Elon faculty celebrate Interfaith America milestones

Leaders of Elon’s multifaith initiatives mark transitions in important national partner.

Three Elon administrators represented the university at two different events signaling important transformations in its longtime partner organization, Interfaith America. Elon Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society and Professor of Religious Studies Brian Pennington traveled to Chicago to mark the 20th anniversary of the organization, while University Chaplain Rev. Kirstin Boswell and President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert celebrated of the launch Interfaith America’s “Black Interfaith Initiative.”

Interfaith America, previously known as the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), is an organization that helps connect various religious leaders and institutions including college campuses, government agencies, places of worship, civic action groups, private companies, and other interfaith organizations to strengthen religious diversity and interfaith acceptance across the United States. Founded in 2002 by Eboo Patel, IFYC helped spearhead the interfaith movement on college campuses across the country. At its 20th anniversary, it announced an expansion to its mission and rebranded itself “Interfaith America.”

Boswell and Lambert attended the “Celebrating Black Interfaith” event held at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in November. The program featured presentations of poetry, dance, painting, reading, video and more — all focused on the complex intersections of Black identities and faith identities.

“The most inspirational part of the evening for me was to hear the young voice of Sasa Aakil, youth poet laureate, who spoke so movingly and lovingly about growing up nurtured by Muslim parents and a Christian grandmother and living joyfully in the intersections of those communities,” said Lambert. “I was so inspired by her that I have already spoken to community members about the possibility of Alamance County having a youth poet laureate. We have so much to learn from the voices of young people.”

Elon University has enjoyed an affiliation with IFYC/Interfaith America for over a decade and continues to work alongside the organization’s mission by promoting multifaith education, awareness and acceptance.