Shortly after the world rang in the new solar year, 27 undergraduate students and their on-campus mentors traveled to Washington, D.C. from across the country to participate in a mid-program convening for the Building Interfaith Leadership Initiative (BILI) Launchpad Fellowship.
Led by staff from Interfaith America and the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning and Leadership at Hebrew College, these students and educators embarked on four days of intensive learning, reflecting, and sharing about the ways that interfaith cooperation has helped to build and sustain communities on the national and local level. The group toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the U.S. Capitol Building. We heard from faith-based advocates like Rev. Rob Schenck and Rev. Hope Christensen of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, Larissa Gil-Sanhueza of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Rev. Adam Russell Taylor of Sojourners.
We learned how interfaith cooperation undergirds our country’s international and domestic work at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Department of Education’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The group also connected with other emerging interfaith leaders and their mentors at Howard University and Georgetown University, a historically Black institution, and a Jesuit-founded institution, respectively.
This excursion across our nation’s capital was just one way that Interfaith America and the Miller Center at Hebrew College sought to share the powerful potential of interfaith cooperation with our cohort of BILI Launchpad Fellows. After a semester of intensive online learning, coupled with trips to Chicago and D.C. in the summer and winter, the BILI Launchpad Fellows are now embarking on their own interfaith leadership projects on campus, using the wisdom they have gleaned from powerhouse interfaith leaders across many fields to inform their own community-building initiatives.