LSE Faith Centre SACReport Spring2011 2 by GvsmUBG

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									                   LSE Faith Centre
                                                                             Report
                                                              Spring 2011



Contents
Context of the Faith Centre ........................................................................................................................................... 2
Contribution to LSE life .................................................................................................................................................. 2
Purposes of the Faith Centre........................................................................................................................................ 3
Who is the Faith Centre for?......................................................................................................................................... 3
LSE Interfaith Forum....................................................................................................................................................... 3
Staff......................................................................................................................................................................................... 4




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Context of the Faith Centre
In the 21st century, religion is playing a role of increased significance in the politics of
identity, of community cohesion and of international affairs. Religion and the questions
of meaning and morality that it raises impact on both believer and non-believer alike.

At LSE religion and belief underlie many issues that shape campus life, not least in their
relevance to contemporary political questions. Religion shapes both the understanding
many students have of themselves and their understanding of the subjects they study.

The diversity, prominence and political relevance of religious identity today are all in
marked contrast to the climate in which LSE Chaplaincy was formed some forty years
ago. And so the Chaplaincy is undergoing significant changes. Anglican in origin, the
Chaplaincy has broadened out over the years to work across the Christian
denominations. Now is the time to make religious provision for all faiths more explicit
and to draw together existing religious activities on campus under a single, inclusive
umbrella. In so doing we can:

      Enable students from a diverse range of religious backgrounds to express their
       faith authentically.
      Provide an inclusive context where students can work out their own religious
       identity and the issues they raise in respectful relation to one another.

This is what the new Faith Centre seeks to provide.


Contribution to LSE life
The Faith Centre therefore contributes to four areas of university life:

   1. Equality and Diversity – expanding the LSE’s provision as an inclusive
      community to take religion and belief seriously as significant aspects of
      community and personal identity.
   2. Widening Participation – ensuring that the LSE is an attractive place of study to
      people from different faith community backgrounds.
   3. Student Experience – adding value to the student’s experience of study at LSE
      through appropriate faith provision and by giving recognition to the wider
      spiritual and moral dimensions of university education.
   4. Good Campus relations – providing a place of encounter and dialogue which
      can shape an environment of mutual understanding and friendship.




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Purposes of the Faith Centre
With the above dimensions in mind, the Faith Centre specifically seeks to address the
following purposes:

        To provide a spiritual centre at the heart of the School available to staff and
         students of all faiths and none.
        To provide a worship space and facilities appropriate for the practical
         observance of the nine world religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism,
         Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and Baha’i.
        To provide a space of encounter and dialogue both formally and informally
         between students of different faiths.
        To provide a base for the Chaplain/Interfaith Advisor and space for confidential
         conversation with him and other associate chaplains.


Who is the Faith Centre for?
The Faith Centre is a facility for all staff and students, open through the working day. It
will be available as a space for private prayer or reflection and as a place to meet others.
Out of hours access is obtained with the LSE swipe card which will also be available to
regular library users from Security.1

The main worship space can be booked for use by any LSE Students’ Union society
representing one of the nine world religions 2 and participating fully in the School’s
Interfaith Forum. From the beginning of the Michaelmas Term 2013, participation in the
Forum and entitlement to use the Centre collectively will also require the Society being
signatory to an Interfaith Covenant outlining respectful coexistence.3


LSE Interfaith Forum
The LSE Interfaith Forum has existed for several years and played an instrumental role
in contributing the views of the different faith communities to the planning stages for
the layout of the Centre. However, the creation of the new centre gives the Forum a
home and with that both greater purpose and potential. The Forum brings together the

1
  This is the current policy for the Islamic Prayer Rooms in Lincoln Chambers.
2
  The decision to restrict collective worship to the nine world religions is based on the Church of England policy
for interfaith dialogue and is to provide boundaries in the use of the space that make it an acceptable worship
space to the vast majority. Allowing student societies based around new religious movements, cults or other
belief systems (such as atheism) would change the nature of the space and the sense in which it can be a
“home” for adherents of the mainstream religions. But this is not to say such groups cannot be included in
debates, seminars and other broader activities. The restriction simply applies to SU society room bookings.
3
  Wording has yet to be finalised, but no doctrinal agreements of any kind will be stipulated, simply an
affirmation of mutual respect. Importantly a distinction will be drawn between interfaith discussion and a
more “one-way” proselytism which could lead to antagonism.

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principal LSE SU Faith Societies with three purposes: (1) to generate cohesion between
groups on campus, (2) to promote a dialogical approach to faith in the modern world,
between faiths and with secular disciplines and (3) to collaborate in shared concerns,
both of advocacy for religious faith in hostile times and in the pursuit of justice and
peace.

Once housed in the new centre the Interfaith Forum will expand on existing activities to
develop a programme of:

          Regular co-organised events such as Interfaith Week in the Michaelmas Term
           and Holocaust Memorial Day in the Lent Term.
          A rolling programme of visits to sites of religious worship in London.
          Regular discussion of issues pertaining to the student experience such as dietary
           provision, discrimination and security, provision for religious festivals, etc.
          Regular dialogues and debates on interfaith issues with visiting speakers and
           interfaith activities such as Scriptural Reasoning.
          Student led interfaith engagement in political, social and community issues such
           as through London Citizens.


Staff
      The principal staff member is the Chaplain/Interfaith Advisor, in the employment of
      the Diocese of London but supported through the financial contribution of the School.
      In addition, the expanded provision of the Centre may require two additional forms
      of support:
           a. Additional administrative support (a day a week?) to oversee room
              bookings and the running of activities within the Centre. This could be an
              administrator shared with another department in the building.
           b. An annual intern to support the Interfaith Advisor in the running of
              Interfaith Forum and who can work specifically on building relationships
              between the Faith Societies through the Forum’s activities. A recent graduate
              of the School could be a suitable candidate for this post given their
              knowledge of the student body. They could be from any faith background and
              we can explore partnerships with Interfaith Organisations already working
              with universities to provide training and support.4




4
    Inter-Act is a good possibility for this: http://www.interact-uk.org.uk/

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