Sep 062004
 
Authors: Rachel Wiley

Peggy Christiansen wants CSU students to know that university life is not all about academics.

Christiansen, director of United Campus Ministry, said university life is also about taking care of spiritual needs.

The University Religious Directors Association is sponsoring Connect to Your Faith Community today on the Lory Student Center Plaza from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to create an opportunity for students to get involved or learn about local faith communities.

About 20 religious groups from campus and the surrounding community will be out on the Plaza today to promote spirituality and provide information to interested students, Christiansen said.

CSU is trying to be more aware of spiritual diversity and the idea that spiritual development is an important part of academic development, she said.

“The university has had to be so careful about the separation between church and state,” Christiansen said. “It’s hard to lift up spirituality. This is an opportunity for the university to support the spirituality of students.”

Spirituality is an important part of the “Wellness Wheel,” said Hedy Berman, director of Hillel, a Jewish student organization.

The “Wellness Wheel” is a tool that Gwen Sieving, a health educator at Hartshorn Health Service, uses to teach EX145, a health and wellness course offered at CSU. One of the six dimensions of wellness she covers is spiritual wellness.

“Spiritual wellness involves a set of guiding beliefs, principles or values that give meaning and purpose to your life,” Sieving said. “It includes the capacity for love, compassion, forgiveness, altruism, joy and fulfillment.”

The event today will demonstrate ways students can incorporate spirituality into their daily lives.

“(Connect to Your Faith Community) is a way of saying to students that this can be a part of their college experience,” Berman said.

The event will also be a place to learn about religions with which students are not familiar.

“It’s an educational opportunity,” Christiansen said.

Katie Taylor, treasurer of the Muslim Student Association, agreed.

“(This event) is a wonderful service to provide to students,” said Taylor, a senior political science major. “They have the chance to learn about so many different perspectives at events like this one.”

The Pagan Student Alliance, Hillel and the Adventist Christian Fellowship are among the groups that will be represented on the Plaza.

Many students are excited about the opportunities for involvement the Connect to Your Faith Community will provide.

“I find this event incredibly important because it gives new students and returning students a chance to explore different religions, meet other people with similar religious beliefs and find a place where they can be themselves,” said Kayla Brummet, CSU Hillel president.

Brummet, a junior English major, appreciates the impact the event has had in past years.

“As an RA, I have seen it assist some of my residents in finding a church or religious organization that they feel comfortable with,” she said.

Brummet will be at the Hillel booth today to help answer questions about Hillel and Judaism.

As organizers of Connect to Your Faith Community, Christiansen and Berman want students to feel comfortable.

“(Some) students are a little nervous that they’re going to get pressured,” Christiansen said. “This is not about pressuring; this is about being there as a resource.”

Being there as a resource is also important to the many of the organizations involved, such as the Muslim Student Association.

“All we hope to do is provide information about Islam to others, and tell them about other events they can attend to learn more,” Taylor said.

Connect to Your Faith Community has been an annual event for the at least five years, Berman said. There are a few more groups participating from the Fort Collins community this year than there were last year. Berman and Christiansen have worked to help the event grow and hope that more groups will participate in the future.

Christiansen also hopes students will take advantage of this opportunity to get out there and ask questions.

“College is a really important time to be asking questions,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

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