Religious Diversity Fair draws a crowd at SFC

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 11:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 11:11 p.m.

The Religious Diversity Fair at Santa Fe College used to be once a year.

But interest in the fair, which took place again on Wednesday, has blossomed -- and that interest has emboldened fair organizers.

“We used to do this once a year, but the feedback was so good that last year we started doing it twice a year. We may add the summer semester as well,” said Kenny Holmes, student development specialist at SFC and lead organizer of the event for the past two years.

From 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Santa Fe students in attendance learned about several different religions. They were asked to fill out a short survey and were given a slice of pizza and drink in return.

Holmes said he had expected a larger number of participants for this fair because of the event’s past popularity.

Whereas last semester about 10 religious organizations participated, on Wednesday closer to 20 various religious groups participated, Holmes said.

The event incorporated several different religions and faith-based organizations that wanted to inform the students about their specific religion.

“We all do not worship the same way. We want to make sure our Santa Fe students have the opportunity to seek out other information on various religious groups,” Holmes said.

The religious organizations participating included Wicca, Baptist Collegiate, Disciples of Christ, Hara Krishna, Eckancar and Christians on Campus.

Sheena Zawacki, graduate assistant working with Santa Fe Student Life, helped facilitate the event and represented the Center for Student Leadership and Activities.

“I’ve had some individuals come over and ask, ‘When’s your next one?’ already. They love reaching out to students, and it’s a really good way to teach them about their particular religion,” she said.

Julie Meade, a sophomore at Santa Fe, said she was happy she decided to stop and peruse after curiosity got the best of her on her way to class.

“Everyone was really nice and welcoming. I might actually go to one of their meetings and see what they have to say,” she said.

Students were encouraged by many of the participating religious organizations to take some kind of informational keepsake to further their knowledge once they left the event.

“I think they did a good job of getting their information out,” Meade said.

Diane Sterling, a member of the Eckancar clergy, and Joy Wilcox, local director for the Eck in Gainesville and fellow clergy member, ran the Eck religious booth at the event.

“I think it’s wonderful for students or people of any age to explore the many ways that God expresses himself and to find the way that is right for them,” said Sterling. “It’s all about us having our personal relationship with God because he speaks to each one of us in a language that we can understand.”

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