"Three Young People Talk About Their Passion for Interfaith Dialogue," a Commentary by Vern Barnet

June 16, 2009

Author: Vern Barnet

Source: The Kansas City Star


Among the young people coming to Kansas City to learn about interfaith work are three who told me about their spiritual journeys.

They will join others, including adults with decades of experience in the field, June 25-28 at the conference of the North American Interfaith Network at Unity Village.

Joshua M. Z. Stanton of New York is studying to be a rabbi. He says, “As someone who came of age after Sept. 11, I view active outreach to other religious communities as a necessity rather than an option.”

Audra Teague of Columbus, Ohio, also identified 9/11 as a turning point. Immediately after the attacks, she organized an interfaith prayer service in Washington, D.C., where she was working.

“I am drawn to interfaith work because I have experienced firsthand the harm to community and family when religious differences lead to isolation and separation,” she said.

She attended the NAIN conference last year in San Francisco and describes it as “an amazing spiritual, intellectual and relational experience.”

Stephanie Hughes, who grew up in a rural coal-mining town in southern Illinois, emphasized her “sense of how interconnected we are.”

Hughes is interested in human relationships and “the way we as individuals connect to a text or story, and the way we seek to connect with one another, and with God.”