2017-2018 – Jay Phillips Center News
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2017-2018, News

Five Observations – Encountering the Dakota Worldview

Brittany Stojsavljevic March 5, 2018

“We stand together and bring that hope, that together we can bring beautiful diversity to the rest of the sick world and give them a model of standing together and working cooperation.”

“We relied on oral tradition, and that brings me here today,” Bob Klanderud said to the standing-room-only crowd on the St. Thomas campus as he shared stories of culture, belief and modern-day realities of Dakota and Lakota people, particularly in Minnesota. To an audience that included undergraduates, community members and seminarians, Klanderud made what can seem to be a simple request: to listen.


2017-2018, News

St. Thomas to Host Undergraduate Conference on Interfaith Storytelling

Jordan Osterman ’11 | January 26, 2018 | Current Students, Faith, For Students, Notices, Our Community

Undergraduate students from around the Midwest will gather at St. Thomas Feb. 23-24 for an interfaith conference, “Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy: Engaging the Diverse, the Devout, and the ‘Nones.’”

St. Thomas’ Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center, and Office for Spirituality have teamed up with Augsburg University and Bethel University to establish the event.

“The idea is to promote interfaith leadership,” said Hans Gustafson, Jay Phillips Center director. “Another part of the goal is for students to reflect on their own stories and to be able to begin to think about their own story, where they’ve been, where they are now and where they’re going to go.”

A full slate on Saturday will feature several breakout sessions and a keynote from Chris Stedman, a noted atheist, about how interfaith stories can change the world. Friday includes a Dakota sacred sites tour with Healing Minnesota Stories.

Thanks to the support of Undergraduate Student Government, the cost for the conference for St. Thomas students is $5, which covers meals throughout the day on Saturday. The cost for non-St. Thomas undergraduates is $10.

The three universities received a grant to create the event from the Interfaith Youth Core. Registration and more details on the event are available here.

2017-2018, News

Author of Faitheist to Speak on Interfaith and Secular Humanism

St. Thomas Newsroom | 10 November 2017 12:59 PM

Chris Stedman, author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, will speak on “Encountering Secular Humanism” on Nov. 16 at noon in the Anderson Student Center, Iversen Hearth Room.

The Star Tribune reports that Stedman’s story “calling for civil discourse between atheists and the religious couldn’t come at a better time,” and Christian Century magazine declares that Stedman’s “story needs to be heard and engaged.” Read more…

2017-2018, News

UST Receives Grant to Host Student Interfaith Leadership Conference

09 October 2017 2:52 PM

The University of St. Thomas, in collaboration with Augsburg University and Bethel University, received a grant from the Interfaith Youth Core to hold the upcoming conference Interfaith Storytelling for a Vibrant Democracy: Engaging the Diverse, the Devout, and the “Nones” on February 23-24 at UST.

The conference will provide training in, and a forum for, storytelling and story- listening across differences in core commitments. Students from all perspectives and institutions are invited to attend and to refine their skills in dialogue on their campuses and in their wider communities.

The grant was written and submitted by Tanden Brekke (Bethel), Sarah Farnes (St. Thomas), Hans Gustafson (St. Thomas), Marion Larson (Bethel) Dominic Longo (St. Thomas), Matt Maruggi (Augsburg), Marta Pereira Vindas (St. Thomas), Amy Poppinga (Bethel), Sara Shady (Bethel), and Martha Stortz (Augsburg).

UST sponsoring offices include the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, the Muslim Christian Dialogue Center, and the Office for Spirituality

2017-2018, News

Dr. Harold Kasimow donates personal library in honor of Dr. John Merkle

27 September 2017 1:58 PM

Dr. Harold Kasimow, currently professor emeritus and formerly the George A. Drake Professor of Religious Studies at Grinnell College (Iowa) kindly donated over 500 books from his personal library to the Jay Phillips Center in honor of Dr. John Merkle. These magnificent books fit perfectly the work of the center and will be put to good use by students, professors, and friends of the center.

Dr. Harold Kasimow, a prominent scholar of world religions, friend to the Jay Phillips Center, and speaker at the Center’s events in past, has been a leading contributor to interfaith understanding for more than four decades. At Grinnell College, he taught courses on Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and interfaith dialogue. His scholarly articles have been published in Belgium, China, England, India, Japan, Poland and the United States. His books include The Search Will Make You Free: A Jewish Dialogue with World Religions; Beside Still Waters: Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha; and John Paul II and Interreligious Dialogue.

Dr. John C. Merkle is the director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John’s University. Dr. Merkle also served as the director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas from 2009-2017 when the two centers functioned as one joint entity between the two universities (in July of 2017, the center was split into two). Prior to serving as the director, he served as an associate director of the center for thirteen years. Dr. Merkle is also a professor in the department of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, where he has been teaching since 1977. He earned his Ph.D. in religious studies, specializing in philosophical theology, at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. Deeply involved in Christian-Jewish dialogue for more than three decades, he has been chair of the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations, a national organization of Christian scholars engaged in the study of Judaism and of Christianity in relation to Judaism, and a co-editor of Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, the electronic journal of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations. A former resident scholar of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, he has given hundreds of public lectures, especially having to do with Jewish theology and with Christian faith in relation to Judaism, and he received the 1994 Temple Israel [Minneapolis] Interreligious Award. He has written and edited four books, including Faith Transformed: Christian Encounters with Jews and Judaism (2003) and Approaching God: The Way of Abraham Joshua Heschel (2009), both published by Liturgical Press, and has contributed chapters to a number of other books. He also has dozens of articles and reviews published in journals and encyclopedias in Europe, Latin America, and North America.

2017-2018, News

Muslim Scholar to Speak on God and Religious Diversity

St. Thomas Newsroom | 22 September 2017 11:47 AM

Irfan A. Omar, associate professor of theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, will present “The Oneness of God and the Diversity of Religions: A Muslim Perspective” on Monday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Minnesota, 1401 Gardena Ave. NE, in Fridley. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas. Read more…

2017-2018, News

Religions and Cultures of South Asia

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 5-7pm | Centers for Interreligious Understanding (2057 Portland Ave)

Join us for a fall open house at the Centers for Interreligious Understanding to celebrate and learn about the religions and cultures of South Asia. Drop by for live music, good food, and the opportunity to socialize with students, staff, and faculty from UST. Meet some of our distinguished guests and ask them questions about their South Asian traditions. This event is coordinated and sponsored by the Diversity Activities Board (DAB), the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, and the Muslim Christian Dialogue Center. Open to all UST students, staff, and faculty.

2017-2018, News

Jay Phillips Center hosts panel for international journalists on “Interfaith Understanding”

September 18, 2017

On Sept 15, 2017, the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas hosted a private panel of local faith and interfaith leaders who spoke on “Instilling Faith and Interfaith Understanding.” The event was organized and sponsored by the East-West Center, an independent public non-profit organization, with headquarters in Honolulu and Washington, D.C., that “promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.”

The panel audience was made up of 12 senior international journalists from Australia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Tunisia, and the United States. These journalists make up a cohort for the East-West Center’s 2017 Senior Journalists Seminar taking place September 6 – 29, 2017 with travel to Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Manila and Cotabato City, Philippines, and Rabat, Morocco. The Senior Journalists Seminar is an immersive 21-day dialogue, study, and travel program intended to enhance media coverage and elevate the public debate regarding identity and religion’s role in and resulting impact on the public sphere, specifically as it concerns U.S. relations with Muslim majority regions.

While in Minneapolis, the group met with religious and interfaith leaders, artists, public officials, members of the media, and law enforcement to experientially explore America’s multicultural and multi-religious society, the experiences of religious communities, interfaith initiatives, and how cultural and religious identity, experience, and diversity is expressed in the visual, performing, and media arts. Additionally, the journalists examine the political, military, and cultural engagement of American Muslims.

This panel, titled “Instilling Faith and Interfaith Understanding,” addressed the religious landscape of Minnesota and Minneapolis and how different religious communities in the area communicate and partner to educate the public, political leaders, and law enforcement agencies about religious tolerance. The four panelists were Rev. Dr. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of Minnesota Council of Churches, Dr. Hans Gustafson, Director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas and adjunct professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, Randi Ilyse Roth, Executive Director of Interfaith Action of St. Paul, and Imam Dr. Tamim Saidi, Imam at Northwest Islamic Community Center and board member of Islamic Resource Group.