By Kendall Shaw
What does the Red Bench do?
The Red Bench: Interfaith Conversations that Matter is an event sponsored by iACT, the Interfaith Action of Central Texas, that promotes dialogue between people of different faith groups over a wide range of topics such as inclusion or vulnerability. Events are held three times a semester, and everyone is encouraged to attend; even if you don’t belong to a faith group or you’re not sure where you stand with religion. The point of the discussions is to gain insight into the opinions and experiences of fellow students, not to persuade everyone to agree.
What do get out of participating in the Red Bench?
The discussions begin very casually, with food (a free meal!) and time to get to know the other participants. It’s a very relaxed and inviting environment, with a wide range of participants–some of them have gone to every event for the last year and some have no idea what to expect. It’s an easy way to get to know someone you otherwise might not have ever met.
How does the Red Bench contribute to the St. Edward’s community?
The actual discussions are very structured, as explained by Simone Flowers who is a St. Edward’s alumni and the Executive Director of iACT. Discussions are headed up by table leaders who regulate the conversation, keeping it moving and making sure every person is able to speak. The experience of being solely attentive and respectful to six or seven distinct perceptions within about an hour time frame is hard to explain, other than that it makes you glad you decided to come. Everyone has moral dilemmas or questions they’re trying to figure out, and The Red Bench is a great way to get those things off your chest and to explore possibilities with other students. The Red Bench is an incredible event to get involved with that you absolutely won’t regret. Everyone who attends leaves with a fuller understanding of who the people we share our campus with really are and how to better appreciate the differences and similarities between us.
How can students get involved?
Find out about new Red Bench events through the St. Edward’s Religious Diversity Facebook page.