About Campus Chaplaincy for a Multifaith World

Photo of campus chaplains involved in interfaith dialog

In November, 2016, the Henry Luce Foundation announced that the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College would receive one of the six inaugural grants from the Luce Fund for Theological Education to support an innovative program — Campus Chaplaincy for a Multifaith World.

The program is an outgrowth of RRC’s work in 2013-2016 to create a new model for multifaith encounter Cultivating Character: A Conversation across Communities. In a series of retreats with veteran and emerging religious leaders, we explored how sharing spiritual practices for the cultivation of character can be a rich entry point for learning about each others traditions and ourselves. Participants told us that this model powerfully supplemented other modes of interfaith encounter: text study, theological dialogue, social action.

Campus Chaplaincy for a Multifaith World proposed to apply that model to a specific population — campus chaplains and religious advisors. The goal was to increase the capacities of chaplains of many faiths to nurture and deepen their own moral and spiritual lives; to build relationships with one another; and to encourage productive conversations across differences on college campuses.

Photo of University of Pennsylvania campus

In our first year, we have learned that the audience for this project includes not only campus chaplains and religious advisors but also student life professionals, professors and many others concerned with the spiritual and ethical lives of college students.

We have also learned that religious diversity is just the beginning. Students find themselves challenged by fraught encounters across many divides--including race, politics, gender, sexual orientation, and social class. These are years when students encounter more diversity than ever before in their lives, and perhaps ever again.

Campus Chaplaincy for a Multifaith World will ultimately include retreats for 50 campus chaplains representing 25 campuses, campus “initiatives” that the participants will design,” webinars and other resources . With the guidance of our “field shapers” we will share the impact of the project with the broader fields of theological education, chaplaincy training, and college education.

Campus Chaplaincy for a Multifaith World has taken on added urgency since the election in November 2016. In the midst of a challenging time in our nation, doubling down on virtues and values, building connections across divides and promoting spiritual practices that can sustain us are needed—in that over-used phrase these days — now more than ever.