For Ivy Breivogel, interfaith work is inclusive work

Elon University’s Ripple Conference returns in-person from Feb. 17-19, 2023.

For Ivy Breivogel, director of the Ripple Conference and graduate intern for Multifaith and the Spirit & Pride Initiative, interfaith work is as natural and important as breathing.

Breivogel first heard of Elon University through her participation in the Ripple Conference as an undergraduate student at Warren Wilson College, and now, four years later, she is a graduate student in the Higher Education program at Elon and directing the conference herself.

“I see my religion as interfaith in itself. No two people believe the same thing, and we all come together and form beautiful communities not despite that, but because of it,” Breivogel explains. “Religious work is a form of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) work. It is bridging across differences, learning about each other, working together and building a better world together.”

Ivy Breivogel at the Ripple Conference, 2019
Ivy Breivogel at the Ripple Conference in 2019.

As a Unitarian Universalist, a member of a small and relatively unknown religious tradition, Breivogel has often found herself on the sidelines of conversations about religious identity. But her desire to engage with Interfaith work has become a key aspect of how she views herself and the opportunities she wants to create for others.

Elon’s Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life has long been seen as a preeminent practitioner of multifaith work on college campuses, and the staff is always engaged in creating opportunities for education, celebration, and meaning-making around religious identity. The Ripple Conference, developed by a group of Truitt Center Multifaith Interns in 2016, is a student-led conference that encourages participants to engage in genuine (and fun!) interfaith work, explore their own identities, ask tough questions and further engage in sustained interfaith within their own communities.

For the first time in three years, the conference will be held in person at Elon University, this year from Feb. 17 through Feb. 19. The theme this year will be Stretching the Limits of Religious Identities, and centers on the idea that no religion, spirituality, faith tradition, philosophy or worldview is a monolith.

For Breivogel, this theme is part of the way she wants others to engage in interfaith work.

“Stretching the Limits of Religious Identity is a broad theme that really invites exploration into the personal parts of religion. It’s not just about coexisting and knowing about each other, it’s about understanding faiths as individual, personal, and deeply intertwined with our social identities. It’s about challenging stereotypes and generalizations and figuring out how to articulate your own journey toward meaning-making,” Breivogel said.

“If we are able to engage in conversations about our own religious, spiritual, and ethical identities, and make space to listen to other perspectives, we are doing the important work of ‘Tikkun Olam,’ or repairing the world,” explained Interim Assistant Dean of Multifaith Engagement Hillary Zaken, who is the staff advisor to the conference. “We invite Elon students, faculty and staff, as well as folks from other universities, to join us for this unique conference that Ivy and her student leadership team are curating. “

Breivogel hopes that participants in the Ripple Conference come ready to engage and learn, but also to realize that identity is fluid, and religious and spiritual orientations can – and should – change over the course of our lives, our journeys of self-discovery, and the ways we interact with the world.

“Every interaction we have is an interfaith interaction. The better we understand that reality, the better we will be at navigating it, forming relationships, and asking the right questions,” she said.

More about the Ripple Conference:

Early Bird Registration for the Ripple Conference is now open and will run through Jan. 30.

Registration information can be found at Elon students, faculty, and staff are invited to reach out to Ivy Breivogel or Hillary Zaken for codes for discounted participation.   On the website, you can register for the conference, apply for leadership, and view our schedule and other conference details as they become available. Opportunities include leading Breakout Sessions, Community Groups, Affinity Groups, or performing in the Sacred Sounds Coffee House.

For more information and updates about the Ripple Interfaith Conference, please follow Elon University’s Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life on Instagram and visit the Truitt Center website or the Ripple Conference website.