University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Session Descriptions

Illinois Interfaith Conference. February 25th and 26th. Multicolor sun in overlapping watercolor brushstrokes.

12th Annual Illinois Interfaith Conference
Februray 25th and 26th, 2022

Friday, February 25th

Friday Forum + Conversation Café: Can You Hear the Women Wailing? Reflections on Faith, Race, Loss, and Radical Hope with Rev. Jennifer Bailey, 12-1pm

From the Southern Freedom Movement to contemporary struggles for civil and human rights, Black women have played an instrumental role in the quest for justice in the United States. Over the past several years, calls to “trust black women” have focused on black women’s civic participation and emphasized the role #blackgirlmagic in “saving democracy”. Yet less attention has been paid to the role of grief, loss, vulnerability as a catalyst for black women’s leadership and community-centered approach to social change. This 45 minute Friday Forum will center the stories and leadership of everyday black women whose names may not be in history books but whose legacies have helped turn the tide of racial justice struggles in the United States. Lunch is provided.

Shabbat Dinner, 6–7pm

As part of Illini Hillel’s Shabbat Across Campus, the Illinois Interfaith Conference will host a Shabbat Dinner for conference attendees. Carly Froomkin Burak from Illini Hillel will talk about Shabbat and the significance of rest across religious traditions. All are invited.

Radical Hope Today: A Talk and Panel Discussion, 7–8pm

Climate change. Political polarization. A global pandemic. In these tumultuous and unrelenting times, it can feel like there is no end in sight to the chaos and pain of the present. Radical hope calls us to consider the realities of lives while embracing our power to transform the conditions before us.  Join Rev. Jen Bailey for a reading from her new book, To My Beloveds: Letters on Faith, Race, Loss, and Radical Hope followed by a panel discussion with community leaders on how we might embody the audacity to hope and birth beautiful new things into being in a world on fire. Panelists from across Champaign-Urbana will participate in a conversation with Rev. Bailey following her talk.

Saturday, February 26th

Collective Care, Healing, and Resilience: Resources for Spiritual and Mental Wellness: A Conversation with Rev. Jen Bailey and Dr. Ira Helderman, 10–11am

How can the rituals and practices of our sacred traditions become positive resources for taking care of our spiritual and mental health? Join Rev. Jen Bailey and Dr. Ira Helderman for an interactive workshop with experiential exercises and engaged discussion on caring for our own and one another’s spiritual and mental health in these times. Participants will walk away with tools and techniques to create and implement their own wellness plan.

Student Panel: Collective Care Through Difficult Times, 11am–12pm

Facilitated by Interfaith In Action, a panel of student leaders will reflect upon the concepts of collective care and spiritual wellness, and how they have survived and thrived through challenging times.

Lunch On Your Own

Participants are invited to grab lunch from the IKE Dining Hall ($12.57 per person, all you care to eat), 57 North Convenience (1st floor SDRP), or travel to one of many nearby restaurants. Additionally, University Housing partners with the Everybody Eats program, offering a free hot meal (soup & rice) to anyone. The Everybody Eats hotbox is located behind the Caffeinator on the 2nd floor and is open from 11am-1pm.  

What Would It Take: Creating an Interfaith-Friendly Community, 1–2:15pm

What would it take for the University of Illinois (and all of our communities) to be welcoming and inclusive of religious, spiritual, and secular diversity? Psychology professor Dr. Nathan Todd and campus educator Ross Wantland invite us to engage together to articulate what a religiously inclusive community can and should look like.

Thank You for Being a Friend: An Imam, a Rabbi and a Pastor Discuss Friendship, Solidarity, and Community, 3–4pm

Rabbi Alan Cook (Sinai Temple Champaign), Imam Ousmane Sawadogo (Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center), and Pastor Michael Crosby (First Mennonite Church) are more than just three incredible religious leaders in our community, they are also colleagues and friends. During this session, Imam Ousmane, Rabbi Alan, and Pastor Michael will engage in an open conversation about the ways they think about the role of relationship and solidarity across faith communities.


Contact Ross Wantland, Director of Curriculum Development and Education, at