35 colleges send reps to interfaith conference at OCU
Panelists discuss religious life at United Methodist colleges during a national conference at OCU. PHOTO BY JOSEPH MORROW, IFYC
Campus ministers, students, faculty, and even college presidents from 35 United Methodist-affiliated colleges and universities were among the 100-plus participants in Called To Be Neighbors, a national collegiate interfaith conference held at Oklahoma City University on Oct. 17-18.
The event consisted of panel discussions and breakout sessions on topics including: "The State of Religious Diversity on United Methodist Campuses," "Wesleyan Tradition and Interfaith Cooperation," "A Vision for Interfaith Cooperation on United Methodist Campuses," and "Religious Life Amid Religious Diversity."
Sponsors were the denomination’s General Board of Higher Education & Ministry, OCU, Emory & Henry College, and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), and the conference was underwritten by the Lilly Endowment and TMF (Texas Methodist Foundation).
OCU President Robert Henry opened the conference by welcoming participants and outlining the ways Oklahoma City University has been a leader in college interfaith work in recent years.
Eboo Patel, the founder of IFYC, praised OCU and encouraged all United Methodist universities to develop strategies for being welcoming places of interfaith dialogue, service, and engagement.
Speakers from OCU included Mark Davies, professor of Social and Ecological Ethics; junior religion major Melaina Riley, who is a Bishop Scholar; and Imam Imad Enchassi, who chairs Islamic Studies. Rev. Dr. Davies also was one of the conveners for the conference and served as host.
The two-day gathering concluded with a time for delegations to reflect and develop action plans. Many campus ministers reported plans to immediately implement back home some of what they learned at OCU.
Organizers were pleased with attendance at the conference — only the second of its kind — and pledged to continue explorng ways to strengthen the connection between the Church’s institutions of higher education.