John Morehead and his team received a 2014 Collaborative Inquiry Team award for their project EVANGELICALS ENGAGING A MULTIFAITH WORLD. The team includes: John W. Morehead (Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, Syracuse, Utah), Sang-Ehil “David” Han (Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, Tennessee), Paul Louis Metzger (Multnomah Biblical Seminary, Portland, Oregon), Jill E. Riley (Navigate, Billings, Montana), Bob Roberts (NorthWood Church, Keller, Texas) and Philip K. Wyman (North Shore Church, Boston, Massachusetts).
LI: Describe the process that led to the idea of Evangelicals Engaging a Multifaith World for a Collaborative Inquiry Team (CIT)?
JM: For many years now I’ve been involved in multi-faith initiatives, from developing relationships and having conversations with those in other religious traditions, to thinking through the issues theologically and in terms of praxis, to forming relationships with other Christians involved in these same efforts. Given the post-Christendom, post-9/11 American cultural context — where more religious adherents from differing religious traditions are making their voices heard in the public square, often accompanied by friction and conflict over religious differences — it seemed like this was an ideal topic for Evangelicals to explore. Our team selected the name “MultiFaith Matters,” which will also be the hashtag for sharing updates, and the URL for a future website. As we pursue our research project we are asking: What are the best ways to live as Christians and to love our multi-faith neighbors? How can we tell the stories of churches and Christians loving their multi-faith neighbors without compromising their Evangelical convictions? These are the things we are exploring and the stories we will be telling.
LI: How did you go about recruiting your team members?
JM: To put together our team I drew upon my relationships in my ministry network, and those colleagues recommended others. The result was a diverse team in terms of gender, geographical location, denominational background, as well as theological perspective.
LI: Tell us about your first meeting of the team, especially the research dynamics created by the mix of pastors and academics.
JM: Our team first convened on November 15, 2014 in Salt Lake City. We quickly discovered common ministry experiences and developed great chemistry among team members. Although there was initial apprehension in bringing pastors and academics together, we discovered a great respect for each other, and an appreciation for the needed synthesis of our differing perspectives in addressing our research topic.
LI: Any advice for other researchers who may be considering applying for a CIT?
JM: I would encourage them to take time to fine-tune their core question and research strategy with the help of a variety of thinkers, and then submit it for consideration. The Louisville Institute has been a real blessing in helping us focus our own collaborative project, and then by providing us with the grant funds to help us pursue our research goals.