This August, five Elizabethtown Students were able to attend the Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) in Chicago. The three day conference was sponsored by the non-profit organization, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and consisted of sessions and networking meant to encourage relationships among the participants at the conference.
“It really focuses on bringing like-minded people together to talk and pass around ideas on how they can bring interfaith cooperation to their campus,” sophomore business administration and interfaith studies leadership double major Sam Epps said.
Etown is the first college in the nation to create and put into place an interfaith leadership studies major.
“We are developing a national profile that we are a leader in this area. With that comes this expectation that our students, our faculty, our staff will be present [at programs such as the ILI],” stated Chaplain and Executive Director of Purposeful Life Work & Ethical Leadership Tracy Wenger Sadd.
A couple years ago a group of students and staff went to an ILI conference when it was in Los Angeles, California in hopes of creating a Better Together organization.
Better Together is a nationwide organization with chapters at different colleges but overseen by IFYC; the purpose of this group is to encourage relationships and understanding across a variety of religious and non-religious worldviews.
Sophomore social work and interfaith leadership studies double major Bekah Smith is a part of Better Together and is hoping to take some of what she has learned and use it in order to further the Etown chapter of this organization.
“[The conference] was a lot of talking to students of different schools who have done different things, to see what may work here and what did work for them, what didn’t work for them,” Smith stated. “So we have things coming out of it with Better Together coming up soon.”
The Office of the Chaplain hopes to send another group of students to the next ILI, which will take place Jan. 27-29, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. They are hoping to send a variety of majors – both ILS and others – as well as people of diverse religious and non-religious world views.
Upon sending a variety of majors there is hopes of creating a network of students knowledgeable about interfaith issues who are willing to bring that knowledge to campus and then use it later in their own careers and future life plans.
“At the end of the day, Interfaith Youth Core, their goal is to create a better democracy and a better America,” Sadd stated.
Students interested in possibly going on the January trip or interested in being a part of the Better Together club can contact Sadd at firstname.lastname@example.org.