Religious Studies Class Visits Diverse Faith Communities

Dr. David True’s religion studies classes had the opportunity to learn outside the classroom by visiting urban faith communities, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The trip, scheduled on Nov. 11, gave students the opportunity to dive more into diverse religions.

The students were able to experience two types of communities. First, the group traveled to Chisuk Emuna Congregation to observe, and participated if they wanted to, in the Shabbat Service, which is part of the Jewish Religion.

Chisuk Emuna’s history dates back to 1883, when a group of immigrants from the province of Konvo, Lithuania came to Harrisburg. Since then, Chisuk Emuna’s role is to welcome newcomers and encourage them in rituals and congregational activities as if they had been part of the church for many generations.

“It was my first time to experience Jewish worship service and their songs and sermon were impressive. The pastors and other teachers were singing the worship songs in Hebrew and the Bible was written in both English and Hebrew. The pastor told us that they started learning Hebrew when they were five years old. Also after the service, there was a meal. We got to taste some Jewish food and had time to talk to Jewish people,” Sina Kim ‘20 commented.

For almost every student, it was their first experience in a Jewish Synagogue as well as their first time experiencing a Jewish service.

“I learned that each of us has different beliefs and values of life. Even though we are living on the same planet, our thoughts and values of life are not the same as we think. We cannot judge people by appearance or educational degrees because we don’t know what they have been walked through in their lives. When I went to the Jewish church, I felt like it was totally different world and the atmosphere was something that I have never experienced before because of their rituals, language and customs It wasn’t bad or negative feeling or anything, but it was something that I need understand better in order to accept and respect other religions,” Kim said.

Students also traveled to Christ Lutheran Church as well on their field trip. A Lutheran church that was once thriving, it is now a church that is lucky to see 40 people at a Sunday morning service. Instead, Christ Lutheran Church is most known for its Health Ministry.

Last year, the Health Ministry helped 18,000 people. The Health Ministry is not a social service agency. They saw a need in the community and, as a congregation, strive to help people in the neighborhood. The Health Ministry consists of a dental clinic, an urgent care clinic, a prenatal care clinic, as well as other services that are supplied to people who need them in the community.

“The thing that stuck out to me most was the free clinics the Lutheran Church had. It was so great that the former pastor saw a communal need for medical care, dental care and prenatal care in the community. Those clinics provide free care for anyone who comes in, which I think it just fantastic,” Emily Sullivan ‘18 said.

By taking field trips like this one, students are able to experience something they do not get in a classroom; the community. Whereas a classroom is confined, being part of and participating in a community and community organizations is not. There is so much to learn from these experiences that help to further your knowledge. As a student, educational trips are a great way to interact with the community and tie it back to your education.

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