This week I'm especially appreciative of a subset of collegiate ministers: those who work calls them into serious, on-going, inter-faith dialogue. To be fully present on campus today already means to be engaged in some sort of inter faith work, but I'm thinking specifically of those whose context or job description highlights that activity.
It's what our students face. The Hindu down the hall is a kind, loving, peace-filled person whose life seems to make sense for him or her. Some of the Christians on the hall may try to convert her, a few may be aware of differences and try to understand them, but almost all will "live and let live."
Inter-faith folks try to move beyond tolerance to a place where each person can celebrate and pursue their own faith in a mutually supportive environment. This almost invariably means that the institution supports and encourages the activities of these collegiate ministers. Most congregations or ecumenical funding groups or para-church organizations would not be as open. They might want to be tolerant (civil) towards other faiths, but there is a hierarchical understanding of other faiths inherent in their self-understanding.
Imagine a campus minister asking a congregation for financial support of the ministry, and highlighting activities and lives changed as a result of the ministry. As part of the ministry activities, said campus minister discusses how the efforts to renovate the prayer space and kitchen have invigorated the Muslim students and they have become better organized and vocal on campus - thanks to the past financial support of that particular congregation. So please give us more money next year.
These Directors of Spiritual Life or Directors of Interfaith Campus Ministries learn from experience that their own particular faith is deepened and enriched by open and honest encounters with those of other faiths. And they are also made acutely aware of how most incoming college students have no knowledge of other traditions, and very little knowledge of their own family's faith.
So blessings on those folks in their important work, and a challenge to the rest of us that we can send students to them who know the rudiments of their own tradition. (And yes, I am advocating for a "No Christian Left Behind" educational assessment. George Bush left behind, not Hal Lindsey.)
2018 Conference - Creating Many Ripples Best Practices in Campus Ministry featuring workshops from the Campus Ministry Theological Exploration of Vocation Initiative* June 8...
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