Hi!  *Waving.*  My name is Shea Daniels.  Welcome to the Better Together at Ohio University Blog!  This week I’d like to tell you about the White House Interfaith Challenge, mostly because I’m really really excited about it.  Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll be excited about it, too!

The White House Interfaith Challenge is a super-cool initiative that Ohio University is part of.  It’s a service based challenge focused on interfaith cooperation.  Let’s break those sentences down a little bit further, because it seems to me that there’s two really important ideas being communicated, and I want to make sure you end up just as excited about them as I am.

Idea 1: The White House Interfaith Challenge is service based.  Colleges who are part of the challenge, like Ohio University in Athens, choose two issues to focus that service around, one domestic and one international.  Here at Ohio University we’ve chosen Domestic Poverty and Food Insecurity (this is what I’m working on) as well as International Water Security (initiative run by Rachel Hyden).  Students and community members are banning together to serve hot, yummy, healthy free meals twice a week (domestic poverty / food insecurity) while raising money to build at least one well in Africa (international water security).  And we’re having a blast!

Idea 2: This is an Interfaith challenge.  What does Interfaith mean?  Semantically, let’s visit our good friend Webster.  According to Webster, Interfaith means “involving persons of different religious faiths.”  This is a really good definition but I would like to challenge Mr. Webster on one point…Interfaith work is for folks of all and no faith traditions, so folks who are atheists, agnostic, or don’t know what they are, are as welcome as folks who are Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, or Wiccan.  Lots of people involved in our Interfaith challenge don’t claim any religious tradition.  Lots of people involved in our Interfaith challenge are devout followers of a religion.  And we’re all working together, because that’s the point.  Even if we don’t agree on everything we agree it is more productive to build a well in Africa than to argue about religious differences.

So, that’s the White House Interfaith Service Challenge in a nutshell.  Interested in getting involved?  Yay!  Email  Rachel at rh148407@ohio.edu for more informational about the International Water Security initiative, or if you want to join our Steering Committee.  If you’re interested in Domestic Poverty and Food Insecurity you can email me, Shea, at ss298506@ohio.edu, or just show up at UCM’s Free Meals Program (Thursday 5:30, Saturday 1PM). 

So, once again, I’m Shea.  *Waving.*  Welcome to Better Together at Ohio University’s blog.  Stay tuned in coming weeks for all kinds of interesting posts from all kinds of people.  We’ll be talking about Interfaith work, about the service we’re doing, and about what it means to us.  Because we’re pretty sure that we’re better together than we are divided, and we’re pretty sure we can positively impact the world through the service we’re doing.

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