Campus Interfaith reaches out to students on faith

Caitlin Czeh

I love to celebrate faith. I love to celebrate faiths of all kinds. And on our campus we have more than 30 different faith traditions, denominations, and spiritualities represented. So how do we celebrate the diversity of faiths that we have on campus? Through Campus Interfaith!

What is Campus Interfaith?  It is a place where students of religious traditions, denominations, and spiritualities can come together to share their faith and experiences. It is a place where we can come together to learn about faiths that are different from our own. Throughout this year, there has been a Lunch & Learn series offered, entitled, “Understanding Faith”, in which clergy, elders, or students have come to campus to talk about their faith and answer any questions that students, faculty or staff may present. There are two more sessions planned for April, and the series will continue next fall.

While many students are already connected to and active within a faith, there are many who are not and may be searching. Campus Interfaith is a place where one can come to search; to help those students who may be searching, we partner with the United Campus Ministries of Lycoming College, each January for their SEARCH retreat. SEARCH is a Christian based retreat that is about your life as you look at some of your conflicts, struggles and even some of that “baggage” that you can’t leave behind.  You will form a community as you share your experience with those on the retreat and then the thousands that have gone before you.  Finally, it is about LOVE…a love of neighbor, a love of self, and most importantly, God’s love for each of us.  It is my hope to build a SEARCH community here on campus, so that in the future we can hold our own SEARCH retreat.

For those students who are already connected to a faith tradition, I do my best to help them continue their faith journey while on campus. Many students have gotten connected to local Houses of Worship; they attend worship services or liturgy, they sing in their choirs or run the music ministry, and participate in various service projects and social events. For those students who are not connected to a faith tradition or who are looking for a specific house of worship, Campus Interfaith is here to help them make that connection. I work with the all of the local clergy and we have a great rapport, all are more than happy to welcome students into their congregations.

One of the main teachings or ideas that is common across faith traditions, denominations, and spiritualities is the idea: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” In Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”  In Baha’i: “Blessed are those who prefer others before themselves.” In Christianity, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” In Islam: “No one is a believer until you desire for another that which you desire for yourself.”  Campus Interfaith has several ways that students can get involved in caring for our neighbors- the coat drive each November, Hunger and Homelessness awareness week activities, the Holiday Giving Tree and various food and clothing drives. Campus Interfaith also partners frequently with the Office of Civic Engagement for service projects and events such as the Alternative Break Program (AFB & ASB) and Relay for Life.

Campus Interfaith is here to be an extension of your faith. We are here to help, support, and explore with you new ideas, living experiences, choices, and horizons; and to help you live up to your fullest potential. We are here to walk with you on your worst days, and your best days, and all the days in between.