Interfaith in Action
Ohio Wesleyan Students Travel to Chicago for Annual Leadership Summit
Six Ohio Wesleyan students participated this fall in the Interfaith Leadership Summit led by Interfaith America. Held in Chicago, the event annually brings together students and educators nationwide to promote religious diversity.
“I loved being able to meet students from across the country who shared the same passions for interfaith inclusivity,” said Mylah Morris ’24 of Medina, Ohio. “It was incredible to hear other people’s stories and struggles on their campus and find common ground among so many different faith traditions. Everyone was incredibly vulnerable, kind, and open-minded.”
Along with Morris, OWU students participating in this year’s Interfaith Leadership Summit were Sharique Ahmed ’24 of Mumbai, India; Grey Kennedy ’24 of Marengo, Ohio; Reeve Metcalf ’23 of Huntersville, North Carolina; and Adrian Yates ’23 of Columbus, Ohio, with Phoenix Ball ’24 of Westerville, Ohio, attending virtually. They were accompanied by University Chaplain Chad Johns and connected in Chicago with Ahmed Hamed ’20, who served as an interfaith trainer for the conference.
“Coming into college, I never saw myself becoming an interfaith advocate or leader, but now that I am here, I know it’s where I am supposed to be,” said Morris, a Neuroscience and Psychology major and a Women’s and Gender Studies minor. “ The conference was a huge eye-opener for me and my housemates; we all left with new perspectives on life and knowledge of how to live in harmony with our fellow earthlings.”
On campus, Morris lives in the Interfaith House, one of OWU’s Small Living Units. These residences house up to 12 students, all of whom are interested in exploring a specific topic of interest and sharing their knowledge with others through special projects conducted each semester.
Summit participant Adrian Yates ’23 also lives in the Interfaith House and came back to campus filled with inspiration and ideas.
“I really enjoyed the breakout rooms,” said Yates, a Bachelor of Fine Arts major from Columbus, Ohio. “I liked being able to talk to everyone about their different faiths and learn about how they worshipped. Everyone was incredibly kind and the atmosphere was so welcoming.
“I also got to see how other interfaith spaces were being created and fostered on other campuses, which gave me lots of ideas for OWU’s Interfaith House,” said Yates, who hopes to become a graphic novelist and book artist after completing graduate school.
Phoenix Ball ’24, also a resident of the Interfaith House, attended the summit virtually and especially appreciated participating in small group discussions.
“It allowed us to discuss what we were talking about, but also allowed us to connect, despite attending the conference virtually,” said Ball, a Zoology major and Music Composition minor from Westerville, Ohio. “This conference helped me with skills that are needed to have effective interfaith cooperation, and that is something I would like to continue to have throughout my life.”
University Chaplain Chad Johns, D.Min., said the value of programs such as the Interfaith
Leadership Summit are that they “help students learn to work with and appreciate people who believe differently than they do.”
“We are fortunate to be a part of the OWU community, which has seen the value of interfaith connections ever since our founding, when our charter declared that the university would be ‘accessible to all religious denominations,’” said Johns, a 2002 OWU graduate. “The world’s various religious, spiritual, and secular traditions have a lot of wisdom to offer, and I believe we can all benefit from bringing people of diverse beliefs together in spaces of mutual cooperation and dialogue.”