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Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service records

 Collection
Identifier: A064

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the programs, affiliations, and activities of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service and related religious entities at Northeastern University, including the Chaplain's Association and the Religious Advisory Board, between 1961 and 2014 The bulk of the records are from 1977, when the Office of Religious Life became a visible presence in the NU community, through 2010. The collection contains records of the Office of Spiritual Life, Religious Advisory Board, and Chaplain's Association, and includes correspondence, annual reports, budget information, meeting minutes, proposals, program calendars, and architectural plans. The collection also includes applications, flyers, budgets, correspondence, and pamphlets from associated religious organizations on the NU campus, such as HILLEL and Christian Science. In addition, records in the collection document Holocaust Remembrance Week, religious aspects of commencement services, Martin Luther King, Jr. convocations, the Coalition for Divestment in South Africa, Religious Awareness Week, and other religious events. Also of interest are records documenting the expulsion of the Boston Church of Christ for cult-like behavior in 1988 (Boxes 2, 8), and the architectural plans for the renovation of Bacon Memorial Chapel in 1983 (FF1/D2) and for the new Spiritual Life Center in 1998 (RS11/S3). For photographs related to the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, see the Northeastern University Photograph collection (A103), drawer 35.

Dates

  • 1961-2012 (bulk 1977-2010)

Creator

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access:

Records are closed for 25 years from the date of their creation, unless researchers have written permission from the creating office. Student records (Box 8) are closed for 75 years from their date of creation.

Historical Note

The first chapel service for Northeastern University students was held in October 1927 in the Church of the Messiah, on the corner of Gainsborough and St. Stephens streets. The weekly mid-day service was instituted by Charles W. Havice, the advisor to the Student Union. The services were "non-denominational worship periods at which visiting representatives of different faiths gave ethical and moral talks to students" (Marston 124). In 1940, Dr. Havice resigned from his duties as the advisor to the Student Union and was named the first Dean of Chapel. When the new Student Center was opened in 1947, it housed the Bacon Memorial Chapel, a gift from Chandler and Co. and dedicated to the memory of Charles F. Bacon, a long-time employee of the company.. In 1960, President Knowles allowed denominational religious activities, which had previously been forbidden, on campus: "The University is interested in encouraging all students to affiliate with religious organizations of their choice in their own parishes or in Boston. The University sponsors non-sectarian chapel services on a voluntary basis which are open to students once a week in the Bacon Memorial Chapel. The University does not charter student organizations which establish separate student groups on nationalistic, racial, political or religious bases" (Frederick 59). With growing enrollments leading to a more diverse student body, Knowles acknowledged the need for a unifying structure within which religious activity could take place (Frederick 60).This challenge was met in part by the formation of two supervisory bodies in 1966 that served alongside the Dean of Chapel, The Interfaith Council and the Faculty Committee on Religious Life. Prior to Dean Havice's retirement in 1974, the Interfaith Council (now named the Chaplain's Association ), stepped up to support the administrative functions of the office, as the University transitioned from a Dean of Chapel to the more collective Office of Religious Life. Management of religious life on campus continued to occupy the second floor of Ell Building. The chaplains were not paid by NU, but offered pastoral care to its faculty, staff, and students; delivered the convocations at graduation; offered university services; and organized campus religious programs. There have been varying numbers of chaplains at NU over time, representing many faiths. Episcopal chaplain Colin Gracey served full-time at NU from the mid-1960s until his retirement in 2004. The Faculty Committee on Religious Life (renamed the Advisory Board on Religious Life in 1971) worked as a liaison between NU and the chaplains. Composed of faculty and staff, the Board acted as a resource for chaplains and helped in programming and planning events with other NU units. In 1977, the chaplains activities were removed from the oversight of the Dean of Students and placed under the Vice President for Administration. At this time, a full-time administrative secretary was hired, Alice Scott, and the Office of Religious Life became a formalized entity. In October 1983, a Reaffirmation of Faith Service was held to celebrate the newly renovated Charles F. Bacon Memorial Chapel. The chapel renovation was led by the Religious Advisory Board to create a more inclusive space for the growing variety of faiths held by the student body. In particular, the pews were unbolted so that Muslims could worship in the space. In 1992, the Office of Religious Life became the more inclusive Office of Spiritual Life. In 1993, NU architecture professors Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Therani were commissioned to design a new layout for the Bacon Memorial Chapel. After several meetings in 1992, President Curry and the chaplains agreed that a more inclusive sacred space would better cater to the growing diversity of faiths in the student population. The pews were removed permanently. The design of the Sacred Space won the Boston Society of Architects award for unbuilt architecture in November 1996. When a fire destroyed the chapel in December 1996, the insurance money was used to expedite the building of the new Sacred Space. The Spiritual Life Center was finished and dedicated in 1998.In 2000, Michael Woodnick filled the new position of Director of Spiritual Life, after having completed a three-year term as Chair of the Spiritual Life Advisory Board. The Director assumed the administration of the Spiritual Life Center and helped coordinate the work of the chaplains. Also at this time, the Spiritual Life Advisory Board was expanded to include students and served as an important means of communication among the NU community, the Chaplain's Association, and the Office of Spiritual Life. In 2004, Shelli Jankowski-Smith replaced Michael Woodnick when the directorship was expanded to a full-time position. As a result, the Spiritual Life Advisory Board was phased out in 2005. In 2007, the Spiritual Life Center's administrative offices were relocated to the second floor in Ell across from the Sacred Space. In 2012 the Spiritual Life Center was expanded and reimagined as the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, with Alexander Levering Kern as Executive Director. The Center builds partnerships across University departments and disciplines, and with religious communities and public service agencies locally, nationally, and internationally to help students become engaged citizens, peace builders and equipped as leaders to tackle pressing global problems. The work of the Center is organized into two mutually reinforcing spheres. The Sphere of Spirituality and Interfaith Engagement offers students, faculty and staff opportunities to explore their personal spirituality, diverse religious traditions, learn ethical reflection and decision-making, and develop interfaith appreciation and competence. The Sphere of Service and Social Action, Coordinated by the Social Justice Resource Center (SJRC), serves as an inclusive hub of innovative justice-minded thinking, collaboration and action that empowers students, faculty and staff to help enact a society that is equitable and peaceful.

Chronology

  • 1927 First Chapel service held; non-denominational services are offered on a weekly basis
  • 1940 Charles Havice named Dean of Chapel
  • 1947 Bacon Memorial Chapel opens in the newly built Student Center (now Ell Hall)
  • 1960 President Asa Knowles allows denominational religious activities on campus
  • 1966 Interfaith Council and Faculty Committee on Religious Life are created to support the growth in religious activity on campus
  • 1971 Interfaith Council renamed the Chaplain's Association and the Faculty Committee on Religious Life becomes known as the Advisory Committee on Religious Life
  • 1974 Dean Havice retires; as no new Dean of Chapel is named, the Office of the Dean of Chapel becomes known informally as the office of Religious Life
  • 1977 The Advisory Committee on Religious life renamed the Advisory Board on Religious Life; the Office of Religious Life becomes a formal entity
  • 1983 Bacon Memorial Chapel renovated
  • 1993 Monica Ponce de Leon and Nadar Therani commissioned to design new layout of the Bacon Memorial Chapel
  • 1994 Office of Religious Life is renamed the Office of Spiritual Life and the Religious Life Advisory Board becomes the Spiritual Life Advisory Board
  • 1996 The design for a new Sacred Space to replace the Bacon Memorial Chapel awarded the Boston Society of Architects Award for Unbuilt Architecture; prior to the renovations, a fire destroyed the Bacon Memorial Chapel
  • 1998 The Spiritual Life Center opens; dedication of Sacred Space on site previously occupied by the Bacon Memorial Chapel
  • 2000 Michael Woodnick becomes first Director of Spiritual Life; Chaplain's Association becomes known as University Chaplains
  • 2004 Shelli Jankowski-Smith named Director of Spiritual Life
  • 2005 Office of Spiritual Life renamed Spiritual Life Center; Spiritual Life Advisory Board phased out
  • 2007 Spiritual Life Center offices relocated to the second floor of Ell Hall.
  • 2012 Spiritual Life Center renamed Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service; expanded Center includes the Social Justice Resource Center.
  • 2012 Alexander Levering Kern named Executive Director of Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service.
1927
First Chapel service held; non-denominational services are offered on a weekly basis
1940
Charles Havice named Dean of Chapel
1947
Bacon Memorial Chapel opens in the newly built Student Center (now Ell Hall)
1960
President Asa Knowles allows denominational religious activities on campus
1966
Interfaith Council and Faculty Committee on Religious Life are created to support the growth in religious activity on campus
1971
Interfaith Council renamed the Chaplain's Association and the Faculty Committee on Religious Life becomes known as the Advisory Committee on Religious Life
1974
Dean Havice retires; as no new Dean of Chapel is named, the Office of the Dean of Chapel becomes known informally as the office of Religious Life
1977
The Advisory Committee on Religious life renamed the Advisory Board on Religious Life; the Office of Religious Life becomes a formal entity
1983
Bacon Memorial Chapel renovated
1993
Monica Ponce de Leon and Nadar Therani commissioned to design new layout of the Bacon Memorial Chapel
1994
Office of Religious Life is renamed the Office of Spiritual Life and the Religious Life Advisory Board becomes the Spiritual Life Advisory Board
1996
The design for a new Sacred Space to replace the Bacon Memorial Chapel awarded the Boston Society of Architects Award for Unbuilt Architecture; prior to the renovations, a fire destroyed the Bacon Memorial Chapel
1998
The Spiritual Life Center opens; dedication of Sacred Space on site previously occupied by the Bacon Memorial Chapel
2000
Michael Woodnick becomes first Director of Spiritual Life; Chaplain's Association becomes known as University Chaplains
2004
Shelli Jankowski-Smith named Director of Spiritual Life
2005
Office of Spiritual Life renamed Spiritual Life Center; Spiritual Life Advisory Board phased out
2007
Spiritual Life Center offices relocated to the second floor of Ell Hall.
2012
Spiritual Life Center renamed Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service; expanded Center includes the Social Justice Resource Center.
2012
Alexander Levering Kern named Executive Director of Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service.

Extent

8.1 cubic feet (14 containers, 2 flat file folders, 1 tube)

Overview

The first non-denominational Northeastern University chapel service for students was held in 1927. The position of Dean of Chapel was established in 1940, and the Bacon Memorial Chapel was erected in the student center in 1947. After 1960, when NU President Asa Knowles lifted the ban against denominational religious groups on campus, religious life at NU began to flourish. In 1966, the volunteer chaplains formed the Chaplain's Association to help support the administrative aspects of religious life on campus, fully assuming the duties upon Dean Havice's retirement in 1974. In 1966, the Religious Advisory Board was created as a liaison between NU and the chaplains. In 1977, the Religious Life Office gained formal status at NU, and in 1994, it became the Office of Spiritual Life, reflecting the diversity of spiritual belief within the NU community. The Office of Spiritual Life was known as the Spiritual Life Center from 2005-2012, before becoming the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service in 2012. The Center builds partnerships across University departments and disciplines, and with religious communities and public service agencies locally, nationally, and internationally to help students become engaged citizens, peace builders and equipped as leaders to tackle pressing global issues.

Overview

The collection documents the programs, affiliations, and activities of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service and related religious entities at Northeastern University, including the Chaplain's Association and the Religious Advisory Board, between 1961 and 2012. The bulk of the records are from 1977, when the Office of Religious Life became a visible presence in the NU community, through 2010. The collection contains correspondence, annual reports, budget information, meeting minutes, proposals, pamphlets, program calendars, and architectural plans. The collection also includes documents relating to the Holocaust Awareness Committee, commencement services, Martin Luther King, Jr. convocations, the Coalition for Divestment in South Africa, Religious Awareness Week, and memorial services for members of the Northeastern community.

System of Arrangement:

Arranged in one alphabetical sequence by subject.

Physical Location

30/3-4, 39/4, FF1/D2, RS11/S3

Bibliography

  • Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service Website: http://www.northeastern.edu/spirituallife/
  • Feldscher, Karen. Northeastern University, 1989-1996. The Curry Years: Smaller but Better. Boston: Northeastern University, 2000. LD4011.N22 F45 2000
  • Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University: An Emerging Giant: 1959-1975. Boston: Northeastern University, 1982. LD4011.N22 F7x 
  • Gracy, Colin. Telephone interview with Michelle Light, December 2002.
  • Marston, Everett C. Origin and Development of Northeastern University, 1898-1960. Boston: Northeastern University, 1961. LD4011.N22 M3 
  • Northeastern University Student Handbook, 1966-2004. Boston: Northeastern University.
  • Spiritual Life Office Website: http://www.neu.edu/spiritual_life/
Title
Finding aid for the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Andrew Begley
Date
April 2015
Language of description
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
92 Snell Library
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US