Interfaith sharing

Each month people from around the world and of varying religious beliefs gather together in Delft to discuss matters of faith.

A room full of students of varying beliefs, discussing the dictates of their religion and asking questions of each other’s faiths. Welcome to the InterFaith Sharing session, organized by the International Students Chaplaincy (ISC).
These monthly sessions held in Delft are headed by Rev. Waltraut Stroh, one of the seven ISC chaplains active in the Netherlands. The sessions first started around the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, when many students from the chaplaincy wanted to talk to Muslim students in the hope of understanding them better.

Nowadays, the Interfaith sessions often involve the participation of various experts, who present their views on a certain subject, followed by discussions and a question-and-answer session. Four years ago, for example, a group of Iranian students wanted to understand Judaism and Christianity. The chaplaincy then brought in a Jewish rabbi, who also happened to be one of the world’s first female rabbis.

The focus of the sessions change each time, but the guidelines for the talks remain constant. At last week’s meeting, the experts who spoke were Stroh and dr. Alper. Stroh, who is also the Protestant chaplain for TU Delft, often leads the Delft InterFaith Sharing sessions. Stroh was born in Germany, brought up in Zambia. Dr Alper was born in the Netherlands but is of Turkish descent. He is a part of the Islam and Dialogue Foundation, which is where he met Stroh.

“The ISC aims to increase the spiritual, social and physical wellbeing of the internationals studying in Delft,” Stroh explains. “The students present at interfaith meetings are always a mixed lot.” At the last session, for example, among the students present were those from Indonesia, Pakistan, India and the Netherlands, believers each in Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. Sometimes the discussions are about a particular religion, while at other times the students take the initiative to talk about their own faiths, often in the aftermath of world incidents, in the hope of revealing a side of the story not immediately understood by the general public. Above all, those attending the interfaith session do so as individuals, not as representatives of religious institutions. Arguments about which religion is ‘better’ are discouraged. Stroh: “The objective is to explain, not convince. ”  

The next Interfaith Sharing meeting is on Monday, May 17, 19:30, at Voorstraat 60 in Delft. The topic to be discussed: Religion, Tolerance and Extremism.

Redacteur Redactie

Heb je een vraag of opmerking over dit artikel?


Comments are closed.