Coming Together in Thanks
Multifaith Thanksgiving Celebration Unites Denominations
Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The harmonizing tunes of organs and violins filled the Heights Room last Thursday afternoon during the annual Multifaith Thanksgiving Celebration. The event, "a joyful celebration of our diverse roots and shared values," hosted guest speakers and musicians, all of different religious backgrounds.
"We want to provide an opportunity for the BC community to come together," said Campus Minister Rev. Howard McLendon, explaining the significance of the event. "We are a multifaith community – not a single one. This is a spiritual celebration reflective of religious tradition."
Upon entering the Heights Room, the sight of baskets filled with carefully packaged bread allowed the audience to understand the theme of generosity highlighted by this celebration. For the second consecutive year, the event was sponsored by Spread the Bread, a grass-roots organization founded by Karen Griefer, BC '82.
"The organization uses the gift of bread wrapped in notes of hope and gratitude to honor heroes and help those in need," Griefer said. She detailed Spread the Bread's journey, and how the organization is currently active in 48 states and nine countries.
Rev. Anthony Penna, director of Campus Ministry, gave an introduction on the meaning of thankfulness, and how it plays a role in his life. "I am grateful for working with a staff full of hope," he said. "I am grateful for the faith we all have here. I am also grateful for the new knee I have – I have been getting around the campus better than ever before."
Sarah Bleicher, a member of Hillel and A&S '13, the first speaker to approach the podium, spoke of her gratitude for her Jewish parents. "I'm thankful for the nuts, not my crazy family members, but the nuts, bolts, and screwdrivers," Bleicher said. "I am thankful for the tools that repair what is broken."
After thanking her father for his lessons of independence, and her mother for sharing her nurturing qualities, Bleicher concluded her endearing speech by reminding the audience of why they had all gathered in this room – to celebrate as one body. "My family is made up of Jews and non-Jews, but the word ‘amen' is universal and says it all," she said.
The following speaker, Syed Khan, a librarian in O'Neill Library, passionately spoke of his goal to eliminate the prejudices in society. "Rising bigotry and division is what disturbs me the most – in my homeland of India and here in America," Khan said.
Working to help the poor and victims of abuse, Khan's nonprofit charity organization, the Muslim Community Support Services (MCSS), raises over $200,000 per year to help those in need.
The last presenter to take the stand was Hoffsman Ospino, assistant professor of theology and religious education. His research and writings heavily involve the interplay of faith and culture. Ospino's talk focused on how faith, hope, and love have captured his sense of gratefulness. His wife had their first child this year, declaring that "faith now has a name, a face, and a smile." Ospino ended his presentation leaving the audience wondering how faith, hope, and love are personified in their own lives.