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Programming Brings Sykes Chapel to Life

Published: December 08, 2010
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The University of Tampa is committed to nurturing and developing the character of its students. The Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values , which will be dedicated on Dec. 10, is a visual statement of this.

Another enduring statement is the formation of the Resource Team for Faith, Values and Spirituality. Formed in fall 2009, the 19-member group has been creating venues and platforms for students, faculty and staff to engage in meaningful conversations.

The resource team’s mission is to further strengthen UT students’ academic and personal development through character-building, spiritual development and enhancing their understanding of world cultures and religions.

“I love hearing the experiences of students who have already been participating in our programs. They are really enjoying having deep, meaningful dialogue with others,” said Stephanie Russell Holz, associate dean of students, director of the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement and leader of the resource team. “One student mentioned to me that her experience has shown her that you have to talk to one another to understand each other. Having dialogue is always the first step.”

The resource team has successfully launched a Spirituality and Film Series, book club, values-based retreat and Community Conversations, which assembles the UT community into small groups for lunchtime conversations about a range of topics. The goal is to promote social justice, cultural inclusion, appreciation of diversity and the breaking down of barriers. The resource team is also collaborating with the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit, in building a successful and sustainable center of interfaith cooperation on campus.

This coming semester some of the resource team’s programs include a meditative walk in the chapel’s labyrinth, a showing and discussion of the film Eat Pray Love and a book club featuring Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel.

Patel, one of U.S. News and World Report’s Top Leaders of 2009 and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, will also be giving a keynote address on March 15 at 7 p.m. on the importance of religious pluralism and interfaith leadership.

“As the dedication for the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values is approaching, the energy on campus is rising,” said Russell Holz. “Students are so excited that character and values programs will now have a home.”

The dedication of the 15,000-square-foot, interfaith facility will be held at 2 p.m. with tours and the first sounding of the 3,184-pipe custom-built organ. For members of the public who wish to attend, RSVPs are requested at (813) 257-3019.

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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