Emerging Religious Leaders Seminar 2016 Recap

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ERLS 2016 participants at the ISNA Interfaith Unity Banquet.

Emerging Religious Leaders Seminar 2016 participants at the ISNA Interfaith Unity Banquet.

Shoulder to Shoulder recently held its 3rd Annual Emerging Religious Leaders Seminar (ERLS) for seminarians, rabbinical students, and other emerging religious leaders at the 53rd annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). From September 1-5, fifteen participants met for a number of in-depth workshops with guest speakers and attended sessions at the ISNA convention relevant to important issues for the larger American Muslim community.

The goal of the Emerging Religious Leaders Seminar is to prepare participants for leadership in inter-religious efforts to end anti-Muslim sentiment and promote inclusive pluralism in the United States. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim guest speakers and experts provided in-depth analysis of the current climate of Islamophobia in the U.S. and strategies for addressing anti-Muslim bigotry in communities.

The group held wide-ranging discussions about faith community responses to anti-Muslim bigotry and attended ISNA workshops on legislative representation and youth empowerment. In true interfaith fashion, the group attended Friday afternoon jumu’ah prayers with many of the ISNA attendees. That evening, the rabbinical students organized a Shabbat service, explaining its significance for the Christian seminarians. The ERLS’s Jewish participants then arranged a Saturday morning cross-textual study about halal and kosher food laws in the Qur’an and Torah, as well as their associated commentaries. On Sunday morning, the seminarians organized a lectio divina discussion on readings from the Book of Psalms.

As one participant noted, “The Emerging Religious Leaders Seminar represents an incredibly important peacebuilding mechanism for the Abrahamic faiths and beyond – we gained not only theory but also practice behind how American Jews and Christians (who will someday lead faith communities of our own) relate to American Muslims. Now we have a toolkit for nerdy stuff like interreligious textual analysis and the fun stuff like coffee and donuts.”

If you’d like to receive updates about next year’s ERLS and other Shoulder to Shoulder news, subscribe here. We’d like to extend our deep thanks to the incredible slate of guest speakers and facilitators who shared their knowledge and friendship with the ERLS team:

Kalia Abiade – Center for New Community
Dr. Ingrid Mattson – University of Western Ontario (and former President of ISNA)
Jaye Starr – Hartford Seminary
Dr. Nancy Fuchs Kreimer – Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Sara Trumm – Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
T.C. Morrow – National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Reverend Richard Killmer – Christian Reformed Church in North America (and former Executive Chair of Shoulder to Shoulder)
Dr. Doug Leonard – Global Mission at the Reformed Church in America
Rabbi Joshua Stanton – Congregation B’nai Jeshurun
Hind Makki – Side Entrance
Dr. Kathryn Lohre – Evangelical Lutheran Church Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations (and former President of the National Council of Churches)
Rabia Chaudry – Safe Nation Collaborative (and Serial podcast fame!)
Kameelah M. Rashad – Muslim Wellness Foundation and University of Pennsylvania
Shareda Hosein – Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (and 35-year veteran of the US Army)

Our special thanks to Marie Goumballa, Shoulder to Shoulder’s Project Associate, for her tireless efforts in setting up the ERLS meeting spaces, arranging food, transportation, and lodging for our many guests, and generally making sure that the ERLS participants had a seminar to participate in.

We’ve added some extra pictures of our excellent speakers and group below:






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