November 23, 2012

Newman Center hosting ecumenical Thanksgiving Service


---- — PLATTSBURGH — As a SUNY Plattsburgh undergrad, Allyson Lent became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Plattsburgh.

Now, as the fellowship’s student minister, she is busy planning the Interfaith Council of Plattsburgh and Clinton County’s annual Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Blessed John XXIII College Community Newman Center Catholic Church.

“It will have members of clergy and the laity from many congregations in Clinton County,” Lent said. “They will be playing a part. I will be preaching.”

Her sermon’s big concept will be Thanksgiving.

“The narrow concept I’m hoping to pull out is there is more that brings us together than divides us, particularly following the political climate during the election and now after the election. There has been a lot of focus on what makes us different,” Lent said.

The nation’s red-blue-purple polarization can be viewed through perspectives on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, political affiliation and socioeconomic class, Lent said.

“There’s more that can bring us together than divides us.” 

The council’s Thanksgiving Service will feature a choir and speakers from different faith traditions.

“(There will be) different clergy who serve on the council doing readings; it won’t be just my voice out there. The service is trying to authentically bring elements from the tradition it is representing. It’s very rich and deep and not just bringing it to the lowest common denominator. Whoever is speaking will speak with the voice of their tradition,” she said.

A Syracuse native, Lent triple majored in English lit, music and psychology at SUNY Plattsburgh. Following graduation in 2006, she did neuroscience research for a few years. 

Last year, she graduated from Harvard Divinity School.

“I always had an interest in religion in general. When I became a UU, one of the things I fell in love with was the openness and freedom to explore what I found most meaningful and how other people found meaning in their own lives,” Lent said.

When she attended Harvard, she was unsure whether she wanted to be ordained.

“I know it was a conversation I wanted to further explore. I chose Harvard because it felt right. Harvard has students from all over the country but (also) all over the world from just about all traditions.”

It wasn’t hypothetical to learn the worldview of a young, female Muslim in America.

“You actually have classmates and friends who are young, female and Muslim living in America,” she said. “You get to have conversations with people instead of just learning about them. So the interfaith conversations that you have in Divinity School is diverse. It becomes much richer than it would be otherwise than if you went to a different seminary where diversity wasn’t the same.” 

Her academic experience was enhanced by the instruction of great professors who were top scholars.

But …

“I think I learned more from lunchtime conversations,” Lent said.

Email Robin Caudell:

IF YOU GO WHAT: Thanksgiving Service presented by the Interfaith Council of Plattsburgh and Clinton County. WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25. WHERE: Blessed John XXIII College Community Newman Center Catholic Church, 90 Broad St., Plattsburgh.