Religious groups work with differences

Two University groups have events planned throughout the coming year.

Neil Peterson, student involved in Lutheran Campus Ministry, Left, and Ahmed Siddiqui from the Muslim Students Association, pick up trash by the Mississippi River Sept. 13, 2015. The two student associations are working together to bridge the gap between Islam and Christianity and want to stimulate interaction through events this year with other religious groups on campus.

Photo courtesy of Luthern Campus Ministry

Neil Peterson, student involved in Lutheran Campus Ministry, Left, and Ahmed Siddiqui from the Muslim Students Association, pick up trash by the Mississippi River Sept. 13, 2015. The two student associations are working together to bridge the gap between Islam and Christianity and want to stimulate interaction through events this year with other religious groups on campus.

Keith Min

With an increased number of religiously affiliated student groups at the University of Minnesota this year, some are working toward a better understanding between faith groups on campus. 
 
The Lutheran Campus Ministry and the Muslim Students Association hope collaboration between the two groups can help increase understanding between faiths that do not typically associate with each other. 
 
“What I hope students on all sides of this dialogue come to understand is that we don’t all have to be the same to love each other,” Lutheran Campus Ministry’s campus pastor Kate Reuer Welton said in an email. “I think it’s easy to look around and say ‘we’re all the same,’ but we’re actually not.”
 
The two groups have a number of events planned throughout the year, like a Thanksgiving potluck and a monthly series called the Faith and Leadership Institute, where community leaders will discuss how faith can help people make a difference in the world, Welton said in the email. 
 
Emily Mentz, an officer for Lutheran Campus Ministry, said the events would add to the groups’ understanding of other cultures and religions.
 
Lack of understanding 
 
between faith-based groups can create fear and confusion, Mentz wrote in an email statement.
 
To foster better understanding, about 30 members of the two groups picked up trash along the Mississippi River earlier this month and had a cookout afterward. Both groups say they hope to continue to strengthen their relationship throughout the year.
 
“Events like interfaith [cleanup] also give our two groups an opportunity to come closer and establish a stronger connection and understanding,” Ahmed Idris, vice president of the Muslim Students Association, said in an email.
 
Another University group that advocates for discussions between different religious campus groups, the Multifaith Student Council, formed a few years ago when communication issues between some religious groups arose at the University, said Council President Hannah Bender. 
 
Mentz said Lutheran Campus Ministry and the Muslim Students Association have both had a relationship for a while. She said they started collaborating because each group uses the Grace University Lutheran Church for functions. 
 
The groups also aim to address social justice issues this year, Idris said in the email. 
 
He said the groups hope to sponsor a Black Lives Matter event to allow community and student leaders to voice their religious perspective on racism and injustice.
 
“I hope that this is just the beginning of a relationship,” Welton said in the email.