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Messiah College participates in White House Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge

August 10th, 2011

GRANTHAM, Pa. (Aug. 10, 2011) — On Aug. 3, Messiah College joined representatives from 195 higher education institutions nationwide in Washington D.C. for the launch of the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, an initiative of President Barack Obama to mobilize college students of diverse religious backgrounds for community service.

Messiah College students currently interact with community partners from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, but this initiative will challenge Messiah to be more deliberate about preparing students to interact appropriately with individuals of diverse faith traditions as well, says Susan Hasseler, dean of the School of Business, Education and Social Science and overseer of Messiah’s community service and outreach coordination center, the Agape Center for Service and Learning.

“Messiah College decided to participate in the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge because the initiative aligns very well with our institutional focus on preparing students for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation,” said Hasseler.

To honor the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, Messiah will expand its three already existing campuswide service days—Into the Streets in late August, Martin Luther King Jr. day in January and Service Day in mid-April—by inviting local colleges and universities to participate. In addition, Messiah students will coordinate a regional diversity summit in coordination with other area college students.

“The opportunity to collaborate with people from a wide range of perspectives and life experiences will help our students develop essential skills that are needed to be agents of reconciliation in society,” Hasseler adds. “I believe the term ‘interfaith’ fits this initiative particularly well because it is promoting interaction among people from different faith traditions around specific community needs. The intent is to find common ground in a joint project while remaining grounded in one’s own faith tradition.”

In addition to the White House, the program is sponsored by the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Exemplary projects will be recognized next summer at the White House.

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