Staff and Students Join in Interfaith Community Service

May 31, 2012 | 2:18 p.m.

By Samantha Allgood '12

Students put their hands to work to prepare community gardens for spring.

In April, 14 Bethel students teamed up with faculty and staff members to serve alongside Frogtown-Summit University (FSU) community members in preparing four area community gardens. The project was part of Bethel’s participation in the White House Interfaith Campus and Community Service Challenge. Bethel volunteer Edwin Gonzalez compared the collaboration to a Native American proverb: “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Walk beside me, that we may be as one.”

Headed by Bethel community members Marion Larson, Sara Shady, Tanden Brekke, and Leon Rodrigues, the Community Garden Service Event featured a day of service followed by a time of food and fellowship. Food from local FSU restaurants highlighted various cultures, and a dialogue with four community elders provided an opportunity to discuss the role faith plays in motivation for service, the function of community gardening in the neighborhood, and how FSU members navigate diverse faith traditions in their neighborhoods. “It was a beautiful day and a great chance to get to know the people who help to support the communities around them every day,” says senior Tim Larson. “It’s unfortunately a rare yet inspiring thing when people with different backgrounds, different stories, and different faiths can work together for a common purpose.”