Affirming Our Love: A Space to Dialogue and Sing

On January 28, The Desmond Tutu Center, The Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Butler University’s Center for Faith and Vocation and School of Music jointly hosted “Affirming Our Love: A Space to Dialogue and Sing.” The event was held at First Mennonite Church and acted as a safe space to help us reinvigorate our values of love for our community. Hosting choirs from Butler University, Goshen College, Earlham College, the Grace Tabernacle Church Congolese Choir, and the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus, the event created an atmosphere where guests could dialogue and share their love through song and discussion.

Several speakers provided words of hope and love, including Dr. John Perkins, Associate Director of Choral Activities at Butler University; Gautam Rao, Associate Professor of Art at Butler University; Daniel Meyers, Director of The Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University; and Waseema Ali, Managing Director of the Desmond Tutu Center. Speakers posed questions for the audience to ponder and discuss in small groups varying on issues including racism and anger. People were invited to share their thoughts with the larger group to engage many people of diverse backgrounds to come together. Waseema Ali spoke to the diversity of American democracy and said, “[there is] more that unites us than divides us.” Another conversation centralized around the importance of interfaith dialogue. A few interns from The Center for Faith and Vocation at Butler University discussed how it is important to develop “a new perspective on all issues” and conversations such as this one helped us see how our actions not only affect us, but others as well.

Between discussions, choirs led and performed music to contextualize the conversations. The songs acted as a catalyst to change the atmosphere into a more comfortable and free space to discuss issues plaguing the community. Songs included well known classics such as “How Can I Keep from Singing”, as well as lesser known songs that had a message more specific to the event. “Lao Rahal Soti” was performed by Earlham College and is a Syrian resistance song. It is dedicated to all those who suffer, and the song suggests through suffering we can gather our hearts together in community. This piece and others like it helped provide guests with the ability to come together and discuss issues that are typically uncomfortable and avoided. Attendees were invited to participate in song with the choirs to create unity among all. Overall, the event worked to join many individuals from across the state to help expose how no matter how different people may seem, we all have one thing in common: love.

By: Autumn Tyler

Partners: The Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Butler University’s Center for Faith and Vocation and the School of Music

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