Inaugural Interfaith Tampa Bay Youth Summit

On Saturday, September 30th, the Abrahamic Reunion attended the first Interfaith Youth Summit put on by Interfaith Tampa Bay. The event was held at the Church of Scientology Visitor Center in St. Petersburg. At the event, area youths were recognized for their service and commitment to the interfaith movement with an award and gift basket. The youth reflected the values of non-violence, social justice, interfaith dialogue, and environmentalism.

Amber Skjelset

Amber Skjelset, the Center Manager, began by giving background on the Church of Scientology’s belief in the importance of respecting other religious beliefs. “We are honored to support and work with other churches to encourage youth to be active in their communities,” she said. Jan

Joran Oppelt

Magray, the Coordinator of the Youth Outreach Committee for Interfaith Tampa Bay, spoke about this inaugural youth summit and the work that went into it. She recognized and thanked the committee members who helped make it happen.

The main speaker was Joran Oppelt, the President of Interfaith Tampa Bay. He spoke about the importance of youth in the interfaith movement. He described a study Harvard Divinity School, which found that the six traits  of religious and secular communities are: Community, Personal Transformation, Social Transformation, Purpose Finding, Creativity, and Accountability. (For more information on this study, click here)

Next, the interfaith youth leaders were introduced by their faith communities and were recognized for their work in interfaith cooperation. A young man from the Scientology community was nominated and shared how he had volunteered over 100hrs in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Rev. Chris Miller introduced Katie Emmons on behalf of the Abrahamic Reunion. She spoke about her current efforts to bring the Abrahamic Reunion and its message to college campuses through the AR’s Campus Peacemakers initiative that she is helping focalize. After that, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra introduced his daughter Zeze Manasra, who spoke about her experiences in Israel and the interfaith encounters she participated in there with her father and the Abrahamic Reunion, and how she now has friends of all faiths in Israel.

Win Thompkins closed the event by singing “What If,” a song about unity.

See the full Flickr album here) for more photos.

Katie Emmons

Zeze Manasra