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Faiths in Conversation

Interfaith Dialogue, November 12, 2010
Reverend Mark A. Dennis, Jr., Eboo Patel, and Rabbi Michael Weinberg engage in converse during the Interfaith Dialogue.

CHICAGO, IL (November 18, 2010) – The interfaith dialogue held at North Park University on Tuesday, November 16 was a testament to the ability of people to hold serious and respectful discussions about religious and cultural differences, said Velda Love, the University's Director of Justice and Intercultural Learning.

Nearly 170 people from the school and community attended the session held in Anderson Chapel.

“I think they walked away encouraged that this dialogue is possible,” Love said. “There is such an attitude of fear that has been spread.”

Love added, “We don’t necessarily have to worship together, but we can relate to each other.”

The evening began with remarks by three panelists of different religions who focused on the theme, “Interfaith Dialogue: Living a Life of Faith in a Diverse World—Christians, Muslims and Jews Together.”

The Reverend Mark A. Dennis, Jr., senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Evanston. He previously served as an associate dean at the Howard University School of Divinity, and is president of the Alford Group, a national consulting firm specializing in assisting nonprofits.

Rabbi Michael Weinberg has led Temple Beth Israel in Skokie since 1987. He has served as the national chair of The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education and vice-chair of the Reform Movement’s national Commission on Lifelong Jewish Learning.

Eboo Patel, is the founder and executive director of Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based developing a global youth interfaith movement. US News & World Report named him as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009.

Dennis shared that God intended diversity and it is to be celebrated. Patel said his son has learned the Lord’s Prayer from the family’s nanny, who is a Christian. Patel added that by being exposed to the Christian faith at an early age, his son will better enable his son to ask larger questions when he is older. Weinberg spoke of his community of faith and its struggles.

Dennis’ and Weinberg’s congregations jointly sponsor a program feeding the homeless and the men have been friends for 21 years.

After the panelists spoke, the audience asked questions and shared their experiences. A Palestinian Christian student attending North Park said it was easier for her generation to dialogue with others than for others.

The panelists said they hoped that future dialogues on campus as well as elsewhere would include people from different streams of each faith.

After the dialogue, each of the panelists gave a blessing from their faith tradition and in their language.

The evening was part of the school’s campus theme program, which focuses this year on “What is a Life of Significance?” Love said she hopes to have three women lead a similar dialogue in the spring.