Review Staff Writer
Students explored various religions through the “Discovery of Faiths” event Nov. 5 sponsored by the Linfield Activities Board, Chaplain’s Office and the religious studies department.
A panel composed of religious leaders and affiliates representing the Bahá’í, Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic and Muslim faiths was invited to share their religious views with students and faculty.
Professor of Religious Studies William Apel was one of six panelists. Apel said any chance for dialogue and conversation is beneficial to understanding various faiths and religions.
“We are all spiritual, if not religious, and many of us are asking questions that different religions have tried to answer for centuries,” David Massey, college chaplain and assistant professor of religious studies, said.
Envisioned by sophomore Lauren Funtanilla, the LAB cultural events chair, the event had been in planning since summer.
Funtanilla said the event was inspired by a previous experience she had at a youth conference during her sophomore year of high school where a religion panel was present. Funtanilla said she hoped the gathering would be a learning experience for those curious about other religions.
The event was in two parts: During the first part, panel members answered student-produced questions, and in the latter part, panelists circulated among small group discussions moderated by students, Apel said.
During the question-and answer session, Funtanilla asked, “How does your faith view other faiths, and do you believe their is truth to them?”
Anthony Kesler, Linfield alumnus and representative for the Jewish faith, expressed his opinion.
“In approaching other faiths, we are open to the idea that other faiths are legitimate experiences,” he said.
Panelist Delane Hein, area director for judicial affairs, represented the Bahá’í faith.
Bahá’í is an independent religion celebrating the oneness and belief in the unity, not uniformity, of humankind and religion, Hein said.
“The greatest and most blessed of things is the love of God; Love of God is the foundation for all spiritual teachings,” she said.
Raised in a Christian home, Hein became a Bahá’í while on a complicated journey in search of answers to her many questions.
Funtanilla then asked about the path each panel member ook to get to their faiths.
Born and raised as a Catholic and having attending a Catholic school, Deacon Maro Escano never doubted his faith or the teachings of the Catholic church. Escano is currently serving at St. James Catholic Church in McMinnville as part of his internship program. He is originally from the Philippines.
“It helped me to fall in love with Jesus Christ with a trust in God to make things better and help me continue to grow in my faith,” he said.
Kyogen Carlson, a representative from the Buddhist faith, shared his own story.
Raised as a Christian, he had questions and sought answers that were unmet. Later in life, he encountered Zen and found in Buddhism his language, he said.
The evening became a medium for close interactions between individuals of different beliefs.
“In my experience, there’s nothing better than face-to-face conversations and the ability of people to meet one another,” Apel said.
After the small group discussions, it appeared students left with a slightly better understanding of different faiths then they came in with.
“There are so many misunderstandings and stereotypes of people in different religions it is important to be together so people can understand one another,” Apel said.