Three students represented Concordia at the fourth annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge conference in September.
Concordia’s 2014-15 Interfaith Scholars, Samantha Adank ’16, Fargo, N.D., Leslie Bellwood ’15, Great Falls, Mont., and Rosina Halverson Studer ’16, Granite Falls, Minn., traveled to Washington, D.C., with Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, director of the Forum on Faith and Life. The students presented their paper, “Student-Led Interfaith Service Projects: Strategies for Success,” at the national conference.
“I felt so honored and blessed to be at the conference,” Adank says. “It’s truly rewarding to know that the work I do as an Interfaith Scholar at Concordia is part of a bigger movement to change the world for the better.”
During the conference, Concordia also was held up as a vanguard interfaith institution. Dr. Eboo Patel, an international interfaith leader, praised the college for embracing its Lutheran identity to form an interfaith cooperation statement that is grounded in both the college’s mission and the greater Evangelical Lutheran Church in America mission.
During the students’ time in Washington, D.C., they also participated in the 9/11 Interfaith Unity Walk, a memorial service in which various houses of worship and embassies on Embassy Row opened their doors and provided educational, cultural and experiential services to participants.
“It was amazing to see the practice of interfaith between so many religious and secular people on the 9/11 Unity Walk,” Bellwood says.
President Obama launched the challenge in 2011 as an initiative asking higher education institutions to commit to interfaith and community service programming.
Now, more than 400 institutions have responded to the call.
“It was truly empowering to meet with political and higher education leaders that are creating the new field of interfaith, which I hope to help grow,” Bellwood says.
Bussie also spoke on a panel at the conference. Her paper was titled “Advancing a Field of Interfaith Studies: Interfaith Cooperation in the Curriculum.”