PS Portions

Public Witness through Interfaith Understanding: The Rev. Nicole Diroff

Watch as the Rev. Nicole Diroff (MDiv 2007) talks about her journey to seminary and what led her to her work in ministry as Associate Executive Director at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia.

As part of the Interfaith Center’s Inter-Seminary Initiative, the Interfaith Center’s 2017 Dare to Understand Award recipient, Eboo Patel (Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core) was the special guest at a breakfast and conversation event at LTSP. LTSP’s Dr. Jon Pahl, Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Professor in the History of Christianity, facilitated the conversation.

In the video, Pr. Diroff talks about the Initiative:

Seminarian M. Courtney Willcox reflects on the breakfast conversation:

An enthusiastic interfaith community gathered for a conversation with Eboo Patel, founder of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). What we heard and discussed was inspiring, encouraging and challenging, because interfaith work is all of those things and more.

Boo Patel with Prof. Jon Pahl.

Eboo Patel with Prof. Jon Pahl.

Patel talked about structure, and he talked about dreams. He was as concrete with ideas and examples as he was visionary. Service and justice impulses exist across all religious traditions, he said. Birthed from social entrepreneurship, Patel identified the stages an idea like the IFYC goes through to be nurtured and born: from project, to organization, to institution (which encourages patterns of activity), to movement, and, finally, to field. Fields last longer and are more about sustainability than immediacy and intensity.

Inculcating interfaith knowledge and expertise in service institutions like health care, education, community development, and law enforcement is a part of the interfaith field. Interfaith work is more than multiculturalism, as there needs to be knowledge of the religious traditions and of the community to arrive at a lived community experience. Interfaith reality has moved out of big cities like New York City and Chicago, and into small towns like Erie, Pennsylvania, where 1/3 of the students are refugees. Obviously, this impacts everything, from law enforcement to health care, from education to recreation.

The thread I heard winding through conversation was that of relationship. How important it is for interfaith leadership to be in relationship with our communities, certainly our faith communities, but also our local municipalities. This relationship allows us to orient around religion a little differently by helping to hold in tension differences and similarities of varied faiths and traditions, and facilitating communication and an increased level of understanding between divergent groups.

Seminarian Sue Loney added:

The “event” with Eboo Patel was, in a word, wonderful! The diversity of backgrounds, experiences, aspirations, and voices in our community has been one of LTSP’s greatest assets. In this season of turbulent change – both in the seminary and in the world around us – it is so important to hear voices like Eboo’s.

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