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Blessings for Numen Lumen center communicate religious diversity on campus

November 16, 2012

Shereen Elgamal, assistant professor of Arabic, participated in the first ceremony and represented the Islamic tradition. Photo by Melissa Kansky

The series of blessings for the Numen Lumen building demonstrates the facility’s function and dedication to interfaith dialogue.

“It’s a visible way of demonstrating these are communities on our campus that take ownership of this building and want to see its mission succeed,” said Lauren Emery, associate chaplain at Elon University.

Following College Coffee, a different faith community will offer a blessing each week for the building that expresses the hope for its protection, security of its inhabitants and success for its purpose. The series of blessings will continue until the end of the semester, and the Multi-Faith Center will open January 2013.

The prayers offered will be displayed in the building upon its completion.

“The main inspiration to involve our community is to welcome the building and to envision what it might mean for us here at Elon and to involve the community in actual blessings,” said Jan Fuller, university chaplain.

The ceremony indicates the shared ownership of the building among everyone on campus, according to Emery.

“This is a place that everyone has a piece of and a hand in it, and that’s why these interfaith blessings are so important,” Emery said. “It’ is everyone’s home.”

Most recently, Jane Wellford, professor of performing arts, recited a blessing on behalf of the Protestant Christian tradition.

Shereen Elgamal, assistant professor of Arabic, participated in the first ceremony and represented the Islamic tradition. The following week Anthony Weston, professor of philosophy, and Dianne Ford, coordinator of serials and government documents in the library, offered a blessing on behalf of nature tradition.

“The name is intentionally nebulous so people who don’t seem themselves in any of these religious blessings can kind of see themselves in that one,” Emery said.

The inclusion of the nature tradition communicates the building is available for people of any faith or of no organized religion, according to Emery.

The Numen Lumen building is scheduled for completion early 2013. Photo by Melissa Kansky.

Furthermore, involving various members of the community illuminates the religious diversity embedded in the institution, Fuller said.

“What I wanted to highlight was we have practitioners, believers and thinkers on our campus that cover all the bases: religious, spiritual and ideological,” Fuller said.

Nevertheless, the building itself denotes the university’s commitment to spiritual life and respect for all faiths, Emery said.

As an alumna, she said she is excited to return to Elon to witness its progress regarding religious diversity.

“A building is a very powerful symbol of this mission,” said the 2008 alumna. “To have it so centrally located on campus shows it’s a huge priority for campus and it’s a really powerful change from where we were. It shows we’re continually investing in it and moving forward.”

Representatives from the Interfaith Youth Core visited Elon and helped the faculty clarify the mission of the Numen Lumen Center.

Following the visit, Elon has identified the building as a place of spiritual formation and exploration; a house of religious, societal and cultural study, emphasizing the advancement of the study of religion in an interdisciplinary manner; a place to develop spiritual life on campus; and a place to increase religious literacy.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. andersj permalink
    November 18, 2012 6:33 pm

    Hi Melissa! Thanks for your great efforts in continuing a high level of reporting frequency even during the in-depth final days and many other pursuits you are engaged in right now. You misspelled a word in this headline, and you should be sure to copy edit all of your work here at the end of the semester, just to sharpen it up and avoid mistakes like the one in this headline. If you have the time, I think the last two paragraphs of this story might be good as a little infographic.

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