Mormons well-represented in 'speed-faithing' event

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

Speed dating? Try speed faithing. LDS students had the chance to participate in a "speed-faithing" event held at UC Irvine.

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Sell yourself in a few minutes’ time. Many people are familiar with speed dating.

Some curious university students decided to give the format a try — but with religion.

"Before students began faith shopping, organizers offered a little advice: Don't see it as an opportunity for debate. Just listen. And keep it short.”

So read an article in the Los Angeles Times about a two-hour speed-faithing event Wednesday, Oct. 30, at University of California, Irvine.

“It was made very clear that this was going to be an open environment,” said Stephan Kudlacek, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and president of the university’s chapter of the LDS Student Association.

According to the article, Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit group, developed speed faithing in 2005. Many universities have since hosted such events.

Kudlacek, 23, is a third-year biochemistry student at the school. He explained that UC Irvine’s sister school UCLA had already hosted a speed-faithing event. He received an email from coordinators of the university’s Cross Cultural Center inviting the LDSSA to represent the Mormon faith.

He said they jumped at the chance and are glad they did.

A variety of groups were represented, including Muslims, Catholics and atheists. Each group was given about 15 minutes per presentation. The usual format was to present for 10 to 12 minutes and answer questions for three to five minutes, but Kudlacek said the Mormon representatives favored answering questions most of the time.

The questions ranged from “What is the significance of Utah?” to “Why is your church focused so much on baptisms?”

The Mormon presenters were volunteers from the LDSSA, and they included the local full-time missionaries in the presentation.

“We were represented very well, and I believe a lot of people were able to understand our faith a little bit better,” Kudlacek said, noting his excitement for the LDSSA’s growing presence on campus and that the group received an invitation at the event to join an interfaith council.

About 15 LDS students attended the event, listening to the variety of presentations.

“It was really eye-opening for everyone to hear down-to-earth experiences of people from other religious backgrounds,” Kudlacek said.

He referred to Ephesians 2:19, stating that his speed-faithing experience made the scripture “more profound” to him.

“I feel like we’re all a little bit more unified now.”

Email: hbowler@deseretnews.com

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