As time moves forward at a university, some organizations and groups grow, while others shrink. One of the groups to grow in the past few years is ONU’s Religious Life, as seen with this year’s Spirit Space event.
Spirit Space is fairly new to ONU, starting about 4 years ago. It began as a way to introduce students to local churches, and arranged for an evening during the first week of classes so people from the churches could attend. Religious life groups were later added so that students who were interested in religious life participation could interact with those organizations away from the noise of Welcome Fest.
Spirit Space is part of the recent growths that Religious Life has experienced, Chaplain David MacDonald said, “When I arrived on campus, Religious Life was very much based around Chapel, and the Thursday morning worship. While that’s still a signature piece of what we do, we have expanded our outreach through the various Religious Life organizations, and have even started a few new organizations to help reach out to students who are interested in different faith traditions, such as the Interfaith Leaders Program and Jewish Union.”
Religious Life has expanded from just being a Chapel service and has become more mindful that ONU ministry involves more religions than just Christianity, resulting in more diversity and the with the inclusion of the Jewish Union, the Muslim Student Association, Seder meals, and Interfaith trips. This diversity is boosted with the development of the Religious Life Leaders Council, which is composed of all the leaders of the various Religious Life organizations. The group meets monthly to coordinate activities so that they are not competing against each other when various events and programs are held.
Mackalyn Figgins is one of the students who works with Religious Life and played a role in Spirit Space. Serving the role of Worship Arts Coordinator, she leads the decoration of the chapel, as well as the two Religious Life bulletin boards outside of the religious life office and in McIntosh. “I am able to help people form community and encourage people to be creative. My role also involves helping people get connected to where they feel they fit best within Religious Life and being a team member/helping hand for other staff members when needed,” Figgins said.
Spirit Space itself provided an opportunity for all the Religious Life groups on campus, as well as local churches, to be able to show all the great things happening on campus and in Ada.
Figgins holds a lot of hope for the future of Religious Life, “As we keep moving forward in embracing our different viewpoints, I think we are going to continue to get better in having conversations, especially conversations in which we don’t disagree. This is important because by having these conversations we are able to learn from each other and have a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives.”