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United Not Divided

Posted by Kayla Parker // July 11th 2012 // On Campus, Social Justice, Stories and Voices // no comments

Ren Pasco (picture, right; post, below) is a member of All Souls Church Tulsa, and will be starting school at The University of Oklahoma this Fall. She attended a summer Interfaith Leadership Institute hosted by the Interfaith Youth Core, and shares her reflections on this experience with us below.


I learned so much in a four day period of time at the Interfaith Leadership Institute. I experienced such kindness from others though we are different faiths.  I felt open to talk about anything with the people I met. I had previously never felt that open-ness and community outside of my high school youth group.

I learned how easy it can be to form relationships with people who are really different from me. I have had relationships with many people who were dissimilar from me in the past-try my entire friend group in high school- but to form those relationships in a matter of days: that was unique.  It was incredible to be in community with people who seemed so different from me but really also had a lot of similarities. The people I spent four days with have changed everything for me. Interfaith work is more important to me now than ever before.

The relationships I formed at the Interfaith Leadership Institute were vast. I formed relationships with people who spanned across many religions. I know these are people I can rely on as I explore interfaith work.

The people I met during the four days helped me to grow a lot. Many ideas I had changed. I knew diversity, interfaith dialogue, and even interfaith service were amazing, important things but I had no clue how intentional creating those things must be. Previously I had done interfaith work with my church’s youth group during high school. We did service projects, talked, and had games nights with other local youth groups from many faiths. 

I learned that everyone has a story to tell. It was moving to hear others stories, regarding interfaith work, and to learn to tell my story.

I will of course take the skills I learned back to campus, but more than that I will take the knowledge that a community can be about the things we have in common as well as the things we don’t.

Being an incoming freshman I am not entirely sure of what interfaith programing my university already has.  I plan to explore what interfaith work is already being done as well as incorporating the skills and techniques I learned at the Interfaith Leadership Institute into what is being done.

The most powerful thing everybody at the Interfaith Leadership Institute helped me realize is love is something we can all agree on. Whether that love comes from a religious text, a moral code, or any other source, love unites us and can drive the interfaith movement.

About the Author

Kayla Parker is editor of Becoming: A Spiritual Guide for Navigating Adulthood. She is currently a seminarian at Yale Divinity School, and Ministerial Intern at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden, CT.
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