The former member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships is also the founder of Interfaith Youth Core, inspired by his own identity as an American Muslim.
By Abby Petersen
Eboo Patel is a Rhodes Scholar, an Oxford University alumnus and has worked in the White House. But this Monday, he’ll be stepping foot in Benson Great Hall to speak to the Bethel audience about interfaith dialogue.
Patel was brought to Bethel by the Convocation Committee, which is composed of faculty and campus ministries staff and serves as a facilitator for convocations, or assemblies, that engage the Bethel community with speakers from other faith traditions. This year’s convocation theme is “Fear-Courage-Change.”
“Where chapel is primarily about worship, and, of course, works from an entirely Christian standpoint, convocation is about bringing in speakers that have the expertise to speak to matters that are important to the whole community, regardless of faith tradition,” committee chair and English professor Mark Bruce said.
Patel isn’t entirely new to Bethel. He wrote the foreword to “From Bubble to Bridge: Educating Christians for a Multifaith World,” a book written by Bethel professors Marion Larson and Sara Shady.
Interfaith dialogue is a topic Patel is very familiar with. He founded a nonprofit, Interfaith Youth Core, meant to connect young people in ways that promote interfaith cooperation. He has authored three books and coauthored or contributed to several more, all of which speak to his experience as an American Muslim and what interfaith cooperation should look like.
Although Patel is speaking at 10:15 on a Monday morning, he is a convocation speaker, not a chapel speaker. He is also not the first non-Christian convocation speaker.
His Muslim faith and perspective are exactly why people should attend Monday’s convocation, according to Larson and Shady.
“Eboo is the one of the most engaging and powerful speakers in the 21st century,” Shady told The Clarion. “He is an incredible storyteller. He is always inspiring and thought-provoking. You won’t be disappointed.”