Interfaith feast at New Haven institute

By Valerie Ramos and Elder and Sister Johnson

For Mormon Times

Published: Sunday, April 17 2011 3:30 a.m. MDT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — About three dozen graduate students of a variety of faiths attended the Yale "Moveable Feast" at the New Haven LDS Institute of Religion in March.

The multifaith event allows Yale graduate students to gather and discuss religion regardless of their beliefs. The discussion for this feast, cohosted by the Yale chaplain’s office, was centered on “Faith and Hope in Times of Tragedy” and included several prompt questions.

The questions included the following: “What does your faith tradition offer in times of tragedy? Comfort, challenge, hope, resources?”; “As a person of faith, what were your initial reactions to the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan?”; “What are some of the things your tradition says about the existence of tragedy and/or suffering?”

While the group shared thoughts on the various prompts, everyone was surprised to learn what the religions have in common.

“The interfaith dinner was a refreshing reminder of the love and caring that all religious traditions inherently espouse,” said Jeremy Talmage, an institute student studying at the Yale Divinity School. “I walked away from this ecumenical experience endowed with powerful insights into how other faiths cope when tragedy strikes and a strengthened appreciation for the unique teachings of Mormonism.”

LDS full-time missionaries also attended and helped give tours of the building. One of the highlights of the tours was the opportunity to explain the building's First Vision artwork to an inquiring student.

“I love working and serving and talking and learning with people of other faiths. It’s counterintuitive, but being surrounded by such diversity opens my eyes to how much common ground we have and how we are all literally children of God,” said Krysta Title, a Yale institute student. “I am faced with a lot of stress and pressures right now — I’m graduating with my master’s degree in two months — and participating in this interfaith dinner was refreshing and rejuvenating — a feeling I experience in few other settings.”

The previous two events this semester were at the Hall of Graduate Students and the Slifka Center.

Valerie Ramos is a support specialist at the New Haven Institute of Religion, and Elder and Sister Johnson are New Haven Institute of Religion missionaries.


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