Students, Staff, and Faculty Collaborate to Create Interfaith Honor Society
For two students at The Valley, a passion for learning about various religions and cultures took them on a journey from Annville to the heart of the nation—Washington, D.C.
The Sixth Annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Gathering is an event that encourages people to come together and serve. It focuses on bringing together educators, students, and international guests to speak about interfaith service work in higher education.
Victoria Bubacz ’18 and Chloe McCarty ’18 attended the conference with Rev. Dr. Paul Fullmer, College chaplain, and Dr. Matthew Sayers, associate professor of religion, to share about LVC’s Interfaith Dialogue Program and its results. For Bubacz and McCarty, the opportunity to share the benefits of the interfaith program was exciting.
“It’s something that is practical no matter what you do,” Bubacz said. “You’re going to work with people from different cultural backgrounds and religions, so you need to understand.”
However, there was one surprise in store for the students. Instead of just listening to different speakers at the conference, they learned they would also be presenting in a breakout session of their own.
Recently, an exciting change has been in the works for LVC’s Interfaith Dialogue Program. Rev. Fullmer and Dr. Sayers are working to grow the program into an Interfaith Honor Society. The dream of LVC faculty and involved students is to see students nationwide become committed to religious diversity. Having an honor society would assist with that goal and create dialogue on this topic.
At the conference, Bubacz and McCarty presented their perspectives regarding the importance of creating this type of an honor society.
“An interfaith honor society is a very clear incentive to bolster student activism,” McCarty said. “It’s a way for establishing an interfaith community.”
For both of them, the best part of presenting was the willingness of high-level school administrators, politicians, and journalists to listen.
“I was very nervous about it,” said Bubacz. “Talking to people with that much experience—it was a little nerve racking. However, you could tell they were there to hear the students’ perspectives.”
The proposed honor society would incorporate elements of LVC’s Interfaith Dialogue Program, such as hosting monthly discussions about various faiths. It would also initiate a national network of students eager to create a religiously diverse and respectful community that welcomes everyone.
By the end of their panel session, both students were confident that their message was well received by other educators and decision-makers in the room.
“We passed a sign-up sheet around the room so individuals could be contacted regarding the interfaith honor society,” McCarty said. “Our sheet filled up so quickly that people had to start attaching business cards to the clipboard.”
After returning from the conference, those involved in the Interfaith Dialogue Program continue to spread the word. Dr. Sayers, Rev. Fullmer, and many students are excited that a program started here in The Valley may soon extend its influence beyond Annville and grow into a national society.