Interfaith leader Eboo Patel to virtually visit St. Olaf for series of events
Author, advocate, and interfaith leader Eboo Patel will visit St. Olaf College virtually October 29-30 for a broad series of discussions with campus leaders and students.
His visit, hosted by the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community, will include class visits, roundtable discussions with students, and a workshop for faculty and staff. It will also include a chapel talk at 11 a.m. on October 29 and a virtual keynote address at 7 p.m. that evening titled “Racial Justice, Interfaith Cooperation, and the Common Good on Campus and Beyond” (register for the keynote address here). All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
A former member of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council, Patel is the founder of Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit working toward an America where people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions can bridge differences and find common values to build a shared life together.
Patel’s interfaith work models what the Lutheran Center would like to continue to strive for at St. Olaf, says Lutheran Center Director Deanna Thompson ’89, the Martin E. Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Academy. She notes that Patel — who has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm for more than 15 years — views Lutheran-identified schools like St. Olaf as having distinct strengths and advantages to do interfaith work particularly well.
“St. Olaf being ‘nourished by Lutheran tradition’ (part of our mission statement) is to understand that being grounded in Lutheran values of graciousness, inclusivity, and inquiry leads us to be committed to fostering an environment where religious commitments of all are valued, nurtured, and supported,” Thompson says.
St. Olaf being ‘nourished by Lutheran tradition’ (part of our mission statement) is to understand that being grounded in Lutheran values of graciousness, inclusivity, and inquiry leads us to be committed to fostering an environment where religious commitments of all are valued, nurtured, and supported.Lutheran Center Director Deanna Thompson ’89
Patel is the author of several books, including Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer, and Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise.
His book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, was this year’s All-Community Read at St. Olaf as well as the 2020 Common Read. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni who took part in the event learned about his own struggles to be accepted and his vision of commitment to the common good connecting us all.
Both current students and alumni participated, forming book groups to discuss. There were also college-wide events and opportunities for students to lead discussions with the help of mentorship from faculty and staff. Many of the issues broached by Patel resonated with readers, especially in the midst of growing awareness of racial division. The upcoming visit — discussing many of those same inequities — likewise promises to be particularly salient.
Patel’s visit to St. Olaf is organized by the Lutheran Center and sponsored by a To Include is To Excel grant funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.