UCCS to lead interfaith initiative

Tom Hutton, University Advancement, (719) 255-3439, (719) 351-6519, thutton@uccs.edu Jeff Scholes, Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life, (719) 255-4089, jscholes@uccs.edu

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Helping University of Colorado Colorado Springs students who come from different religious traditions or who have no religious commitment find common ground will be the subject of the first event of the White House Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.

The inaugural event, featuring a local pastor and a panel discussion of campus and community leaders, is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. Sept. 27 in the University Center Theater.

Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak will introduce Benjamin Broadbent, pastor, First Congregational Church, Colorado Springs, who will speak on the issue of religion in a diverse community. Jeff Scholes, instructor, Department of Philosophy and director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life, will lead a panel discussion of how to address concerns involving religion on the campus. The discussion is a planned kick off of a year-long series of efforts designed to explore how people of differing faiths, as well as those who do not consider themselves religious, can work together toward a common goal.

In June, UCCS was accepted into President Barack Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge for the upcoming academic year. In August, Scholes and Peg Bacon, provost, traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss UCCS efforts for the coming year. Throughout the fall semester, there will be weekly lunch meetings for students interested in a continuing dialogue around these issues.  Students will also be invited at the event to participate in the Give! Campaign sponsored by the Colorado Springs Independent this fall and to help with the local parks services this spring.

“We know we have many students at UCCS who have deeply felt beliefs,” Scholes said “We also know that we have many students who believe equally strongly that organized religion or even spirituality is not for them. How do we honor these commitments while attempting to bridge this gap in order to effect real change in our community?”

Panel members will include
Peg Bacon, provost
Kee Warner, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusiveness, Academic Affairs.
Benjamin Broadbent, pastor, First Congregational Church, Colorado Springs
Kristy Milligan, director, Citizens Project
Jeff Scholes, instructor, Philosophy Department

The event is hosted by the UCCS Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life. Event sponsors include three campus student groups, Campus Crusade for Christ; Colorado Secularist, Free Thinkers and Skeptics; and Coloradan Buddhist Society.

The event is free and open to all UCCS and greater Colorado Springs community members. Refreshments will be served.

For more information about the Interfaith Community Service Campus Challenge, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ofbnp/interfaithservice. For more information about local events, visit: www.uccs.edu/rdpl  or contact Scholes: jscholes@uccs.edu  or 255-4089.

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The university offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s and five doctoral degrees. The campus enrolls about 9,300 students annually.