Room in JMU Center is an Interfaith Chapel

February 20, 2007

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch!news&s=1045855934842

Instead of a formal, traditional, free-standing chapel, some of Virginia's colleges have set aside special rooms to be used for prayer and meditation.

In April 2004, James Madison University dedicated a room in its campus center as an interfaith chapel. The simple room offers upholstered chairs, a carpeted floor and for its focal point -- a circular stained-glass piece over an altar table, meant to represent unity and inclusiveness.

At its center, the circular glass has a depiction of a dove surrounded by religious symbols of many faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, folk religions of American Indians and Africans, and an open field that represents "faiths still unknown."

"It's very inclusive," said Jim McConnel, associate vice president for student affairs. "But there are no set regular religious ceremonies."

The room was outfitted by the Class of 1954 because classmates felt it was important to express America's heightened appreciation of family, friends and values.