Despite Minnesota’s reputation as the Great White North and its Scandinavian heritage, the past 40 years has seen a seismic shift in population. Joining long-established African American, Native American and Jewish communities are Liberians, Somali, Hmong and Mexican, to name just a few newer immigrant groups in the area. We are a nation of immigrants, and we continue to be.
The World is on Our Doorstep
School districts, hospitals and faith groups have had to re-tool familiar strategies in response to new cultural customs, religious differences and a myriad of languages taking root in our region. It will take well-equipped leaders to guide an evolving community to cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.
Engaging in a variety of contexts with our neighbors promotes personal transformation and confident leadership. Interfaith and Intercultural Initiatives works to provide every student graduating from United with literacy in multiple religious and cultural traditions. In addition to a rigorous academic grounding, you’ll have the opportunity to move outside the classroom for meaningful encounters with others in the community, turning strangers into partners.
Delivering opportunities for dialogue
United is committed to growing as a center for interfaith and intercultural encounters and understanding. Opening our doors and reaching out to partner communities, we invite the challenges that come with differences. The purpose of Interfaith and Intercultural Initiatives is to promote genuine dialogue, bold partnerships and a culture of creativity and courageous action in service to a thriving pluralistic society.
Director - Gail Anderson
Prior to her position at United, Gail worked at the Minnesota Council of Churches, where she directed Interfaith and Ecumenical programming. She also co-chaired the Muslim Christian dialogue with the Islamic Center of Minnesota and co-facilitated the Twin Cities Interfaith Network. She is a frequent speaker and panelist on interfaith programs and a 2009 recipient of a Building Bridges award from the Islamic Resource Group in Minnesota. An alum of United, Gail earned her Master of Arts in Religion and Theology from the seminary in 2005.
Professor - Eleazar S. Fernandez
An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Eleazar is professor of constructive theology at United and president of Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Eleazar earned his M.Div. from Union, his Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Burning Center, Porous Borders: The Church in a Globalized World and Reimagining the Human: Theological Anthropology in Response to Systemic Evil.