The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

Local colleges join White House interfaith/community service initiative 3 August , 2011

When President Barack Obama kicks off his national Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge today in Washington, D.C., the Rochester area will be well represented. Officials from State University College at Geneseo, The College at Brockport, and Monroe Community College will be among the estimated 400 leaders from about 200 institutions of higher education expected to attend.

Muhammad Shafiq, executive director of Nazareth College’s Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue, could not go, because it would be difficult to travel during the Ramadan holy season. He fasts from dawn to sunset.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are also participating in the initiative, but aren’t sending anyone to the summit.

The White House initiative hopes to bring together people from different religions and backgrounds to tackle community problems. Obama believes that American colleges are fertile ground for this work because they typically stress both community service and religious tolerance and cooperation.

“I think this gives a national perspective on what other universities are up to. We may pick up some ideas — and incorporate them into our planning,” said Tom Matthews, director of leadership education, development and training at Geneseo, who is attending this morning’s kickoff.



The Dharmic American Community Answers Obama’s Interfaith Challenge 5 April , 2011

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“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” –President Obama

The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge will help magnify, value and encourage America’s religious and cultural diversity. The initiative will engage the rich, pluralistic diverse communities in partnerships for the common good. It will empower them to be innovative in providing services (seva) to communities in need. The Campus Challenge can build social cohesion and bring together America’s increasingly diverse religious society and help advance peace (ahimsa) and justice at home and abroad. It can also foster future collaboration, negotiation and innovation, which can create jobs and promote economic growth and diplomacy.



Interfaith and community service on President Obama’s priority list 30 March , 2011

The year-long Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, announced by President Barrack Obama on March 17, strives to incorporate religious and community cooperation and involvement.

College campuses are often a melting pot of cultural and religious identities from which students can gain respect and understanding of one another’s affiliations. This challenge hopes to incorporate the educational aspect of that melting pot into the community.

In a video message, President Obama encouraged campus-based religious and non-religious organizations to work with community organizations and houses of worship to tackle year-long community service projects.

“Our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted,” President Obama said at the 2009 National Prayer Breakfast, “to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what is broken.”



Next Year in the White House: A Seder Tradition 24 March , 2011

One evening in April 2008, three low-level staff members from the Obama presidential campaign — a baggage handler, a videographer and an advance man — gathered in the windowless basement of a Pennsylvania hotel for an improvised Passover Seder.

The day had been long, the hour was late, and the young men had not been home in months. So they had cadged some matzo and Manischewitz wine, hoping to create some semblance of the holiday.

Suddenly they heard a familiar voice. “Hey, is this the Seder?” Barack Obama asked, entering the room.

So begins the story of the Obama Seder, now one of the newest, most intimate and least likely of White House traditions. When Passover begins at sunset on Monday evening, Mr. Obama and about 20 others will gather for a ritual that neither the rabbinic sages nor the founding fathers would recognize.


Eboo Patel: The President’s Campus Interfaith Initiative 18 March , 2011

President Obama has made interfaith cooperation a priority from the beginning — literally. In his inaugural address, he said:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

It has been a thread through several of his other speeches.

At the National Prayer breakfast in February 2009, he said: “The particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times.”



From the Huffington Post: What’s So Controversial about an Interfaith Prayer for Peace? 9 February , 2011

The National Prayer Breakfast is based on broad inclusivity, inviting “individuals of various nationalities, religions and political orientation in the power of prayer.” So at this year’s breakfast on Feb. 3, why was an interfaith prayer for world peace so controversial?