Tag Archives: Illinois Interfaith and Community Service Challenge

Jim Wallis at ICIC12

We were thrilled to have Jim Wallis as a featured keynote speaker at the Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration back in April. Cameron and Greg were both involved in organizing the first-of-its-kind event.

Jim’s keynote address was intended to be a conversation with IFYC founder Eboo Patel, but Eboo’s flight out of New York earlier that morning was delayed and he missed the connection to Champaign-Urbana.

Enjoy what Jim Wallis has to say about interfaith collaboration:

Note: We’d like to thank the Interfaith Youth Core for their support of Faith Line Protestants. This video includes some of the first footage taken with a new HD camera purchased with a grant from the IFYC alumni fund. We’re looking forward to producing more video content for this site in the coming weeks.

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President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge announced for second year

You are probably aware that both Cameron and I have been active with Illinois Interfaith Service, the initiative our campus started in response to the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge this past year which organized  the first ever Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration. The White House Office on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships recently announced the second year of the challenge, and we are excited to see where this year takes us.

Check out the announcement on ED.gov: http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/list/fbci/campus-challenge.html

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Quick thoughts after ICIC12

Cameron and I just finished with a long and exhausting weekend organizing and participating in the Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration. I really enjoyed the chance to chat with Jim Wallis of Sojourners on Friday night, run another interfaith meal packaging event, see Chris Stedman (although meal-packaging clean-up kept me from attending his talk), and hear from Valarie Kaur this morning. All had very different backgrounds and perspectives but stimulated a lot of great conversation. We’ll follow-up in the coming days with some reflects and content from ICIC12.

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Kicking off a new year… two months late

I opened up an e-mail last night that has been sitting in my inbox for a while, waiting for a reply. I was shocked when I realized it was dated from January 22nd. If you know me, you know that I usually keep up with these things, but on this particular incident I dropped the ball. So where did the last month go?

For me it’s been a whirlwind of the usual mixed with a little unusual. I returned from Ghana over a month ago after leading a group of 18 other graduate students and faculty on an observational trip as part of the University of Illinois’ new Global Health Initiative. It turned out to be a perspective-shifting experience for me as I started to think about God’s calling for my life – but more on that later.

As far as I can tell, Cameron is currently occupied with the undergraduates’ greatest stressor: the Senior Thesis. Add a side of part-time job and applying to seminary for dessert and you have a complete meal with more than your daily recommended value of stress, writer’s block and sleepless nights.

Yet as busy as we have been, the time has never been more crucial for our attention to the interfaith movement.

And it’s not just because Tebow-Mania gave way to Linsanity before I really noticed that the NFL season was over or because we’re starting to feel the heat of an election year and faith identity continues to be a central issue. Instead, it’s because of the things that are happening on college campuses right now that are going to shape the way we talk about devout athletes and presidential candidates in 5, 10, 15 years.

While I was sweating away the hours between clinics and hospitals in a cramped van on dirt roads in southern Ghana, hundreds of undergraduate student leaders gathered at Emory University in Atlanta for another Interfaith Leadership Institute – learning to lead a conversation about cooperation on their campuses, suggesting that people of diverse faith backgrounds are Better Together when we gather around issues that we all care about, like fighting hunger or speaking out against human trafficking.

As an evangelical Christian watching the discourse around Jeremy Lin take place, I realized that I am not interested in a popular culture where being passionate about Jesus just adds spectacle to an already bizarre situation, like stepping up from bench-warmer to break-out star in a matter of days. But the student leaders who gathered in Atlanta this winter are having a different kind of conversation, where they are talking about building respect and understanding, and talking about similarities and differences in a way that better enables us to address great human need.

And I’ve heard from some of those young leaders, including a student at North Park University and another at Gordon College. While both institutions are rooted in Christian traditions, their students are diverse and I am excited to see the ways that the interfaith movement takes hold on those campuses.

Of course Cameron and I have ambitious plans to build on the conversation on FLP this semester including featuring some new voices and perspectives. But what’s got us really excited is where all these inspiring student leaders are going to be at the end of this semester, more specifically April 20-22nd.

They’re going to be here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the first ever Illinois Conference on Interfaith Cooperation. And so will Eboo Patel of the Interfaith Youth Core and Jim Wallis of Sojourners, as well as several other special guests here to talk about interfaith cooperation on college campuses, best practices, challenges and successes in the work we’ve been a part of.

So you can look forward to that as well. Actually, you could even be there. Check out www.illinoisinterfaithservice.org to register.

There is good stuff coming, so stay tuned –

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Atheists and Evangelicals in Dialogue, Garden Plots, and Things to Come…

Okay, I know I said there would be some reading material over here, and I’ll admit that Greg and I have not been the most diligent about making that a reality. And for that, I apologize. (Sound familiar? Guess that’s what happens once the semester starts up and you have two students running a blog.) Anyway, I’m here now to provide an update on some of the things Greg and I have been doing.

First, I would like to say that the lunchtime discussion addressing relations between atheists and evangelicals went rather well. Held in the Women’s Resource Center at the U of I, attendees were treated with free lunch, which probably helped the 35 or so people in the room stand Greg’s explanation of interfaith and evangelical identity (just kidding, Greg). Adam Garner and Emily Ansusinha, our fellow Interfaith in Action exec. board members rounded out the panel, and provided some friendly back-and-forth about the atheist/agnostic experience with the evangelical community.

My personal takeaway from the talk was this: I discovered that I still can’t really wrap up a statement well, and could stand to do better than simply trailing off and saying, “But yeah, anyway…” before looking at my fellow panel members to take over. Again, I mentioned we had free lunch, right?

My (sometimes poor) panel-discussion skills aside, Greg and I enjoyed ourselves, and afterward had a few audience members come up to us and ask questions.

The following weekend, I served with Adam (mentioned above) and a few other members of Interfaith in Action to build community garden plots for the Champaign Health District as part of the Illinois Interfaith and Community Service Challenge in remembrance of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. After the service project, we were able to have a dialogue with those who worked on the project, discussing how one’s faith can influence and inspire service. Our discussion and reflections proved a powerful reminder that religio-cultural difference does not have to cause the violence and strife of the events we remembered that day, but can instead act as a catalyst for tremendous good.

This evening (Thursday, 22 September), I will host an Interfaith in Action “Speedfaithing” event at the University YMCA, where anyone interested can come and learn about the basic beliefs of the Hindu tradition. Dharma, the University of Illinois student Hindu group, is helping us with the event. If you’re on the U of I campus, don’t miss it!

Look for Greg’s Gabe Lyons’ posts to appear here soon, as well as more information on our upcoming “Evangelical Identity and Interfaith Cooperation” First Tuesday Talk given at the University YMCA on October 4th. We are also in the process of developing that media content we promised, which should also make its debut in the near future. Until then…

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Interfaith at U of I: A Brief Look at Upcoming Interfaith Events and Initiatives

Illinois Interfaith and Community Service Logo

 

We said we’d keep you updated, so here’s attempt number one. In addition to planning new things for FLP, this is how Greg and I spend our free time…

This year is an exciting year for interfaith service work at the University of Illinois. With our campus interfaith organization, Interfaith in Action, working with and alongside university administration to implement the President’s Challenge (mentioned in Greg’s earlier post here), interfaith programming has easily tripled over previous years; not only are we reaching out to other campus organizations, but our community presence has increased as well.

For the President’s Challenge, Greg has been fulfilling his duties as co-leader of the Communication Committee, while I have served as part of the Education Committee working to plan a steady schedule of events focused on religious literacy and understanding. Our first event–  a panel discussion for part of our unofficially dubbed “First Tuesday Talks” series– happens just next week.  I will be on the panel as a Christian representative answering the question, “Why do you serve?”along with four others from different backgrounds and traditions.

For Interfaith in Action, Greg continues his work as Treasurer, finding ways to raise funds and launch various service initiatives. Meanwhile, as Religious Literacy Chair, I do basically the same things as I do for the Illinois Interfaith and Community Service initiative– planning educational events that promote religious literacy. Earlier this week, I gave a brief talk about the importance of interfaith cooperation, explaining the function of Interfaith in Action to a small but interested group of new (for us) students.

All of this activity is drumming up more support and exposure for our programs, and presents Greg and I with a plethora of opportunities to represent Christ to those who may know very little about the Christian faith.

In fact, next month’s First Tuesday Talk (Oct. 4th) will be on the subject of evangelicals and interfaith cooperation, and will be hosted by Greg and me. But we’ll share more about that– and about our upcoming September 11th service projects– later on! For now, check out both Interfaith in Action’s website and the site for the Illinois Interfaith and Community Service Challenge. Like them (and us!) on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter for more updates!

 

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