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Interfaith in Action travels to conference

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Interfaith in Action travels to conference

Members of Interfaith in Action discuss during their first meeting.

Members of Interfaith in Action discuss during their first meeting.

Forrest Stewart ('19) | Chips

Members of Interfaith in Action discuss during their first meeting.

Forrest Stewart ('19) | Chips

Forrest Stewart ('19) | Chips

Members of Interfaith in Action discuss during their first meeting.

Forrest Stewart, Staff Writer

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Members of the student organization Interfaith in Action travelled to Chicago in August to attend the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a conference centered around interfaith cooperation.

IFYC brought together both students and educators from all over the country interested in interfaith issues. According to the IFYC web page, the purpose of the conference is for attendees “to learn, train, share, and get inspired to bring the movement for interfaith cooperation back to their campuses and communities.”

Interfaith in Action President Rebecka Green (‘19), Vice President Ashalul Aden (‘20), Volunteer Coordinator Claire Eichhorn (‘19), Research Assistant Elizabeth Wiebke (‘19), Group Member Becca Buse (‘19), and College Pastor Mike Blair all attended the conference in August.
“[We went to the conference] to help get [Interfaith in Action] started and get more of a framework for how we wanted the group to work,” Eichhorn said. “We also wanted to learn what we can do on our campus to make the work more successful.”
Green also shared the general goals of Interfaith in Action for this year.
“[Our goals are] to teach interfaith literacy, support interfaith dialogue, and inform the public on what interfaith is,” Green said.

The group aims to expand its membership and be an active force in the Decorah community.

“We’re hoping to do a lot of service projects, bring people together and to participate in service in the area and at Luther,” Eichhorn said.

Each year on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there is an interfaith-themed chapel talk. Inspired by their time at the IFYC conference, Green and Aden spoke at chapel on Sept. 11 regarding the importance of interfaith work.

Jorge Contreras (‘19) | Chips
Members of Interfaith in Action Elizabeth Wiebke (‘19), Rebecka
Green (’19) and Claire Eichhorn (’19) during their planning meeting.

Green and Aden explained that their chapel address was the first in a series of interfaith storytelling talks. The talks will feature members from the Luther community and their experiences with interfaith. There will be four sessions this semester on Oct. 9, Oct. 25, Nov. 15, and Dec 8.

“We put a lot of what we learned at the conference into the chapel talk,” said Green, “but we also each had our different perspectives on how we wanted to communicate our message.”

Green was pleased with how the talk went and believed that it resonated with the community. However, Green noted that discussions of interfaith topics at Luther do not always come about easily or naturally. Despite the challenges of cultivating meaningful interfaith dialogue in a religiously homogenous community, the members of Interfaith in Action are eager to start bringing together diverse voices for discussion, service, and learning.

Eichhorn said that one of the group’s challenges is the definition of interfaith.

“Some people don’t understand what interfaith is,” Eichhorn said. “It can sound like something in which you have to be a super religious person to participate and that’s not the case at all: it’s about bringing your full identity. If you don’t identify with any tradition, that’s fine. You’re still an important part of interfaith work.”

The group members held planning meetings last year and are now holding hour long weekly meetings on Sundays in Center for Faith and Life room 205 starting at 7 p.m. They encourage anyone who is curious about interfaith topics to attend.

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