Since 2004, the Interfaith Center has been living its mission ‘to advance mutual trust, understanding, and cooperation among faith communities in order to work together for the common good of the region.’ In 2014, we began to envision how we could more fully develop our goals of educating and encouraging more people who seek to bridge differences and work for the common good by working with schools of higher education preparing students for vocations in religious leadership. We know from our research, as well as conversations, that there is a need for today’s generation of leaders to be well-equipped to serve in the rich mix of the multicultural, multireligious world into which they are graduating. We also know that it is not always possible for academic institutions to individually offer the courses, practical learnings, and experiences of interfaith encounter that are needed and desired. As a backbone organization with education and dialogue amongst religious differences at our center, we started developing the concept of an Inter-Seminary Initiative.
We are delighted that the Carpenter Foundation has awarded the Interfaith Center a 3-year grant to explore and advance this concept more fully. Over the next three years, we will be researching, developing and implementing a plan to create opportunities for interfaith learning among faculties, administrators, and students, preparing them to live and lead faithfully in a religiously diverse world.
Rev. Edward Livingston is the project manager for this initiative and oversees the logistics, timeline, development, and implementation of the Initiative, but the scope and direction of the Initiative will be largely defined by the leaders from the participating schools. In addition to the recent retreat, we are engaged in a series of 'Listening Sessions' with seminaries that may choose to be partners in one or more aspects of the project.