At the annual Inter­faith Lead­er­ship Insti­tute in New York City in May, par­tic­i­pants were asked to describe what inter­faith work means to them. Lindsey Bressler, CSSH’18, one of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives from North­eastern, noted that it means working with a diverse group of people.

I’ve been really inter­ested in inter­faith work as a whole,” said Bressler of her col­leagues at Northeastern’s Center for Spir­i­tu­ality, Dia­logue and Ser­vice. “Going to the center is an expe­ri­ence that is nothing short of ulti­mate com­pas­sion and love. Everyone is so accepting, and open, and willing to listen. I have never been in an envi­ron­ment like that before.”

Bressler, a member of North­eastern Hillel and a second-​​year stu­dent studying eco­nomics and inter­na­tional affairs, was one of eight North­eastern stu­dents who attended the three-​​day con­fer­ence, which aimed to equip under­grad­u­ates, staff, and fac­ulty from col­leges nation­wide with the skills to engage diverse reli­gious and non-​​religious iden­ti­ties to build the inter­faith move­ment on their campuses.

Eboo Patel, Northeastern’s inau­gural inter­faith lead­er­ship fellow founded Inter­faith Youth Core, an orga­ni­za­tion hosting the annual event.

Northeastern’s Center for Spir­i­tu­ality, Dia­logue and Service—which is located in Ell Hall and is home to the Sacred Space—serves and sup­ports the spir­i­tual, reli­gious, and social jus­tice com­mit­ments of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity. The center designs inno­v­a­tive pro­grams that explore spir­i­tu­ality, reli­gious diver­sity, inter­cul­tural com­pe­tence, and civic engage­ment at the local and global level. This includes working with 28 stu­dent groups and offering oppor­tu­ni­ties for wor­ship and med­i­ta­tion ses­sions as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties for dia­logue, ser­vice, social action, and global lead­er­ship development.

What we learned while at this con­fer­ence is that North­eastern is leading the way in terms of pro­moting and fos­tering inter­faith rela­tion­ships on a col­lege campus,” said Patrick B. Reyes, the center’s pro­gram man­ager for spir­i­tu­ality, edu­ca­tion, and dia­logue initiatives.

Under­standing how stu­dents with dif­ferent reli­gious beliefs engage with one another is just as impor­tant to the center as offering spir­i­tual sup­port, said Shaya Gre­gory Poku, pro­gram man­ager for global learning, ser­vice, and social action ini­tia­tives and pro­gram director of Northeastern’s Social Jus­tice Resource Center.

This was the second year North­eastern par­tic­i­pated in the Inter­faith Lead­er­ship Insti­tute. The annual event, Reyes noted, rep­re­sents the quin­tes­sen­tial oppor­tu­nity for stu­dents to share their work with other uni­ver­si­ties and learn how to better engage the entire campus community.

I learned new approaches to get­ting others engaged and inter­ested in cre­ating mutual rela­tion­ships of respect and under­standing of those from dif­ferent faith back­grounds,” said Michelle Wan­grow, BHS’16, a phys­ical therapy student.

Wan­grow got involved with the center after forming the Latter-​​day Saint Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion in 2011. The center, she said, not only pro­vides an open envi­ron­ment to learn about dif­ferent reli­gious beliefs, but has also helped strengthen her own faith community.

The LDSSA now meets twice a week, and this has given me the oppor­tu­nity to grow stronger within my com­mu­nity and reach out to those who are mem­bers or are inter­ested in learning about our faith,” Wan­grow said.