We invited Mary Hudson, the Pagan Chaplin of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University, to write a guest article about her ministry and a project close to her heart. If you have a worthy ministry like Mary’s, you’re welcomed to contact us with your own guest article idea for the Pagan Examiner too.
Interfaith, an interesting word that can lead to many things; at Syracuse University it has lead to recognizing minority religions and the value they bring to our world. But it doesn’t mean just recognition at the University, it means inclusion.
Last year Syracuse University accepted Paganism as a faith tradition when they recognized the appointment of a chaplain. What a wonderful thing, but that could have been the end of it. Nothing else needed to be done and life would return to “normal.” But that wasn’t the case. Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University embraced its diversity, it embraced pagans. 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 had 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, as the Pagan Chaplain, I have been asked to chaperone the trip, what an adventure! There are four chaperones: a Jew, a Christian, a Buddhist, and me – a Pagan. We will visit seven religious sites including Stonehenge. Asked if there was a 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 during 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 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. We need to raise money to help to our pagan students pay for this trip.
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.
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 recognize pagans; 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 effect whether or not we are invited to participate again. More importantly we need to now 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 and that they made the right decision? 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.comand hit the “send money” button. Use the email address COTGCampusPagans@gmail.comas 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. The Church has set up an account for all funds contributed to this effort.
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.
I should also say that anyone can get hold of me at email@example.com or read my blog at http://jesusandthegreenman.wordpress.com.
You can also read Z Budapest’s blog at: http://blog.zbudapest.com or visit her website at zbudapest.com.