New Multifaith Meditation Room to be Dedicated

Aug. 21, 2015 

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— A new Multifaith Meditation Room at Illinois Wesleyan will be dedicated Aug. 27 at 7 p.m., and the campus community is invited to attend the dedication in the Joslin Atrium, Memorial Center.

The new space is a result of two years of conversations across campus about sacred space facilitated by Rev. Elyse Nelson Winger, University Chaplain, and Multifaith Ambassador Lisa Mishra ’15.

As a 2014 Mellon Scholar, Mishra conducted a historical survey of sacred space on campus, a review of sacred space and interfaith prayer spaces at other colleges and universities, and an overview of prayer practices of the world’s major religious traditions.

“Lisa’s work, continued conversations with campus administration and students, and a major gift from the Merwin Foundation enabled us to move forward with this project,” said Nelson Winger.

She noted religious diversity on college campuses ideally should include architectural spaces that accommodate a variety of religious and spiritual practices.

Last year Nelson Winger and the Multifaith Ambassadors worked with Bloomington architect Russel Francois, Francois Associates Architects, to develop a design, after Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Karla Carney-Hall determined the Memorial Center’s second-floor Meditation Room could be utilized for a multifaith space. The Meditation Room is original to the design of the building, and has been a special place of prayer and meditation for many students, Nelson Winger said. In May President Richard F. Wilson approved the project after Nelson Winger presented a proposal to the Campus Life Committee of the University’s Board of Trustees.

Renovations to the space were made by Johnston Contractors Inc. and Physical Plant. Professor and Director of the School of Art Kevin Strandberg designed and created glass-fused artwork for the space.

The Multifaith Ambassadors will participate in the dedication, which will also feature original music composed for the occasion by David Allen Flowers ’16.

“The Multifaith Meditation Room reflects a new effort for programming and religious diversity and inclusion on campus,” said Nelson Winger. Such spaces promote inclusivity, she said, and bring together students of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds.

The dedication is the first 3D: Diversity, Dignity and Dialogue event of the year. The 3D Series is a campus-wide collaboration on Thursday evenings to have engaging and thought-provoking dialogue, and is sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. All members of the campus community are invited to attend the dedication, which will be followed by a reception. Those who plan to attend are asked to RSVP to Nelson Winger at enelsonw@iwu.edu or 556-3179.