By Katherine Taylor
After introductions were made, there was no time to waste. The discussion began in earnest, with loud talking and laughter filling the room. Table three, after some debate, concluded that documentaries could, in fact, be counted as television shows; at the frantic insistence of their group members, participants were careful not to accidentally mention any spoilers of “Game of Thrones.”
These interactions and many more could be heard at the Dansante Building on Sunday when Cache Valley’s Community of Good, created in late September, held its first “speed friending” event.
A variation of speed dating, the fast-paced format was adapted to help people meet new friends and discuss questions ranging from “what was the last TV show you binge watched?” to “what does faith mean to you?”
The group’s adaptation of speed dating was inspired by speed faithing, which is used by Utah State University’s Interfaith Student Association to start a friendly dialogue about religion across faiths. Guest speakers Kason Hudman and Eden Cope from the association led the exercise.
Many Community of Good members have come to see their lives and values as estranged from the dogma of the religious organizations in which they were raised. In a state heavily populated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that often means estrangement from family and friend groups who are both religiously and culturally Mormon. Events like this, organizers said, help them know they aren’t alone.
“When people leave the LDS church, or go through a faith transition of any kind, there’s always kind of an anger phase,” Hudman said. “I think that it’s healthy for people to go through that, but once they come down from that, they’ve really lost a community. They’ve lost a lot of things, and they want to find somebody who understands. This community is providing a space for people who don’t want to feel angry anymore. They want to feel that sense of love and community and happiness again.”
A secular community dedicated to social interaction, intellectual exploration and humanitarian service, the Community of Good hopes to build a sense of community outside of religious affiliation.
“We want to make a safe, comfortable environment for people where they can just connect as humans,” said Kimberly Nelson, one of the group’s founding members.
The Community of Good held its first gathering on Sept. 27; the community has held a meeting every two weeks since then. Meetings usually consist of a short, positive message from a guest speaker.
Logan Loertscher, who attended on Sunday, said it has been hard to make new friends and feel like a part of a community since his faith transition.
“I like meeting new people and getting out of my bubble,” Loertscher said. “Ever since I left my religion, it’s like I don’t have any group thing to do. Having this has been awesome.”