by Christian Diaz, News Editor
Sandy Pfeiffer and friends hosted the college’s first community meeting on Wednesday, September 7 to outline the college’s efforts to marry religious tolerance and food security as key issues to tackle during the coming year in response to President Obama’s Interfaith Community Service Campus Challenge.
At the community meeting President Pfeiffer asked how spirituality fit into the triad noting that because of our unique circumstances as a work college with a service requirement, our efforts would be distinguished from of other colleges.
Key initiatives include a partnership between Warren Wilson’s Exploring Religions class and Manna Food Bank to cultivate an interfaith community garden from which 100 percent of proceeds will go to Manna.
Professor of Religion Jeanne Sommer committed to leading spiritual retreats with groups of ten students at a time to provide them a safe space to explore who they are. The retreats will end with a festival of light ceremony.
The college will also host University of Asheville’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) for educational and cultural events that will aim to increase understanding of the Muslim faith. The MSA participated in the interfaith community ceremony in remembrance of the atrocities of September 11 in the college chapel last Sunday.
Kathy Kramer spoke on the important role community service can play in building cross-religious understanding.
“When people come together with shared tasks a community is built” Kramer said. “Service becomes a vehicle bringing people together around tolerance.”
After the college submitted a plan to the White House, Pastor Steve Runholt was invited to join representatives from 250 other colleges and universities In the nation’s capital on August 3. Runholt attended workshops designed to help administrators catapult their institutions’ initiatives.
The Challenge was created with the purpose of bridging the gap in understanding between religious communities through collective service-oriented efforts. Initiatives will be evaluated by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The most exemplary initiatives will be recognized by the White House in the Summer of 2012.