June 5, 2023 | 16 Sivan 5783
Miller Center to Co-Host Annual Conference of International Council of Christians and Jews
June 18-21, 2023
The upcoming conference will include two full days at Hebrew College, as well as time at Boston College, Boston University, and Simmons University. The theme of the ICCJ 2023 Conference is “Negotiating Multiple Identities: Implications for Interreligious Relations.”
The opening day events at Simmons University, from 4:00-6:30 pm, are open to the general public.
registration will remain open for local attendees throughout the duration of the event. Advance registration is appreciated.
Eboo Patel Visits Hebrew College, Promotes New Book, and Champions BILI
Eboo Patel, the founder and president of Interfaith America, visited Hebrew College at the invitation of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership and promoted his new book, We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy. Interfaith America is an important partner in the Miller Center’s undergraduate Building Interfaith Leadership Initiative (BILI) Launchpad Fellowship.
“[The Miller Center’s BILI] is one of the programs that meets the moment and that we hope lasts for an eternity. Every year, America is going to need a class of exceptionally young Interfaith leaders who go through a rigorous program and think of interfaith leadership as a vocation.” — Eboo Patel, Founder and President of Interfaith America
Patel spoke alongside longtime friend Rabbi Or Rose, director of the Miller Center, on topics including the origins of Interfaith America, how to let religion bridge rather than divide us, and the Muslim influence on blues music. A recording of the event is available on our YouTube page.
Support the Miller Center and the next generation of interfaith leaders here.
Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes
By Kyle Desrosiers, Administrative Assistant and Master of Divinity student at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Every month, we honor an individual (or group) who inspires the bridge-building efforts of the Miller Center. Each honoree uniquely embodies the values of inclusivity, justice, and compassion. Reverend Howard Thurman, an African American Christian minister, writer, and Civil Rights leader, is our Beacon of Hope for the month of June. Rev. Thurman’s teachings call for individual and societal transformation, encouraging dialogue and sensitivity to the complexities of inter-racial and interreligious coalition-building.
Among Thurman’s most widely read works is Jesus and the Disinherited and Meditations of the Heart, in which he weaves together prophetic and mystical traditions. His legacy inspires contemporary scholars like Dr. Shively T. J. Smith, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Boston University School of Theology, who speaks of Rev. Thurman as a “pastor” and “sage” of the Civil Rights Movement: “He was a mentor and advisor to people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And it is said that Dr. King carried a copy of Jesus and the Disinherited with him as a reminder of the work he was doing with nonviolent protest.”
Rev. Thurman also co-founded The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples with the Reverend Alfred Fisk in San Francisco in 1944. The congregation was one of the earliest inter-racial, ecumenically inclusive congregations in the United States. Rev. Thurman is also known for having served as the first Black Dean of Boston University’s Marsh Chapel from 1953 to 1965, a groundbreaking appointment at the predominately white institution. Throughout his life, Thurman remained dedicated to the work of the head, heart, and hands.
Less well-known but equally inspiring is Thurman’s commitment to interfaith friendship and solidarity. One example dear to our work at the Miller Center is the relationship of Rev. Thurman to Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1924–2014), the founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement and an influential American spiritual figure in his own right. The two met while Rev. Thurman was Dean of Marsh Chapel and Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi was a graduate student in the MA program in Psychology and Religion. Schacter-Shalomi identified his time with Thurman as a turning point in his life. The two men forged a close relationship based on shared passions for mystical traditions and embodied pedagogies. Schachter-Shalomi went on to implement several of Thurman’s insights and methods as he developed his transformative vision of Judaism in the twentieth century.
Rev. Thurman’s teachings continue to move us to contemplate the spiritual call to honor the divine image within all people and to pursue practices of compassion, justice, and peace. As he wrote in Footprints of a Dream: The Story of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples: “The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and women often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication, they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.”
With reverence to the Rev. Thurman’s legacy, The Miller Center is also excited to co-host the annual conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) on June 18-21. The conference will include a visit to the Howard Thurman Center at Boston University and a session entitled “Exploring the Interreligious Legacy of Rev. Howard Thurman” facilitated by Dr. Shively T. J. Smith, the Miller Center’s Rabbi Or Rose; and Mr. Nick Bates of the Howard Thurman Center.
Please join us for this timely program, as we seek to further the legacy of a true interreligious hero.
State of Formation: A Miller Center Publication
The Miller Center co-publication State of Formation recently published a fantastic new batch of articles from our undergraduate fellows. Two are featured below.
Accompanying the Light within All People
“In my home tradition of Quakerism, one of the most enduring symbols of faith is the Light. Accompanying the Light—what is also known as “that of God”—is a belief that Light exists within all people. This can sometimes be treated as more of a “sound bite” than a deep commitment, but in spaces where the teaching is honored it can be a truly transformational gateway to the dignified treatment of all.”
Bridging Differences by Remembering Common Humanity
“During the 2016 presidential election, as the socio-political climate of the entire nation changed, I observed polarization and the creeping normalization of xenophobia in my own high school. This was the moment when I realized that something needed to be done in order to help people translate between various cultures, faiths, and worldviews, so I started the Interfaith Club in my high school. Even though I had always thought about interfaith, this was when I started to think more deeply about it.”
Help Us Support the Next Generation of Interfaith Leaders
Following another successful year of interfaith learning and leadership formation across our variety of programs, fellowships, and events, we would like to thank our supporters who have enabled us to impact the hearts and minds of our fellows. What better way to celebrate than by sharing the impact of the Miller Center on the next generation of interfaith leaders.
“Beyond supporting my personal inquiry into the depth of Dharmic Traditions, the BILI fellowship has more broadly showed me that understanding the history and nuance of each world religion is a crucial step in creating a future where interfaith cooperation and dialogue can be commonplace. This insight of using the interfaith lens to view the different Dharmic traditions is something that spurred me to further my interfaith work on campus.” — Ishan Datey, 2022-2023 Fellow and Georgetown University student
“One of the things that I learned [in the Miller Center’s Dignity Project] is that it’s possible to have a community like this where teenagers can learn to be so supportive and respectful of each other and bring their full selves through art, music, or however they want to express themselves.” — Nat Penn, 2022-2023 Dignity Project Fellow
“As a member of the BILI fellowship, I wouldn’t say I have found a definition of interfaith that I believe is all-encompassing, but I have found concepts that are synonymous. To me, thinking about interfaith is thinking about community. It’s about creating spaces of conversation and openness by providing empathy and compassion to everyone around you. It’s about being a listener and being open to being curious. As I near the end of my second semester of being a BILI fellow, I am excited to see how I can continue conversations and invite others around me to the concept of interfaith.” — Amanpreet Sehra, 2022-2023 BILI fellow, Executive Director of SikhTeens, and student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Your support helps us empower the next generation of interfaith leaders like Ishan, Natt, & Amanpreet. Thank you!
Bridges and Barriers to Belief and Belonging: A Workshop with Interfaith Photovoice
Interfaith Photovoice founder Dr. Roman Williams will facilitate a photovoice activity in which participants use their own photographs to have a conversation about bridges and barriers to belief and belonging.
When? June 8 | 7-9 p.m.
Where? Hebrew College, Room 102
Learn more & register
International Council of Christians and Jews (Boston, 2023)
“Negotiating Multiple Identities: Implications for Interreligious Relations”
When? June 18 to 21, 2023
Where? Hebrew College, Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground at Boston University, Simmons College, & Boston College
Learn more & register
About the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center of Hebrew College
The Miller Center was established in 2016 in honor of Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller (of blessed memory), MAJS’05. Our mission is to provide current and future religious and ethical leaders with the knowledge and skills to serve in a religiously diverse society.
Please consider supporting this important work with a financial gift. Thank you!
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