Auburn Seminary's Youth Program Opens Up Multi-faith Dialogue

To promote world peace and understanding, a diverse body of youth from around the world will convene in New York for a multi-faith dialogue on June 26, 2005.

Co-sponsored by Auburn Theological Seminary (ATS) and Seeking Common Ground, the 5th annual "Face to Face/Faith to Faith" will be held at Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center in Holmes, NY for a course of three weeks, according to the ATS press release.

This year, students who range from age 16-18, who come from the Middle East, South Africa, and Northern Ireland, and are Christians, Jews and Muslims, will join with American counterparts to understand how different religious traditions can be used in building a more positive future.

According to the co-founder of Face to Face, longtime peace activist Melodye Feldman, the participants learn how to understand “the other” through “active, intentional listening and honest dialogue.”

"We are teaching them how to tell, and listen to, passionate points of view," said Feldman.

Executive Vice President of Auburn Seminary and fellow founder Katharine Henderson said the mission is “to appreciate the other's perspective."

The intensive two-week summer program includes religious study and exploration of sacred texts, communication skills, leadership, and peace-building workshops. As a part of the curriculum, students will visit NY City on July 5-6 for hands-on community service with Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP). They will take on tasks such as feeding the homeless and delivering meals to the elderly.

After the program, participants stay committed for at least one year as they continue the dialogue and skills-development in their home communities and over the Internet, while maintaining connections with their new friends.

Many past participants of the program serve as Leaders in Training (LITs), counselors, and office staff, using their own experience to guide students through the program.

Since the program first launched in 2001, more than 200 teens, especially from areas of increased religious conflicts, have participated in the conference.

Auburn Theological Seminary is a pioneer in multi-faith education located on Manhattan's upper west side in NY.