All-Community Read

St. Olaf All-Community Read

Acts of Faith Cover

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). The book is a coming-of-age story about an Indian-born Muslim immigrant’s search for identity and development of an interfaith youth movement focused on building bridges across forms of difference that too-often divide.

More on Acts of Faith and Eboo Patel

The book addresses racism, bullying, immigration, and building up the next generation of young people to bring about a more just and compassionate world. Patel explores growing up a racial/ethnic/religious minority in a primarily white Midwestern suburb, becoming radicalized in college around issues of race and class, negotiating romantic relationships across racial and religious difference, and envisioning and working for a world where young people are mentored into compassion, service, and activism. Reading and discussing Patel’s book will help advance St. Olaf’s vision of equity and inclusion, particularly our commitment to “uplift and engage in mutual education about our diversity—such as race, religion and faith tradition, background and circumstance.”

Eboo’s Visit, October 29-30, 2020

Eboo Patel was slated to spend October 29-30, 2020, on campus engaging with the community around issues raised in his book and the work he does as a national interfaith leader. Due to the pandemic, Patel’s visit will now be virtual and will offer multiple opportunities for new students and all members of the community to interact with Patel about how the issues he raises in his book relate to our lives together on the Hill and beyond.

Information for:

New Students

Please visit the New Student Orientation site to learn more about the Common Read program.

Returning Students

As we remain physically distant, the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community, supported in part by a To Include is To Excel grant, is inviting you to connect with your peers over the summer by signing up for a book group through the All-Community Read. Students who want to participate in a book group will either receive a copy of the book in the mail, or for students currently residing outside the U.S., they will receive a link to the e-book and then a physical copy of the book when they return to campus.

Options for book groups for returning students:
Students can choose to be assigned to a book group. The meeting times for these book groups are listed in the sign up Google form below. An invitation to a Zoom video call for the discussion will be sent to you. 


Students can choose to form their own book groups. Student orgs/teams/musical ensembles, etc. are encouraged to take advantage of this option. On the Google form below, students should list the names of other students who will be in their book group and designate which student(s) will be leading the book group discussion. Leaders will be provided with discussion questions and paired with a faculty/staff mentor to prepare for leading discussion. Each student listed should ALSO fill out the Google form. The Lutheran Center is happy to help in setting up a time for your book group to meet. If your book group plans to set up its own time, we just ask that you please inform us when you plan to meet. We encourage students who are considering forming their own book groups to confirm with others in their proposed book group before signing up with the form.

Other opportunities to lead a book discussion:
We also need student volunteers to lead discussions of those who want to be assigned a group rather than create their own. Leaders of book groups will be provided with discussion questions and paired with a faculty/staff mentor to prepare for leading discussion.

Sign up:
Sign up to participate in the All-Community Read with this Google form.

Reading Guide:
Access an Acts of Faith reading guide


Thanks to a grant from To Include is to Excel, the Lutheran Center is able to provide a copy of the book for any faculty or staff member who would like to participate in a book discussion this summer. The faculty book discussion will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, July 21 from 2pm-3:30pm. The staff book discussion will take place via Zoom on Thursday, August 6, 1-2:30 p.m. Books will be mailed to you in June.

An additional invitation for faculty and staff is related to a new opportunity for all returning students: given recent survey reports of many Oles feeling disconnected to the college during this time of physical distancing, the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community is extending the opportunity to all returning students to receive a copy of Eboo Patel’s book and gather with peers to discuss it over the summer. We hope this All-Community Read might foster a sense of connection at a time when connections are harder to maintain.

Where do you come in? Students who volunteer to lead a book discussion group on Acts of Faith will be paired with a faculty or staff mentor to help them prepare for that role, so we are seeking volunteers who are willing to meet once with a student as they prepare to lead the discussion group in July or August. Please indicate whether you’re willing to lead one of these discussion groups in case we do not have enough student leaders for all groups. [Please note these book discussion groups are different than the Common Read discussion groups that some of you have already signed up for.]

To respond “yes” to either (or both!) of these invitations, please fill out this Google form.

Reading Guide:
Access an Acts of Faith reading guide

Alumni, Parents, and Friends

Alumni, parents, and friends are invited to read Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel and participate in book clubs around the country.

These national book discussions mirror the discussions our incoming students will be having on campus as part of their orientation through the Common Read program. The Common Read program introduces new students to areas of equity and inclusion that can be integrated in their social and academic life. The program provides a common experience for all new students while strengthening a sense of belonging from their first days on campus, and it engages students in intentional ways of thinking across disciplines, experiences, and strengths.

This year St. Olaf is inviting all members of our on and off campus family to participate in an All-Community Read of Patel’s bookand we’d love for you to join us.

How can I participate?

  1. Purchase the book – support local bookstores near you
  2. Sign up for a virtual book club discussion (or multiple!)

Join the Director of the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community, Deanna Thompson ‘89 P21, for an introduction to the book and a discussion on Zoom:
Tuesday, July 28 from 5pm-6pm CST
Wednesday, July 29 from 10am-11am CST

Join Oles near you for a virtual book discussion on Zoom:
Midwest, hosted by Katie Maxwell ’17 and Megan Grimes ’19 | Saturday, August 1, 2 pm Central Time
East Coast, hosted by Kelsey Henquinet ’16 | Monday, August 3, 7 pm Eastern Time
Mountain Time, hosted by Robin Woolums P’10, ’13, ’17 and Mitch Rennie ’14 |  Saturday, August 1, 7 p.m. Mountain Time
West Coast, hosted by Corina Rahmig ’02 | Wednesday, August 5 7-8 p.m. Pacific Time

Create your own book club opportunity and share your photos with us!

Reading Guide:
Access an Acts of Faith reading guide

Contact Alumni and Parent Relations