Fifteen-year-old Sarah Harrison (left), a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Monroe, Conn., was chosen out of 140,000 entries for Google’s “Doodle 4 Google” contest. Her art was featured on the Google homepage on March 31.

The prompt for the contest was “What I see for the future.” Sarah’s doodle, named “A Peaceful Future,” featured eight diverse teenagers lined up in an over-the-shoulder embrace. On their shirts were symbols of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, LGBT pride, gender nonconformity and disability rights.

For Sarah, who was recently confirmed, interreligious conversations come naturally. She has close friends who are atheist and Muslim. “You can’t base your judgments off whatever religion they worship,” she said. “It’s not fair to minimize people because of what they believe.”

She credits her pastor, Doug Ryniewicz, for modeling inclusion in her church.

“I’m very proud that my pastor allows you to come up for communion no matter who you are. And if you don’t feel comfortable taking it, he will bless you anyway,” Sarah said. “It’s nice to offer refuge without stipulations based on who you are.”

As a child, Sarah struggled to explain who she was. She was shy and other kids used it as a reason to single her out. Though painful, the experience gave Sarah wisdom and empathy beyond her 15 years.

“I didn’t like that people were making judgments before they got to know me,” she said. “It’s about time we cut each other a break and learn to accept each other for their differences. Diversity is a beautiful thing.”

This article is part of the June 2017 cover story “‘E Pluribus Unum Deus’: Out of many, one God.” Read it in full.

K.T. Sancken
Sancken is a social worker, mother and writer based in Charlottesville, Va. She is a Valparaiso [Ind.] University alumna.

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