First Annual Gathering of College Multi-Faith Councils Convenes at Princeton University
On February 17, 2005, over 90 students representing over 30 colleges and universities from across the country convened on Princeton University’s campus for the first annual national gathering of college multi-faith councils, “Coming Together: A Venture across Religious Boundaries.”
Planned and led by students, “Coming Together” was created as a resource for students across the country to learn from one another about interfaith councils. Some students arrived with the intention of starting an interfaith council on their campus while others came to share what they had learned from pre-existing college councils. Classes such as “Multi-Faith Councils 101” and “The Challenges of Creating Sacred Spaces in the University Setting” were offered for students to attend. Various discussion groups and brainstorming sessions were also available. In addition, students received an opening address from Steve Waldman, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Beliefnet.com.
Rabia Ali, conference organizer, said, “‘Coming Together’ was an effort to bring together young people who have been involved in interfaith work, so that they could share their experiences and ideas with each other.” Much of the conference was spent around tables planning mission statements and programming ideas. However, one of the great assets of the conference was the opportunity for students to participate in an array of religious activities. In equal proportion to the many different religious traditions represented by students, “Coming Together” hosted Buddhist, Catholic, Baha’i, Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish services of worship, prayer, and meditation.
Paul Raushenbush, Associate Dean of Religious Life at Princeton, noted beforehand that their “hope is that there’ll be a loose federation of interfaith councils.” In part, the success of “Coming Together” is seen in its continuation; next year Johns-Hopkins University will host the conference, and the following two years, the University of Southern California, and Penn State will host respectively. There are also plans to form a national steering committee, hopes for an inter-collegiate interfaith journal, and Waldman has offered a message board on Beliefnet for the conference.
Students identified themselves as Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, Amish, Muslim, Unificationist, Baha’i, Progressive Protestant, Spiritual, Seeker, Unitarian Universalist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Buddhist, Druid, Hindu, Sikh, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Methodist, Non-denominational, Episcopal and Buddhist, Siddha Yoga, and Pagan/Wiccan.
Source: Chan, Belda. “‘Coming Together’ Sparks Interfaith Dialogue on Campus, DAILYPRINCETONIAN.COM, http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2005/02/18/news/12065.shtml?type=printable, 14 September 2005. [Editor’s note 2016: now available at http://dailyprincetonian.com/news/2005/02/coming-together-sparks-interfaith-dialogue-on-campus/.]