By Elizabeth Limbach
FEAST is UC Santa Cruz’s progressive Christian student organization. Although it consists of only ten members, the group represents five different Christian denominations as well as various sexual orientations, ethnicities, and political opinions. Sean Tai, the interim Campus Minister for the group, spoke to City on a Hill Press (CHP) about what distinguishes FEAST from other student religious organizations.
_What does it mean to be a progressive Christian group?_
As a progressive Christian group, we consider ourselves to be very diverse in terms of theological and political positions, but at the same time we are really united in our desire to seek social justice in our community. We’ve done gay rights events, equal marriage events, been part of a fast for Darfur — we focus a lot on that, that is really our purpose.
_What is the function of FEAST on campus?_
We provide an open-minded environment for students who are seeking answers. We aren’t here to give you answers, but to help you along to find your own. We come from diverse backgrounds and we do not fix one way of thinking as the right one.
_How do you overcome common limitations in religion that conflict with sexual orientation?_
There is definitely a struggle when you talk about sexual orientation. We are trying to find a way to read the Bible so that it stops being a rulebook for us and more of a story about how ancestors have lived in relationship to God and how we can continue to live. We also try to take into context the history of where these words are coming from. By doing that we reclaim a lot of what, in my opinion at least, has been interpreted and used against a lot of minorities. Not just sexual minorities but people from all races and genders.
_How does FEAST grapple with expanding the concept of “Christian?”_
When I would tell people at UCSC that I was Christian, they would have a lot of preconceptions of what that meant. One of our goals as a group is to change perceptions of Christianity on campus, not as this exclusive “we’re right and you’re wrong” way of looking at things. It is just another way of understanding how to live in relationship to one another.
_And you also feel that activism should be a part of that definition?_
Faith communities used to be really active; unfortunately it has become more subdued. I firmly believe that religious communities have to reclaim their sense of activism.
_Do you have a favorite FEAST memory?_
We work with Habitat for Humanity once a month and those have been some of my favorite memories, like when we went to New Orleans to help rebuild houses.
Another would be last February at the GLBT center when we worked at their equal marriage event and we married couples of all genders and orientations.
It was a really powerful moment for us. We served communion to anyone who wanted to take it with us as a way of showing that our table is completely open. It was a beautiful vision for how things can be.
The group meets for Bible Study every Tuesday from 8-10 p.m. at the UCSC Women’s Center, and every other Saturday at 4 p.m. at 99 Bottles restaurant downtown for “Theology on Tap” — an open discussion on the week’s topic.
_Visit FEAST online at http://www.uccmsantacruz.org_