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American Interfaith Youth Summit Inspires Unity, Service

NEVADA – A sum of 80 teenagers from over ten different faiths including Muslim American youth concluded their activities at the ‘Voices for Change’ Interfaith Youth Summit which was organized by Nevada Interfaith Association since mid-November, ThisisReno reported on December 1.

“The interfaith youth summit paved the way to establish our future diverse leaders. It was eye-opening to most of them. They aren’t aware of the challenges facing our community and the choices they should make to start facing them,” expressed Sherif Elfass, Northern Nevada Muslim Community president.

The event started on November 17 at Joe Crowley Student Union building in the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) in collaboration with the university’s Student Life Center.

One of the attendees said: “I learned that more things bring religions together than separate them. It was great because I talked to many different kids and learned there are all different ways to solve problems.”

Michele Gehr, one of the panel’s non-profit leaders appreciated the youth’s service focus by saying: “It’s encouraging to see young people come together and seek solutions to improve our community.”

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“They asked the tough questions [and] clearly want to create a better world and I believe they have the power to make a change and motivate their classmates, families, and educators to do more,” she continued.

The objectives of the Interfaith Association were for the youth to increase leadership skills, to be inspired to acts of service and to experience unity and cooperation in a time of divisiveness.

Talking about the idea behind this summit, Pat Meidell, president of the Nevada Interfaith Association, explained that: “The idea came from reading the book by Seboo Patel, ACTS OF FAITH. I felt strongly that there was a need to give voice to some hard topics facing our youth and to give them a voice for making a change in our community by exposing them to opportunities to serve either as individuals or as a new group of friends.”

“While planning the event, my own faith was strengthened as I earnestly asked in prayer for inspiration, guidance, and assistance to accomplish the goals and objectives. I received answers to my prayers in very direct and wondrous to my ways, and I was blessed by having some very spiritually attuned women work with me to help make the event a success,” he concluded.

According to Pew Forum’s 2010 report on Religion & Public Life, Muslims represent no more than 0.1% of Nevada state’s total population which numbers about three million people in 2017.