30 Days of Love: 13/30
I really wasn't sure what to expect when I attended an Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) conference in 2009. My big interfaith experiences had been in divinity school, where they mostly took the shape of conversations about doctrinal differences, polity, and hot-button social issues. While I certainly learned something during those conversations, they never went anywhere else. I showed up at the IFYC conference interested in their model of interfaith cooperation through service opportunities. The premise is simple: when people of faith (or no faith) come together and act based on their shared values, we can better our world. In the process, we also learn more about one another and why our individual traditions called us to do service work. Throughout the conference, I attended workshops on putting this model into practice, but I also got some hands on experience in an interfaith service project.
The experience was tremendous. We socialized during our project, getting to know one another as individuals. Talk of faith wasn't automatic, but it soon went in that direction. After the project, we had an opportunity to reflect on the experience as a group. That was perhaps one of the best parts for me. I didn't just learn more about other traditions but I also learned more about what calls me to service. It was a fantastic opportunity to reflect on why I do what I do and why I believe what I believe, and to share that with others. We reflected on the challenges of interfaith work, especially when values or priorities differ. We talked about finding the common ground that we could work from and identifying the issues on which we could be allies, even if we found ourselves on 'opposing sides' from each other on others. We talked about how finding those commonalities eased some of the animosities around the disagreements. We reaffirmed our individual faiths, and came to understand others.
Several years later, I'm still grateful for the experience. I encourage you, during this 30 days of love and beyond, to reach out and serve your community in interfaith partnership.
January 31, 2013. Reach out for interfaith.
Youth and adults who work with youth should check out A Chorus of Faiths, a free, online curriculum offered by the UUA that explores how UU youth can do interfaith work and how that work is part of our faith experience. This program can definitely help you prepare an interfaith service project in your own community.
Campus groups, students, faculty, staff and congregations supporting campus groups should check out the IFYC page on campus engagement. They offer resources, trainings and more for your campus, as well as the opportunity to attend Interfaith Leadership Institutes.