For three weeks in May, five students from Wartburg College, Waverly, IA, plus a professor from neighboring Hawkeye College, took part in the Senegal Interfaith Immersion Program. This program, part of a new initiative to deepen ELCA members' understanding of Christian-Muslim Relations, focuses on Senegal, where deep respect and mutual understanding among Muslims and Christians have been a hallmark of the work conducted by ELCA and its companions over the last 30 years. A program of the Lutheran Church of Senegal (Église Luthérienne du Sénégal, or ELS), the Senegal Interfaith Immersion Program was offered this year as a May-Term for Wartburg College students.
The current program includes classroom learning, hand-on experiences, and home stays with Senegalese families. It draws on the experiences of groups who have come to Senegal from various corners of the ELCA. These include two groups from the Grand Canyon Synod, a group led by former missionary Deb Byrum, and an inter-unit ELCA task force culminating the Decade for Overcoming Violence. Similar immersion programs are planned for the future as well, with the goal of offering both academic and more general experiences for ELCA members. In addition to a 2012 version of the Wartburg May Term already in the works, Luther Seminary will offer a Senegal Interfaith Immersion Program designed for ELCA seminarians in January 2012. The Grand Canyon Synod, in its role as the ELS’ companion synod, will host additional non-academic versions of the Senegal Interfaith Immersion in the near future.
Wartburg students discuss community health with Mariame Hanne (third from right), Coordinator of the EELS’ Primary Health Care Project, and other community health workers at a “Health Hut” in Khogué, a village near Linguere.
To read more first-hand reflections on the immersion program by logging on to the May Term blog, at wartburgsenegal.blogspot.com