Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Chorus of Faiths: A Program That Builds Interfaith Youth Leaders

How a Young Interfaith Leader Spread the News

In the spring of 2008, Aubrey Rose was a 15-year-old high school sophomore attending a Catholic school in Frederick, Maryland. She valued service and had been profoundly affected by an educational visit of an Imam to her youth group, but didn't know how to act on it. Then, she saw a television piece on Good Morning America about the Interfaith Youth Core, profiling young men and women from around the country who were building interfaith relationships through service and dialogue. She called an IFYC staff member to get ideas of how she might do the same, and after some long calls, started a group called Frederick Interfaith Youth (FIY) with a Muslim friend from another high school. They held a service event and started a Facebook group, which they used to find new potential participants and advertise their events. Service events started drawing 20-25 people regularly. Aubrey and other leaders contacted the Frederick News Post, a local newspaper, and urged them to profile the group, which helped to promote three upcoming events. The first was an educational event, a World Religions forum, held to protest the county's decision to offer no World Religions education. Over forty high school students showed up, even though it was on a Saturday night, in response to the publicity. The newspaper article also advertised two upcoming FIY service events in partnership with local groups, including Frederick Rescue Mission. As she and other FIY board members continued their activities in the area and built support, Aubrey received media training and continued to seek media attention for the work of FIY. She was featured on a four-minute Comcast Newsmakers video, which was shown in the surrounding five states. She also had an essay published in Inter-Religious Insight. All of this training and experience helped legitimize her work to adults. When she approached her Catholic congregation and asked them to make a multi-year partnership with the local mosque their Signature Project, they agreed. The church is now "sister parish" to the mosque, and the church's leadership council is reading about Islam to help prepare for this interfaith partnership. After Aubrey graduates, she plans to continue building the interfaith movement at a university, while leaving behind a strong, sustainable youth-led service group and adult partnership.