Interfaith, an interesting word that can lead to many things; in the case of Syracuse University it has led to recognizing minority religions and value they bring to our world.  But it doesn’t mean just recognition here at the University, it means inclusion.

I have always wanted my beliefs to be accepted. Last year Syracuse University did just that, they accepted Paganism as a faith tradition when they recognized my appointment as a chaplain.  What a wonderful thing, but that could have been the end of it. Nothing else needed to be done other than give me the same space as the other chaplains have and life would return to “normal.”  But that wasn’t the case.  Hendricks Chapel at SU embraced its diversity, it embraced us. It is not just lip service given to placate a small group; it is true acceptance as a member of the faith community. 

In the past the Chapel has sponsored interfaith/inter-religious student trips to places of significant religious meaning.  They have always focused on the Abrahamic religions and recognized “three faiths, one humanity.”  This year that has changed, three faiths have turned to many faiths and all faiths are welcome to join the interfaith trip to England.  This year I have been asked to chaperone the trip, what an adventure!  But it isn’t just me.  There are four chaperones: a Jew, a Christian, a Buddhist, and me – a Pagan.  We will visit seven religious sites including Stonehenge.  I was asked if I had preference for dates to visit the stones and since the Jewish festival of Purim begins on March 20th I asked if we could be there on the 19th – the time of the full moon.  How amazing that the school has worked to include all faiths.  Not only that but to also go out of its way to ensure religious celebrations that may occur during the trip be included.  I am thrilled, and yet there are challenges to making this a reality.

And so for my request of you, of the pagans you know, and of the pagans and supporters that they know.  I need to raise money to help to our pagan students pay for this trip. 

I don’t need funds for myself; my expenses are taken care of.  This trip is an opportunity unlike any other that I have heard of being offered to pagans, especially from a mainstream institution.  But there is an expense associated with going.  Each student will need to pay approximately $3800 for the trip.  That is a lot of money when you are already paying regular tuition along with room and board. But I have four students that have signed up and are willing to do whatever it takes to raise the funds.  So I’m asking you, the pagan community and its friends, to help out.  The Church of the Greenwood has put together a an account to collect any contributions towards this effort. There is an immediate need for $2000 for the students to pay their deposits. The deadline for the deposits is November 12th. We will be working on the additional funding as we move forward.

I’m asking the pagan community to help in this endeavor for a couple of reasons.  First, when Syracuse University recognized my appointment they placed their academic, professional and financial reputations on the line.  The University did not back down from that decision when critics questioned why they would do such a thing; it didn’t cave when donors threatened to pull their monies. Rather it has fully integrated pagans into mainstream life at the Chapel.  Second, as I said before this is a unique opportunity.  It would be a shame to let it slip by and possibly affect whether or not we are invited to participate again.  More importantly we need to step up and recognize that this was not a small thing.  Supporting the new generation of pagans as they move forward and letting them know that there is an entire community “out there” helping to pave the way is unbelievably important.  I am continuously asked by students and parents alike “are there others out there and how do I know where to find them?”  Let them know you are out there, let them know that you want the next generation to move into areas of acceptance that you didn’t get to enjoy but had to fight for.  Pagans have said for so long that they wanted a “place at the table” unfortunately we didn’t know where it was.  Well now we do.  But I have to add to that, not only have we been given a place at the table, we have also been asked our opinion.  It may seem like a small thing to some, but this is no small thing.  These students have the ability to celebrate the full moon at Stonehenge while engaging others in interfaith dialogue to help create understanding of whom and what we are. 

I know that there are a great many causes to support, but I have to say why not show those that have risked their reputations to stand up for us that we appreciate their efforts?  Why not help these students move understanding forward?  You will hear from me again on the subject I’m sure, but for now think of the ignorance that has been moved aside and help us support the continued effort of education and acceptance.

We have a couple of ways to contribute funds.  First is through PayPal.  Just log in at www.paypal.com and hit the “send money” button.  Use the email address COTGCampusPagans@gmail.com as the email to send funds to.  This will put the funds directly into the account setup for the student’s fundraising. 

The second way is to send a check to the church directly.  If you are able to help please send your contribution to:

Church of the Greenwood
P.O. Box 5323
Syracuse, NY 13220

Make sure to mark “Campus Pagans” to route it properly.

I appreciate all of the help that has been given so far and all that I know that will be coming in the future.  Once again, please pass this along to those you know and those beyond that and may the gods and goddesses bless all of you and your generosity.

Advertisements