A group of Ole Miss students is planning an inter-religious conference in mid-November.
The students are members of Dr. Mary Thurlkill’s Religion 300 class. They meet every Tuesday with Oxford residents for an inter-religious dialogue on campus.
“The conference is a community service project that is being organized by the students,” said Thurlkill.
The event will take place November 14 at St. John’s Catholic Church in Oxford.
This is the first time that an “Interfaith Conference” has been planned as an assignment in the Religion Department, and it has a lot to do with support from famed Ole Miss alumni, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy.
“We have some money from a grant from the Tuohy family, and that is paying for stipends and a reception for the speakers and the community,” Thurlkill said. “And a part of the service is to provide a forum for interfaith dialogue and discussion.”
With several speakers coming from across the southeastern United States, the group hopes to provide a space for those interested in participating in and learning more about interfaith dialogue.
Thurlkill described the conference as a “time when Christians and Muslims and those who are interested in learning about Christianity and Islam can talk to each other and hear from leaders in the community in those efforts.”
One such leader is Catholic Theological Union Professor Scott Alexander, who advised the group on inter-religious dialogue and its future at a recent meeting.
“You know, if there is anything that can help us get over the problems that we have with inter-religious misunderstanding, with inter-religious bigotry and hatred, and certainly violence that is justified in the names of religion, it’s to have our religious leaders actually have the experience of being formed in their own faith tradition … with input by and developing friendships with people of other faiths.”
Tristan Ruppert is a journalism major at Ole Miss. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.