Interfaith Progressive Dinner
One of the annual traditions at UC Davis is to have an Interfaith Progressive Dinner each November. Held the week before Thanksgiving, it gives students the chance to come into four different ministry centers: CA House (Methodist, Presbyterian, and UCC ministry), Hillel, the Islamic Center, and the Belfry (Lutheran and Episcopal) – my ministry. At each house we pair up with another ministry – the Unitarians, Newman Center, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc. – so that everyone is represented. It takes about 2 1/2-3 hours to go to each house and eat, etc., but it is always a highlight of the school year.
As with any progressive dinner, the meal is served in courses: appetizers in one place, soup & salad in another, main course at another stop, and finally dessert. To accommodate religious food restrictions we agree to have all food be vegetarian – no meat at all. We also agree in advance that this night is not about proselytizing. Our goal is to have the students meet each other and to share/learn something about each faith tradition.
This year, each group shared whatever would be their traditional food blessing. Not all groups have a prayer like this that is universally accepted, but some definitely do. Our group sang the doxology. The food is always delicious and it is so nice to be welcomed into each ministry space. It demystifies what happens behind the doors of each center and allows everyone to see and hear something about what each group does. Students routinely ask for more events like this by the end of the night.
This is one way we have interfaith dialogue and collaboration on our campus. How does it happen on yours?