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Our History

Since our founding in 2004, Interfaith Philadelphia has challenged people across sectors to Dare to Understand
one another. As we gear up to mark this milestone, we invite you to join us on this momentous journey. 

Founded in January 2004, Interfaith Philadelphia emerged as a regional response to the national tragedy of 9/11. The organization was formed by individuals from a wide diversity of backgrounds – including clergy and lay persons with experience in interfaith relations – who wanted to transform the tragic event  into a catalyst to affect positive change in this community.  To do this, they envisioned an agency that could facilitate reconciliation, mutual trust, and common action across religious communities and where cross-cultural and multi-faith education, dialogue, and collaborative endeavors could flourish.


Years later, this bold vision continues to evolve and unfold in exciting and innovating ways.  In its earliest days, Interfaith Philadelphia began its work by facilitating a host of community programs and dialogues. Ultimately, these evolved into more formal conferences and workshops and, over time, the scope of our work has broadened significantly to encompass a number of signature initiatives.

Over the past two decades, we have served over 50,000 individuals and partnered with more than 350 religious congregations and institutions, educational institutions, and civic and service organizations. To this day, Interfaith Philadelphia remains one of the few organizations of its kind across the country.  We’ve been called upon at the highest levels of city government and local business to help create programs that promote understanding, cooperation, and relationships between individuals of different faiths.


We teach more than mere tolerance; we believe that embracing diversity in our neighborhoods, institutions, and workplaces is the key to building a cohesive, compassionate, and thriving society – contributing to the kind of region and world in which we want to live.



Philadelphia is known throughout the country as the 'City of Brotherly Love.' It is also known by many as the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States. Founded by William Penn, a Quaker, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was a bastion for all religious groups to find freedom to worship without fear of persecution or reprisal. Penn famously wrote:


For you are now fixed at the mercy of no governor that comes to make his fortune great; you shall be governed by laws of your own making and live a free, and if you will, a sober and industrious life. I shall not usurp the right of any...


And so, Philadelphia, its history firmly rooted in concepts of peace, understanding, and pluralism, continues to live out these ideals today. “Philadelphia is a living example of Penn's vision, from the downtown grid layout of streets and public squares he planned, to the tolerance and diversity of "the city of brotherly love" of which he dreamed.



As we gear up to mark this milestone, we invite you to join us on this momentous journey. Here's a sneak peek at just a few ways you can take part in our celebratory events.


June 6, 2024

2024 Dare to Understand Awards

  • The Very Rev. Judy Sullivan, Board Chair, Interfaith Philadelphia, 2014-2018

  • Rev. Jesse Garner,  Board Chair, Interfaith Philadelphia, 2018-2021

  • Imam Quaiser Abdullah, PhD, Board Chair, Interfaith Philadelphia, 2021-2024

  • Margie Scharf, Creator of Interfaith Philadelphia’s Walking the Walk Youth Initiative

  • Walking the Walk Alumni and Partners

20 Questions Video Series 
This rapid-fire one-take digital series features Philadelphia faith leaders answering curious questions while touring their places of worship.

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