Arts & Culture / Mosaic / September 21, 2009

Religious diversity prominent on campus

There is a club for almost every religion here at Knox College. All are very open to new people and students that are still unsure what religion they identify with.

Sue Hulett, Professor of Political Science has been researching religion on campus. She found last spring that 40% of Knox students say they are “somewhat” or “very spiritual”; 31% say they are “somewhat or very religious”, and 23% are “neither spiritual nor religious.”

Professor Hulett said these groups on campus exist because they, “provide spiritual and personal fellowship, a group to worship with, and a friendly atmosphere where students can ask the big questions like ‘is there God,’ ‘what is my purpose in life,’ and ‘how can I engage with the spiritual’ – however one might define that term.”

According to Professor Hulett, a majority of Knox students become less involved in religion while in school. This is the general population of Knox, though; the less to moderately religious students. More devout and more curious students will work to stay involved in spiritual practices. They are able to do this through clubs and social groups on campus as well as through private practices.

Some of the religious clubs at Knox include:

Hillel

Hillel is Jewish group but is not limited to members of the Jewish faith.

“We aren’t a strictly religious campus group, but more a gathering of friends from similar backgrounds,” said Sandy Guttman, co-president of Hillel. They enjoy discussing political and social issues “related but not limited” to Judaism, and cooking and eating Jewish food.

Knox College’s Hillel provides rides to Temple Sholom on Friday nights and High Holy Day services. Hillel does not just attend Temple Sholom: they participate in many aspects of the temple. Some of the past events have been bagel brunches on Saturdays and Shabbat dinners where they light candles to welcome the Sabbath, I-Fair, and Latkepalooza. General meetings are to discuss and coordinate events, as well as talk about religion and spirituality.

Some activities to get excited about for this year are Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services, Latkepalooza, and a Passover seder. There might even be a Sukkah on campus for Sukkot. Guttman is especially looking forward to the Passover Seder at Temple Sholom and Latkepalooza.

“There will be plenty of potato pancakes to go around,” she said.

Guttman wants the campus to know that Hillel is not just for Jewish students. They want everyone to join them for their festivities.

Look for fliers around campus and contact sguttman@knox.edu for more information.

Intervarsity Christian Fellowship

Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) is an interdenominational,

multicultural Christian group that aims to help students grow in their faith while helping the community, campus, and world. President of IVCF Christina Belcher said, “We are not a church or just a social opportunity. Our goal is to see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world-changers developed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

IVCF is open to students of all Christian denominations and any other religion. Large group meetings are Friday nights at 7 in SMC E117. These meetings generally consist of prayer, speakers and discussions. There are also women’s groups and men’s groups where the genders can split up and talk amongst themselves about religion and social life. Bible study groups also occur during the week. Past events have included chapter retreats, large IVCF conferences, and coffee night.

“It was really cool to see women from extremely diverse backgrounds and different places in life come together, talk about God, and care for each other. I was shocked at how quickly the group became a tight, loving community,” said Belcher about small women’s group meetings.

IVCF does believe the Bible is truth and the way they see it is “all we can do is point to the truth and help challenge each other.” They want more people to come to meetings so they can challenge each other. “We really, really want to be genuine and loving and open to all of Knox, not just our little group of Christians,” Belcher said.

Contact cbelcher@knox.edu or sjuist@knox.edu for more information on meetings and events.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

This group formed recently in the fall of 2008. They aim to bring athletes and coaches that share a Christian faith together. They work to bring athletes together for discussion, outreach, volunteer work and fun. The meetings generally take place in the classroom above the fitness center.

President Rachel Clark explains that since FCA is still new, there is a lot that still needs to be decided about the meetings. However, meetings tend to include sports discussion, short prayer, discussions, and games.

Meetings are “a time for student athletes to get together and talk about some of the difficulties we might face as Christians in our lives and in our sports. It’s a time to unwind and de-stress, which, as athletes and students, we all definitely need,” said Clark.

This year there will be meetings twice a month. FCA hopes to bring in speakers, have movie nights and play capture the flag or ultimate Frisbee tournaments. Last year, FCA worked hard to create a haunted ship with canons and cobwebs for the Halloween carnival. Clark said, “It took time and effort, but it was really fun to see the final project.”

Contact raclark@knox.edu for more information.

Islamic Club

This club wants to spread awareness of Islam and Islamic issues throughout the Knox and Galesburg community. Islamic Club is for students that are part of the Islamic faith or want to learn how it relates the world today. The meetings are open to anyone.

Islamic Club has given presentations on Islamic culture and politics, held celebrations for Islamic holidays, brought speakers to campus, taken trips to Islamic sites, and held an event called “break fast” where club members informed students about Ramadan. Islamic club will be co-hosting an event with Hillel this fall term. All students are welcome!

Contact bbatraw@knox.edu for more information.

Newman Club

Newman Club is a Catholic organization at Knox that aims to increase the understanding of Catholicism amongst Catholics and non-Catholics. Newman Club wants to have a space where students feel comfortable enough to ask hard questions about faith. All discussion topics are selected by the students and led by students.

President Katie Nellett says Newman Club hosts Catholic Mass in the Wilson House Sundays at 6 pm (except the third Sunday of every month). They also have discussion meetings from 7-8:30 in the Wilson House on Mondays. Meetings tend to include discussions about the Roman Catholic Church, applying faith to their lives at Knox, and moral issues.

Newman Club will be doing three service projects this year, one per term. Rosaries, blankets, and bread will be made and donated to places in need. The other big event for this year is Faith on Tap. Nellett wants the Knox students to know Newman Club is welcoming and not intolerant.

Contact knellett@knox.edu for more information.

Pagan Student Alliance

Pagan Student Alliance is a group that works on eliminating stereotypes and misrepresentations of Paganism. President Emily Berarducci explained that PSA’s mission is to “provide a safe, encouraging place for people who identify as pagan or are interested in paganism. Furthermore, we constantly strive for an outside understanding of paganism.”

The group was re-established three years ago. The meetings take place in the Center for Intercultural Life and tend to include planning for bigger events, workshops, discussions, events, and rituals. Berarducci says their first meeting was September 15.

Some of the events for this year are divination, herbal remedies, ritual writing, pagan gatherings, and a camping trip for the autumn equinox (Mabon) over a weekend.

“[My] favorite activity from last year would have to be our trip to Grinnell College where we spent the night with students from the Grinnell Pagan Club, performed a ritual, and had a soap making workshop,” said Berarducci.

Berarducci said, “A common misconception about pagans in general is that they are anti-Christian. This is not true: in fact, we respect the beliefs, spirituality, etc. of each individual, whether someone is Christian, Muslim, or even those from a different sect of paganism.”

Contact eberardu@knox.edu for more information.

Jennifer Lloyd


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