Corben Boshart is hoping to continue a dialogue that started more than 6,000 miles from his hometown of Kalona.
Boshart traveled to Qom, Iran from May 26 to June 15 and is preparing to discuss his experiences at the sixth Mennonite-Shia interfaith dialogue, which was held at the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute.
“We get so many vague and varied messages about what a country like Iran is like,” said Boshart, who graduated from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., in 2013 after majoring in peace studies and biblical studies. “It feels like we really make a difference getting to share these experiences.”
On Sunday, Boshart will give a presentation at an event hosted by the Just Peace Outreach Group at the Wellman Mennonite Church, 1215 Eighth Ave in Wellman.
“It seemed like a topic of current interest,” said Roger Farmer, who helps coordinate events for the Just Peace Outreach Group. Farmer said that the group’s mission is to raise awareness on issues surrounding peace and justice from a Christian point of view.
Boshart was one of several people who were allowed to observe the interfaith dialogue that took place between Shia Muslim and Mennonite Christian scholars. The two groups worked to increase understanding of their values and beliefs, and Boshart explained that the location for the dialogues change, with the next one possibly taking place at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.
“It’s been an ongoing relationship that they’ve been building,” said Boshart, who added that Sunday’s presentation should last around 20 minutes and be followed by time for discussion. “I think it’s been really positive in that sense.”
Boshart said that while he was observing in Iran, one subject that the two groups worked to engage over was ethics and how they relate to their specific disciplines.
The Kalona native explained that it was interesting to see and speak with people outside of the political narrative that often is associated with Iran, which he plans to highlight during the presentation.
Farmer said that attendance at the events can vary from a dozen people to around 100, but he is expecting somewhere between 30 to 40 people at the weekend event.
“They (attendees) would be interested in not just the topic, but in Corben himself,” Farmer said.
The events are open for anyone to attend. This Sunday, a potluck will start the event at 6 p.m. with the presentation beginning at 7 p.m.
“It’s just whatever comes up,” said Farmer of how Just Peace Outreach Group lands on a topic for an event. “It’s surprising how regularly things come up.”
Just Peace Outreach Group holds events every few months and then sends out notices via email lists. Farmer suggested that a future event might focus on issues in Israel.
Boshart will be in Iowa for only a short while longer before heading to Canadian Mennonite University for graduate school focusing on theology.
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