Interfaith pryaer vigil held at Augustana

Campus ministry opens arms

Josh Barrows


The deep, melodious music of the Adhan, the Islamic call to worship, reverberated through the Chapel of Reconciliation and resounded off the fourteen panel reredos depicting different stories from the Bible and the 600-pound Jesus hanging in the back.

The powerful image set the scene for the night of Thursday, Feb. 9, where a group comprised of many religious backgrounds gathered for an interfaith prayer vigil and heard three different languages in a solidarity vigil.

Members from all around the Sioux Falls community and a handful of Augustana students came to hear speakers from a number of different organizations.

Campus Pastor Ann Rosendale said the idea for the event was on the first day of spring semester.

“I got a call from Lynnae Sorensen who is at Hope Lutheran Church [who] wanted to put together an interfaith service and was wondering if the chapel could host it,” Rosendale said.

The chapel staff received emails and phone calls asking what Augustana would do to comfort and recognize those living in fear from the political rhetoric of our time, and were brainstorming what could be done when the call from Sorensen came.

An air of uncertainty intermingled the crowd of different backgrounds and faiths before the service began. The worshippers shared a foreign nature and fascination of the different types of worship being exhibited. “For the Healing of the Nations,” the repeated song during the vigil, started out isolated as the musicians carried the tune.

Dr. David Aronson’s call for the congregation to “be endowed with the creativity to look at each other and see brothers and sisters” lifted the apprehensive air, and the worshippers opened up, breaking down the many barriers between them.

“People who we may consider as strangers and outsiders, even people that we may be suspicious of, we have a call as Christians to care for and pray for them,” Rosendale said. “I’m sure that service touched on every one of the [Augustana] values last night, but I would say that it starts with the duty of Christian faith.”

Recently, interfaith work has gained prominence on campus.

The Muslim Students Association, co-led by junior Ekram Wehabrebi and freshman Manaal Ali, started working with Better Together (an interfaith group on campus) to bring understanding between faiths on campus through the development of an interfaith space on campus for prayer and worship for all people.

“When you are miseducated or not educated that makes a lot of wrong information flow and allows for a lot of negative attitudes to be perpetuated,” Ali said. “I think that an event like this lets you dive into how other people practice religion; what other people say, how other people pray, how other people simply function on a daily basis.”

The campus can look for more opportunities at interfaith worship as both the chapel and the Muslim Students Association along with Augie Open Minds and Better Together partner up and cultivate individual belief and faith.

“The people seemed to enjoy the service and take away a feeling of empowerment to serve in new ways and help others who may be scared or uncertain,” said Rosendale, who disclaimed that it is only “a drop in the bucket” and only one “step in the right direction.”


Josh Barrows is a sophomore English and religion major from Helena, M.T.

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