A Successful Divinity & Diversity Conference in Ohio!

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Shoulder to Shoulder’s Divinity & Diversity Conference a Success!

On a freezing cold weekend in late February 2015, over 100 people gathered at Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin, OH, to participate in the Divinity & Diversity Conference, which was co-organized by Shoulder to Shoulder, Noor, ISNA, and the local interfaith group, Safe Alliance for Interfaith Leaders (SAIL).  Keynote speakers talked about the changing religious demographics in America, the need for collaborating with conservative and secular actors in advancing inter-religious cooperation in US cities, and deepening inter-religious education and engagement.

Additionally, people across faith groups from the Central Ohio region and beyond, as well as representatives from the local school district, participated in skill-building and educational workshops and dialogue sessions, along with a church-hosted screening of the film “An American Mosque”.  The weekend sparked new relationships and initiatives, while deepening a local and regional commitment to developing collaborative inter-religious work for the common good.

A few of the Keynote speakers: 

Joseph DeMott

Joseph DeMott, ASPEN Institute

Joseph DeMott opened the conference focusing on the changing religious demographics in the United States and the Principled Pluralism approach to creating collaborative diverse communities.  Want to know more about Principled Pluralism?  You can order the full report here!



Dr. Deborah Lindsay, Minister of Spiritual Care at First Community Church

Dr. Deborah Lindsay and Ms. Karen Patterson presented on the importance of religious communities learning about the “other” and working together. Through interactive activities, Deborah and Karen guided participants in locating common values and building trust to achieve common goals, and they equipped participants with tools for leading similar activities in their own communities.


Sean Rose

Seán Rose, Interfaith Educator

Seán Rose (@SeanVRose) spoke to conference attendees about the importance of and key methods for interfaith education. Seán is an experienced and award-winning interfaith educator, facilitator, and trainer. He has worked on cross-cultural and interfaith programs in North America and Europe, most recently as Director of Training and Outreach for Project Interfaith.

 ISNA-sponsored conference banquet, featuring Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi

H.E. Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi

H.E. Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi

Sheikh al-Yaqoubi spoke about the importance of inter-religious relationships and solidarity in defeating violence in all its forms:  “This is part of the interfaith dialogue, in order to live together side by side in harmony, in order to co-exist, in order to defuse tension between the components of any society … we need to understand the other and respect the other, and you can’t look at the other as an enemy.”

You can view the full video of his speech here.


Conference featured in the Columbus news: 

Prior to the Divinity & Diversity conference, The Columbus Dispatch published an article, quoting Catherine Orsborn, Director of Shoulder to Shoulder: “Interfaith work can often make your own religious identity and your own faith stronger. Certainly, it can change the way you see certain things. But certainly, it can strengthen your own commitment.”

Click here to read the full article.

Additionally, the Columbus Dispatch ran an article after the conference featuring Sheikh al-Yaqoubi’s talk, linked here.

Many Thanks!

This conference was a success due to the number of individuals and organizations who were involved in the planning and proceedings of the event.  A special thanks to all of the local and regional groups who helped establish a great conference!

Noor Islamic Cultural Center (NICC)

Safe Alliance of Interfaith Leaders (SAIL)

Hilliard School District

Destination Hilliard

Community Relation Council

Sunrise Academy

Interfaith Association of Centeral Ohio (IACO)

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Here are just a few of the great moments captured throughout the conference:










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