Tag Archives: Illinois Interfaith Service

Headed to D.C. for President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge gathering

I’ll be representing the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with one other student and one staff member at the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge 2012 Summer Gathering this Monday and Tuesday in Washington D.C.

We’re excited to join over 300 college presidents, administrators, chaplains and students at this gathering which features special guests from the Department of Education, the Interfaith Youth Core and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

While we’re there to network and talk about our work at Illinois (namely Illinois Interfaith Service and the Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration), I’ll be keeping an eye out for private Christian colleges and universities to hear about how explicitly Christian campuses have engaged interfaith work on their campuses. (For a great example, check back to our guest post from Kyleen Burke From Gordon College: Loving Our Religious Neighbors).

I’ll be bringing the FLP video camera and I hope to have a chance to do some informal video blogs along the way, so check back here next week for more about the President’s Challenge Summer Gathering!

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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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On the Air: An interview on Keepin’ the Faith

A few weeks ago I was privileged to interview as a guest on the WILL AM 580 (local public radio) show Keepin’ the Faith about interfaith work on the University of Illinois campus with my friend Ish Umer. Don Nolen, who guest-hosted that evening, led us into a discussion of evangelicals and interfaith work that I thought you might enjoy. You can download the podcast from will.illinois.edu at the following link: http://will.illinois.edu/keepinthefaith/show/ktf110807/

I’ve listed a few landmarks so you don’t have to listen to the whole program if your schedule doesn’t allow the time:

0:00 – About the Illinois Interfaith Service Challenge

20:18 – Ish’s description of his religious background and his experience around 9/11

25:48 – Greg’s description of his religious background

29:10 – Addressing sensitive issues in interfaith dialogue

36:50 – Evangelism and interfaith dialogue

47:36 – Guest caller with question for Ish

50:00 – Interfaith work on campus: One Million Meals for Haiti, and continued discussion of the Interfaith Service Challenge.

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