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NIU community invited to participate in discussions about beliefs

September 15, 2016

interfaith-centerpieceThe Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives invites the NIU community to come together for a series of dialogues centered upon personal beliefs.

The first in a series of six dialogues, “Interfaith 101: What is Interfaith” will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 20th, 2016, from 6-8 p.m., in the Staff Lounge at Founders Memorial Library.

Speakers during this dialogue, including the chair of the NIU’s Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives, Andrew Pemberton, hope to provide the campus and larger community with a better understanding of what the term “Interfaith” means and why it is important. 

“Interfaith is sort of a misnomer and implies that in order to be interested in the topic you have to be religious,” Pemberton said. “I am agnostic and find that interfaith work is incredibly important and beneficial.”

One only has to watch the news, read the newspaper or browse social media to see that divisive rhetoric is abundant in our society. Many discussions lead to building walls rather than building bridges. “We divide ourselves based on race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, political stance, etc. However, when it comes down to it, we’re not as different from one another as we are led to believe,” said Pemberton. “As an advocate for social justice and inclusion, I believe it’s important to help people come to that realization through open dialogue and service to others.” 

Interfaith programming not only helps uncover our similarities, but also provides participants with personal benefits. “Interacting with people who have beliefs different from my own has helped me become a more accepting individual. My own views have evolved as a result of being exposed to new perspectives that I had not considered before,” said Pemberton.

In addition to highlighting the importance of interfaith work and its beneficial outcomes, the Interfaith 101 dialogue will also focus on current interfaith initiatives that are underway at NIU. Students, faculty, staff and community members will also be encouraged to share their ideas for future interfaith programming.

Five more Interfaith Dialogues are scheduled for the remainder of the fall and spring semesters:  

Oct. 18, 2016, 6-8 p.m. – Welcome to The Darkside – Where in Hell Does this Fit?

Nov. 15, 2016, 6-8 p.m. – Attitude about Gratitude:  Interfaith Perspectives 

February 21, 2017, 6-8 p.m. – Love and Kindness

March 21, 2017, 6-8 p.m. – The Role of Spirituality in Formal Education

April 18, 2017, 6-8 p.m. – Faith, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 

Everyone is invited to participate in these dialogues, regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation. For more information about the Interfaith Dialogue Series, please contact Barbara Andree at [email protected].