A labyrinth walk, an a cappella jam and an Oxfam Hunger Banquet are among the events planned this month to celebrate the redesign of the sanctuary in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel. The schedule will include programming in arts, religion, ethics, and wellness, and the installation of a vibrant new banner on the front of the building.
“The goal is to provide students with ways to explore and share their experiences of spiritual and religious identity and practice, as they establish appreciative and respectful connections with others who are different from them,” according to Dean of Religious Life Jennifer Walters.
Interfaith Awareness Week (through April 9) kicks off the celebration of the redesign, which has involved replacing the original pews with custom-made oak chairs that can be laid out in a variety of configurations to accommodate diverse manners of prayer and worship.
Gabrielle Martone ’14, one of the student organizers of Interfaith Awareness Week and a board member of student group Spirituality In Action (SIA), says she hopes the celebration will “start bringing awareness of different faith identities to the broader Smith community.” There is so much in the media’s coverage about religion, she says, that, unfortunately, includes “stigmas, stereotypes, and assumptions that aren’t always true.”
According to Walters, Interfaith Awareness Week includes activities such as “speed-faithing” which, like speed-dating, encourages people to get to know each other and different religious traditions through a set of enjoyable short activities. Walters would like to see such events, and the new banner, raise awareness about the new sanctuary space and its uses.
“We often hear from students that they do not know that Helen Hills Hills is a Smith building or what happens here,” says Dean of Religious Life Jennifer Walters. “The banner is intended to draw their attention and intrigue them about what’s going on inside.”
Among the month’s highlight is an April 9 Oxfam Hunger Banquet at the chapel, organized by SIA. According to Matilda Cantwell, multifaith fellow in religious and spiritual life, the banquet will run from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and will look at local and global hunger, addressing issues of food and resources from a variety of angles.
Martone notes, “Spirituality in Action seeks to bring people of faith and people of no faith together in dialogue and action for the greater good of the world. The hunger banquet is a way to begin the conversation around action and calling people to action—to get the attendees inspired to do something.”
Anyone interested in attending the banquet is invited to contact the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life at 413-585-2750 or Cantwell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information can be found at www.smith.edu/religiouslife.