SLC Interfaith community builds bridges



Photo by Brent Uberty.

Photo by Brent Uberty.

The Right Reverend Scott Hayashi wants to build bridges — not over rivers, but between communities.

Hayashi, the Eleventh Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, spoke to nearly 50 students and members of the public Tuesday in the Marriott Library.

The event was part of the second annual Neale Nelson Memorial Lecture Series. The series focuses on “Building Bridges Among Faith Traditions” and provides a setting for people to hear a variety of perspectives from diverse religious leaders and scholars. The lecture series is named after the Reverend Neale Nelson, a Lutheran minister and former student and teacher at the U.

Hayashi talked about the importance of building and maintaining authentic relationships between groups of diverse religious backgrounds.

“Building bridges between different religious communities is vital for the welfare of the whole world, working together on those things which we agree is certainly a start and a way forward,” Hayashi said. “The deeper work, however, is in the building of authentic, deep relationships that respect the dignity of all people. This is not easy work.”

Born in a “non-church household,” Hayashi converted to Christianity during his teenage years. Still the only active Christian in his family, he received training from Harvard Divinity School before beginning his ministry in the Episcopal denomination.

Hayashi centered his message on four principles he believes could build bridges among religious communities.

“First, people should work together on things they can agree upon. Second, know yourself, and be yourself. Third, be open to learning from others. And fourth, respect the dignity of others,” he said.

Hayashi hopes people walked away from the event with a deeper understanding of the importance of respecting other backgrounds and people.

Mitch Eddards, an electrical engineering student, wants to see more open dialogue between those different religious backgrounds.

“On campus and off campus, there are believers and nonbelievers alike,” Eddards said. “We should be talking to each other and discussing things instead of going off into two different directions.”

Beginning in 2002, February has been recognized as the “Interfaith Month” by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable. The group is dedicated to promoting love and understanding of different cultures in the community.

Hayashi said Salt Lake City should be commended for having one of the more active and diverse interfaith communities in the country.

“Diversity is good simply because it expresses the fullness of the human experience,” Hayashi said.

a.lillie@chronicle.edu