Over the summer, the House of Bishops unanimously passed a theological statement on interfaith relations that affirms the Christian call to reach out in love and genuine openness to know and to understand those of other religious traditions. The statement is a gentle reminder that engaging in dialogue with people of other faiths is not just a good idea, but an expression of one’s Christian identity.
I am excited that Eboo Patel will be with us at Biennial Conference 2010 in San Antonio this November where the theme is “From Every Family, Language, People, and Nation.” In the 1990s, Patel became deeply concerned by the persistent rise in religious extremism, conflict, and violence. An American Muslim, he formed the Interfaith Youth Core in 1999 as an antidote in the belief that meaningful dialogue among young people from many faiths builds mutual respect, promotes cooperation, and empowers shared service for the common good. Without this dialogue, Patel asserts, violence and hatred are perpetuated.
Understanding one another and working collaboratively for the common good as people of faith is not easy, but certainly necessary in our pluralistic society and interdependent world. As Christian communities that intentionally welcome families of all faiths, Episcopal schools are uniquely equipped to engage in the kind of religious dialogue and collaboration envisioned by the House of Bishops and Eboo Patel. What are the challenges and opportunities at your school, and how are you responding?