This week CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson attended the first ever Michigan Avenue Forum. The event took place at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in partnership with the Downtown Islamic Center (DIC). The keynote address was given by Eboo Patel, Founder and Director of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and author of “Acts of Faith.”
The forum aims to present a series of events, open and free to the public, that feature dynamic thinkers and public leaders in live lecture or debate format, discussing current issues of civic and ethical priority.
Held in the church’s sanctuary, participants represented multiple faiths and included congregants of the two hosting religious institutions. Patel, supported by recent discourse from President Barack Obama calling for more interreligious and civic engagement, spoke on the need to mobilize 20,000 interfaith and intercultural leaders among youth and young adults within the next decade. He positioned Chicago to be the global leader in the interfaith movement due to the city’s legacy as the birthplace of the modern interfaith movement—the 1893 inception of the Parliament of World Religions at the World’s Fair Columbian Exposition.
Of the topics discussed, Patel highlighted that interfaith leaders will need certain skill sets to encourage people to be more open with those of other faiths or beliefs. One such skill is being an effective storyteller of one’s personal experiences and reframing dialogue to be inclusive and respectful of everyone.
Both DIC and IFYC are partner organizations of CAIR-Chicago.
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