JBU Hosts Diversity Symposium on Interreligious Engagement and Relations

SILOAM SPRINGS, Arkansas (Feb. 19, 2019) – John Brown University’s Diversity Committee will host a symposium on diversity to discuss how Evangelical Christians can interact with people from other religions on Thursday, Feb. 28, and Friday, March 1, in JBU’s Simmons Great Hall.

The symposium will feature prominent religious and community leaders as speakers, including Dr. Gina Zurlo, associate director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; Imam Abdellah Essalki, Imam of the Islamic Center of Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville; Raiyan Syed, head of Public Relations at the Islamic Center of Northwest Arkansas; and Swamiji Sri Venugopala Gattu ji, head priest of the Hindu Association of Northwest Arkansas in Bentonville.

“We are excited for this year’s diversity symposium. Since the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationalities Act, our nation has become significantly more religiously diverse,” Dr. Marquita Smith, JBU coordinator for diversity relations, said.  “As a Christian university, we are uniquely positioned to help promote interreligious relations and interfaith dialogue — both foster mutual understanding and learning. While we may differ on our tenets of faith, extending hospitality and respect are important as we live and do community together.” 

The first session of the symposium will begin on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. with opening remarks from JBU President Dr. Chip Pollard. Dr. Zurlo will then lead a conversation titled “Evangelicals at the Religious Roundtable: Interreligious Engagement at Home and Around the World.”

Friday’s sessions, titled “Loving Our Neighbor: Exploring Religious Diversity in our Community,” will begin with a welcome from Dr. Dave Vila, JBU professor of Biblical Studies, at 9 a.m. and will conclude at 11 a.m. The JBU Diversity Committee welcomes everyone in the community to come learn about diversity and its application within our faith communities.

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Arkansas’ top-ranked regional university (U.S. News Best Colleges, 2019), JBU enrolls more than 2,100 students from 38 states and 53 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 40 majors, with top programs including engineering, nursing, family and human services, biology, graphic design and construction management. 


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