Three members of the St. Thomas community recently participated in the White House Interfaith Conference for developing initiatives and programs for multifaith service engagement. The conference was held Saturday through Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Students Adam Baker and Nick Yannarelly, and  Don Beyers, assistant director of Campus Ministry, were among 150 students and staff selected from more than 500 university community members to participate in the conference. 

Sponsored by the White House Office for Faith Based and Neighborhood Initiatives, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and facilitated by Interfaith Youth Core, the conference challenged and equipped students, staff and faculty with tools and resources for developing and promoting interfaith service initiatives at their campuses and communities. 

A highlight of the conference was a visit to the White House to meet with Joshua DuBois, the executive director of Faith Based Initiatives, and nationally known interfaith leader Eboo Patel.  

Baker and Yannarelly hope to collaborate with other student leaders and campus organizations in developing potential interfaith-based service initiatives on campus this year and years following. 

Inspired by President Barack Obama’s inaugural address, Beyers noted, student participants took serious his reminder that: “We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.”