STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State University's Interfaith Service Initiative represents an opportunity for people, whatever their faith, to collaboratively improve Oktibbeha County citizens' disaster preparedness.
The university's Interfaith Involvement Fair and Social will begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday [Sept. 12] in the second-floor lobby of Colvard Student Union. Faith-based organizations, as well as campus groups, should visit http://tinyurl.com/kkq4nbw to reserve a free table.
At 6 p.m., the Interfaith Dialogue will begin in the nearby Bill R. Foster Ballroom. Faculty members to lead the dialogue and breakout sessions include Albert Bisson, instructor of philosophy and religion; Jonathan Edelmann, assistant professor of philosophy and religion; Seth Oppenheimer, professor and director of mathematics and statistics; and Rani Sullivan, associate professor of aerospace engineering.
MSU committed to the initiative during the 2013-14 academic year in response to President Barack Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, launched in 2011. The challenge calls on institutions of higher learning to join diverse campus groups with community organizations to work on a specific service project.
Discussions at MSU's Interfaith Dialogue will focus on how serving neighbors in need fosters a sense of community interconnectedness and interdependence, said Cade Smith, assistant dean of students.
"Understanding how 'serving a neighbor in need' transcends faith traditions will help unite our community, build cohesiveness and civic capacity, and lead to actions that can improve the lives of our students and community members," said Smith, also director of student leadership and community engagement at MSU.
The dialogue will launch a series of coordinated drives to collect approximately 3,500 materials for 100 disaster-preparedness kits, he said. These campaigns will be held both on campus and in Oktibbeha County. Collection and assembly campaigns for the kits will be led by representatives of faith-based entities, faith-based student groups and university offices.
"Our faith-based community then will aid in delivering the emergency preparedness kits to fixed- and low-income senior citizens living in Starkville," Smith said. "The entire endeavor fosters communication and collaboration across the faith communities.
"Hopefully, in the end, we will have improved both the interfaith understanding and the disaster preparedness of our diverse community," he continued.
In addition to the Campus-Community Emergency Response Team, other university sponsors of the Interfaith Service Initiative include MSU's philosophy and religion department, Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, Maroon Volunteer Center, and the offices of the Provost and Student Leadership and Community Engagement.
The list of items for the emergency preparedness kits, as well as other information about the Interfaith Service Initiative at MSU, is available at http://mvc.msstate.edu/interfaithchallenge.