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The Seventh Annual Interfaith Youth Forum

On Sunday March 13, 2011 the day could not have been any more beautiful! The Shinnyo-en Buddhist Temple in Yorba Linda had their doors open, welcoming high school age teens from all over Orange County for the Seventh Annual Interfaith Youth Forum. The purpose of the Interfaith Youth Forum is to bring together young people form diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds, and to engage them in dialogue. This year the three open-ended dialogue questions were centered on the environment:

1. What do your sacred scriptures and religious teachings say about the relationship between humanity and the environment?

2. In your faith tradition, what if any, responsibility or actions does that relationship require from you?

3. In your opinion, how can you use your connection between your religion and the environment to make a difference in the world?

The Interfaith Youth Forum is sponsored by the Interfaith Youth Council of Orange County. Most important for this forum, is that the dialogue questions were made up by the Council’s Youth Leadership Board. The teens from the Leadership Board were in charge of the registration table; took part as facilitators during the dialogue sessions, and at the end of the program, gave thanks to our gracious host and all the members of Shinnyo-en that made us feel so welcomed. The afternoon began with over 105 teens and 30 adult facilitators from eleven different faith traditions; meeting in the temple’s prayer hall to hear a brief presentation given by Reverend Nichelle Blanco. Her presentation included an explanation of Shinnyo-en Buddhism, their founders, origin and history. The students were then led to the “Harmony Room” for the dialogue sessions. Each student was assigned a table, along with seven other teens and one facilitator. Special attention was given to each table assignment to ensure that there was as much diversity as possible. Many students were nervous sitting next to a new person from a different culture and religion, but with the help of a fun ice breaker, these teens quickly discovered through laughter and creativity that bonds of friendship were being built. In addition to exposing teens to differing points of view; another one of the goals of the Interfaith Youth Forum is to promote friendship, support, respect and good will. By participating in the Interfaith Youth Forum, these teens are making their own difference in the world taking the day’s memories and experiences with them on into college, the workplace and into their family lives. The Interfaith Youth Forum is a platform from which young adults can learn and grow.

If you would like to know more about Then Interfaith Youth Council of Orange County, Please click below!