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Campus News

Spiritually Unaffiliated Group Forms on Campus

For this regular religious and/or spiritual group interview, I got to hear from Morgan Steele and Bryce Dow-Williamson about the forming of a group based in the personal experience.

Their purpose is to discuss ideas not necessarily constrained to religious or philosophical tradition, dogma, or practice.

The group has it’s beginnings in this year’s first community meeting on the topic of Spiritual Life, where transfer student Bryce Dow-Williamson indicated that he was interested in forming a group for open discussion on spirituality.

Since then, this group has been accumulating interest. It is hoped to start after fall break with regular meetings held on Sundays.

- Dave Grace, Spirituality and Social Justice

SL: How would you describe the role of spirituality in your life?

Morgan: Spirituality doesn’t really play a defined or concrete role in my life, besides that I’ve always felt a genuine understanding that I am a spiritual being, and that I have a true longing to feel spiritual. That’s why I’m excited to join the group. It will give me a chance to figure out for myself what role spirituality plays in my life. I’m looking for more concrete understanding.

Bryce: I grew up in a church that would have a teen group every sunday, we would share about our lives and relate them to our denomination, workshop on genuine expression and acceptance of love and learn meditation techniques. It is called ‘religious science’ the book is ‘science of mind’ but now they are ‘the centers for spiritual living’. In that spirituality there were also camp getaways during the summer and winter that were the most accepting and loving experiences that I have ever had. I moved away from that and more into hinduism as i grew up, and really enjoyed the ritual and solid practice that hinduism provides. I think discussing spiritual life with others who consider life a spiritual experience is one of the best ways I have learned about the world around me and myself.

SL: This group is open to discussion of spirituality without being confined to any particular tradition/worldview. How has your spirituality related to religious traditions or institutional forms of spirituality?

Morgan: In high school, I was part of The United Methodist Youth Foundation (UMFY). We met once a week. It’s supposed to be Christian-oriented, but we didn’t really talk about the Bible, except in context of the way Jesus lived his life. We mainly talked about how to be better people, care for one another, and find clarity in ourselves. Whatever my spirituality is now, UMYF has definitely helped shape it. I’ve also done a lot of Buddhist reading on my own, which further taught me about what I was learning in UMYF.

Bryce: The church i grew up in had core beliefs but encouraged everyone to learn more about older religions and find their best resonance.

SL: What do you see as the potential for a group, such as this one, that doesn’t base itself in historical religious forms?

Morgan: The beauty of a group that is “unaffiliated” is that it’s entirely open to self-determination, and entirely shaped by the genuine sentiments of the group members. I feel like in a lot of institutions they’ve already found their Truth, or they have found clear paths to the Truth. In an unaligned group like this, we aren’t sure of the Truth, if there even is one. We can find it – or not – and adapt it to our selves, create our own truth and not feel like it’s wrong or should be another way or as though we’re being pressured into it. It allows us to question Truths we have known and find Truths for ourselves.

Bryce: I think the potential is limitless. it could fizzle without interest, but it could also support our community with a power that I see as unharnessed. The best thing it could be is a group of people comfortable enough to share the depths of their truth and develop them with people that are supportive and inspiring.

SL: What is significant, for you, about being a part of a group that is consciously exploring a spiritual life?

Morgan: Even if the role of spirituality in my life is undefined, I still firmly believe that that role is important. In spiritual institutions, members of those institutions have a community to mutually support and nurture their spiritual lives. For those of us who can’t define our spirituality in a few words, we don’t have a spiritual community. I believe that nurturing and support are very important to anyone trying to find their own spirituality. A spiritual community is definitely something I want, and I think I will benefit from having that in this group.

Bryce: It is a reminder, in work and school and socializing I can lose track of my spirituality. It comes in nature walks and beautiful moments where a friend or stranger speaks like a saint, but to have these spiritual questions posed and to feel like somebody wants to listen is a very powerful possibility.

SL: What is lacking in normal social scenarios that could be impacted by spiritual consideration?

Morgan: I’m no expert, but it seems to me that most spiritualities encourage “the golden rule”: treat others the way you’d like to be treated. I think if everyone had that spiritual consideration in the back of their head all the time, social situations would totally be improved.

Bryce: In normal social scenarios there is often competition, spiritual consideration can bring intentionality with words, a respect for the importance of being quiet, of listening in a deeper way and hopefully encouraging an expression of wisdom accumulated as well as instilling trust in ones internal ideas rather than such a focus on the views, opinions and judgements of others as most important

SL: Do you have any other thoughts for people who may be interested in this group?

Morgan: This group is for anyone who has questions about their own spirituality or the spiritualities of the world, who wants to embark on an introspective journey with other people. Anyone is welcome!

Bryce: There’s nothing to be afraid of.


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