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Since our founding in 2004, Interfaith Philadelphia's vision is to have our region reflect the vibrancy of a religiously diverse democracy, one in which all people are valued, distinctive traditions are welcomed, and people of diverse backgrounds collaborate to shape a just and compassionate society.

 

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 grateful to The E. Rhodes and Elana B. Carpenter Foundation for its substantial support of this initiative since its inception. This has allowed us to create opportunities for interfaith learning among faculty members, 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.

For Theological Students

Student programming is an important component of the Inter-Seminary Initiative. As the staff, faculty, and administrations of ISI institutions foster relationships and deepen their interfaith understanding, their learnings and experiences should directly impact the students they teach, empowering those students to be better prepared to live, work, and lead in a diverse and pluralistic society. 

 

The ISI is committed to serving students in the following ways…. 

 

  • Student-Focused Programming - Each year, Interfaith Philadelphia and the Inter-Seminary Initiative offer at least one student-centered program. Most often these are student-led and provide opportunities for students from different ISI schools to engage with, and learn from each other.

  • Theological Internship Program - Our Theological Student Internship provides space for students from theological institutions to work within a dynamic and multifaceted nonprofit. Interfaith Philadelphia staff and the intern work together to create an internship that meets the skills, interests, and learning goals of the student. (Summer and academic year internships are available. If you are interested in interning with us, please contact info@interfaithphiladelphia.org)

  • Student Scholarships and Discounts on Interfaith Philadelphia trainings, workshops, and programs.

  • Relevant, practice-based program components -  We provide practice-based components in dean, faculty, and staff ISI programs, so they are better prepared to bring their learnings and experiences to their classrooms, institutions, and students.

Program Highlight:

ISI Student Interview Series

What does it mean to lead in a religiously diverse and pluralistic society?

 

In the spring of 2022, the ISI launched our first ever Student Interview Series, entitled "What Chaplaincy Can Teach Us About Interfaith Work.” In this virtual series, current and former theological students from multiple religious backgrounds shared their experiences as chaplains in hospitals, colleges, prisons, and/or the military, and described how chaplaincy impacted their faith and understanding of religious diversity. 

Watch the full series on YouTube.