Introducing the New RRD Program at State of Formation

Dear State of Formation,

I am very pleased to announce that we as a national and international community are continuing to grow and unfold, as we enter the third year of State of Formation! This year we are excited about a new program that seeks out Regional Recruiting Directors (RRDs) to help discover and connect new Contributing Scholars to State of Formation and assist in ushering in more face-to-face encounters between these emerging leaders. As the Associate Director of this organization, I have the pleasure to facilitate their work and interact with these impressive leaders. However, it would be selfish for me not to share a little bit about some of these newly named RRDs:

Rose Aslan is a student at the University of North Carolina and very excited to be an RRD in her area. She writes, “I am currently involved in the interfaith community in Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas, and am committed to educating Americans about Islam. My biggest passion is to travel, which is where I have received most of my education: I live to travel and travel to live. I look forward to recruiting new members to SoF as well as help to develop a local group of scholars from diverse faith traditions in the Triangle in North Carolina.”

We have Regional Recruiting Directors throughout the United States. For example, Funlayo Wood of Harvard University writes, “Attending the 2nd annual SoF conference [this past May] was enlightening and encouraging and reminded me that interfaith dialogue has a lot of promise for bringing people together in love and understanding. The potential for positive engagement is even greater when we’re able to get more scholars and practitioners from a variety of racial, cultural, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds talking to one another. As a priestess and a scholar of an underrepresented tradition, I’m eager to help bring more underrepresented groups and traditions into the dialogue.”

Kari Aanestad has been involved in State of Formation from very early on and shares, “I often describe State of Formation to new friends as a community that helped me not only survive but also flourish during my Master of Divinity studies, and I am so thrilled to be able to be a part of a more intentional recruiting initiative that invites others to participate in such a wonderful opportunity. I am excited to work on cultivating stronger relationships amongst the many different seminaries and universities in the Twin Cities area as well as branching out to the interfaith networks, churches, and religious groups that are currently involved in interfaith work, service, and leadership.”

Ted Dedon and Andrew Schwartz are working in the NYC area and are really excited about taking NYC State of Formation. Students of Union Theological Seminary, they have already been getting people excited about the recruitment by storm. N- Dialogue is an essential component to progress. Both strongly value the power of dialogue in building relationships of sincerity and collaboration. Ted writes, “In New York City we will be able to draw a rich and diverse set of voices that will hopefully engage not only religious and interfaith culture, but just what it means to be a product of cultural environment at all.  People from all over think and do all sorts of interesting things.  What better place is there than the internet for us to share all that we Love about the experience we are having?”

Andrew “Drew” Love studies and lives in the Dallas area at Perkins School of Theology and wants to debunk any notion that interfaith work cannot flourish in Texas. “There are a large number of individuals and organizations in Dallas committed to the interfaith cause. Many of these voices simply need a consistent platform to blossom. As an RRD, I will have the opportunity to offer this platform to these individuals who share my passion and commitment to the interfaith movement.” Drew is also glad that he can help add to a sometimes discouraged conservative voice in the interfaith movement. He believes that “the RRD role presents an opportunity to bring out those voices from the conservative branches of the various traditions that have not been given a fair opportunity to participate in the interfaith movement simply because they represented a segment of their tradition that many have assumed will not participate in the interfaith discussion. Needless to say, it is going to be an exciting time and I hope to involve many others in the wonderful mission of State of Formation.”

Bhikshuni Trinlae is excited to be an RRD this year especially because she hopes to attract “voices from under-represented and minority spiritualtraditions such as my own (Buddhist), and therefore look forward to bringing them forward in the respectful, dignified, and scholarly home of State of Formation.” She believes that Southern California is primed for transformation engagement through these networks of Contributing Scholars. She concludes, “As we’ve observed, interreligious ignorance and the violent acts it may fuel can become a matter of life and death for innocent people. Thus our work to build interfaith coalitions for interreligious literacy and respect is serious business and must not be delayed.”

Finally, we are excited to have Tiffany Buchanan represent the greater Chicago area as an RRD. Tiffany argues that “Society is in need more than ever for continued critical analysis of its ethical state. I am compelled with passion to bring others to State of Formation who want to contribute to the work of theological dialog.  My views align with Lilla Watson’s, ‘If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.  But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.’”

State of Formation is very lucky to have these fine leaders and a few others not mentioned here commit to being RRDs this year. However, we are also aware that these eight religious leaders symbolize the rich diversity and potential for continued growth for both this organization in the coming year, as well as for each of our journeys of religious and/or ethical transformation.

With Peace and Blessings to All,

Nic Cable

Associate Director of State of Formation

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