In his address to delegates at the Called To Be Neighbors conference, President Robert Henry expounded on the ways OCU has been a leader among United Methodist schools in the area of interfaith dialogue and engagement.
On the curricular side
OCU augments its required "Survey of World Religions" course with a service learning component that takes students out into Oklahoma City’s diverse religious community.
Each spring, OCU students present a World Religion Expo for church youth groups and others interested in learning more about the major world religions.
And, as of this academic year, students in all degree tracks have the option of adding Interfaith Studies as a minor.
On the cocurricular side
Religious Life at OCU has expanded beyond the Wesley Center to include other student religious organizations such as The Jewish Stars and the MSA (Muslim Student Association).
An Interfaith Advisory Board, composed of students, faculty, staff, and community religious leaders, meets regularly and makes recommendations on ways to expand and improve interfaith engagement on campus and in the community. One student-led endeavor, Better Together Week, received national recognition this summer by IFYC.
Future plans include creation of a student interfaith council, a larger slate of activities for Better Together Week, and expanding interfaith dialogue on campus through the "OCU Talks" program, a monthly gathering of students, faculty, and community leaders who discuss matters of diversity.
The university also is developing plans for an Interfaith Residence Hall and, along with it, the possibility of student interns and a staff position dedicated to Interfaith Life on campus.
In developing its efforts in interfaith engagement, OCU has found inspiration and direction from The United Methodist Church’s guidelines for interreligious relationships. The Church’s statement, "Called to Be Neighbors and Witnesses," can be found at www.umc.org/what-we-believe.
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