The Iowa Interfaith Exchange is a partnership of interfaith organizations in working in the greater Des Moines area. The partnership includes The Comparison Project at Drake University, CultureALL, the Des Moines Area Religious Council, and the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa.
The Comparison Project at Drake University
The Comparison Project seeks to enrich impoverished understandings of religious diversity and to strengthen enfeebled practices of interfaith engagement.
The Comparison Project practices “global philosophy of religion” in the “local Des Moines community.” This involves initiatives in three core areas for three basic constituencies. On Drake’s campus, we provide curricular and extracurricular opportunities in the understanding of lived religion and the cultivation of interfaith literacy and leadership. In the metro Des Moines area, we offer online resources about and in-person engagement of local religious diversity. For the general public “beyond” (especially the academy), we publish photo-narratives about the diverse, lived religions of the world, as well as scholarly volumes in comparative philosophy of religion.
Dr. Timothy Knepper, Director
A society that is powerful enough to grow and prosper needs to value every culture. The mission of CultureALL is to lead communities in valuing our culturally rich diversity. CultureALL brings people together from diverse backgrounds to talk, listen, learn, and collaborate so everyone has a chance to participate in building a better community. Diversity shouldn’t divide us – it makes us stronger.
Our approach is unique:
- We deploy a vast network of trained ambassadors from 65+ cultures
- We create authentic, personal interactions that engage people in practicing inclusive behaviors
- We bring people together intentionally to build communities that are open to new ideas & ways of thinking
We currently offer 5 programs and related services:
- Ambassador Workshops – Cross-cultural interactions that make the unfamiliar fun to explore
- Zoom in on Culture – Photographing and writing about who we are and where we come from reveal the ways culture influences our lives
- Open Book – A unique storytelling format where BOOKs are people. They inspire dialogue, creating emotional connections between people who may have very different life experiences.
- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – Events that showcase the cultures represented in the community and around the world with presentations by CultureALL-trained Ambassadors. The event brings friends and strangers together for culture, cuisine, and the start of a conversation about building better community where differences are valued and everyone feels welcome.
- The CultureALL Integration Process – A process that reveals your organization’s blind spots when working in diverse and complex environment. Data and facilitated discussions give you clear sight forward and boost your ability to achieve your goals.
Sherry Gupta, Executive Director
Des Moines Area Religious Council
The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) is an interfaith organization with a core membership of nearly 130 congregations from five faith traditions working together to meet basic human needs for the greater Des Moines community.
The DMARC Food Pantry Network consists of 14 partner pantry sites, 28 Mobile Food Pantry locations, five Refuel Station stops, two food warehouses, and numerous community partners. The DMARC Food Pantry Network is committed to providing healthy food options and fresh produce to the people we assist. Once per calendar month, people can select a three-day supply of food from any one of our partner food pantries, and AnyTime Items are available whenever our partner pantries are open. Last year, DMARC assisted more than 51,000 unique individuals living with food insecurity in Greater Des Moines.
DMARC could never do the work of feeding so many people without the partnership of many, diverse faith communities. Nearly 200 faith communities from across the religious spectrum support DMARC with cash support, donations of food, and service. Because we can do so much more together than we can on our own, DMARC has a commitment to helping our faith communities learn about one another and build relationships.
Rev. Sarah Trone Garriott, Coordinator of Interfaith Engagement
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is Iowa’s only statewide, non-partisan progressive voice for people of faith and no faith protecting religious freedom, ensuring religion is not misused to discriminate, championing individual rights, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism.
We believe it is imperative that, in a healthy democracy, respect is shown for the religious freedom and beliefs of every person and that this is best promoted by maintaining a healthy separation between church and state.
Our beliefs intersect with many issues of civic life and policy including support of separation of church and state, public education, marriage equality, judicial independence, and comprehensive immigration reform.
Interfaith Alliance hosts a monthly gathering – Crossroads. It’s an opportunity to learn, to participate in civil dialogue, and to discuss issues at the crossroads of religion and politics. It’s held every third Friday of the month at Plymouth Congregation.
Connie Ryan, Executive Director
Bridget Fagan-Reidburn, Director of Development and Community Engagement