Religious & Spiritual Life Response to Charlottesville
The Office of Religious & Spiritual Life stands in strong support of President Biddy Martin’s letter to the campus community of August 14, 2017. We too decry the bigotry, racism, and hatred evident at the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, and mourn the deaths of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berk Bates.
While none of us doubted the persistence of systemic and personal racism, the events in Charlottesville challenged our conviction that history moves consistently toward greater tolerance, inclusion, and mutual respect. Even after all of the hate-filled events of last year, this most recent overt and violent mob display of racism, white supremacy, hatred, and bigotry was still shocking and disheartening.
The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, a community that represents many different religious and secular traditions, stands united in our commitment to the dignity, worth, and value of every human life. We believe in, and are committed to working toward, the possibility of social justice, even while recognizing our human weaknesses and flaws. This time calls for each of us to look in the mirror and examine our own conscience, values, and commitments. The members of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life are ready and eager to respect, listen, and learn from and with others. While we are all learners in this process of developing an inclusive community, each of us has some resources for guidance within our own belief traditions. Any of us are available to meet with individuals or groups if that would be of interest.
May this wake-up call be a turning-point for good in our community and in our nation. There is much work to be done.
Mohammed Abdelaal, M.R.P., Muslim Advisor.
Roger Carrier, M.A., Catholic Advisor.
Cindy Dumais-Holubowich, B.A., Administrative Assistant.
The Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Fisher, S.T.D., Associate Presbyterian Advisor.
JoDeanne Francis, B.A., H.T. Gardner Bi-Semester Christian Worship Coordinator and Associate Advisor for Black Campus Ministries.
Hermenia T. Gardner, M.S., H.T. Gardner Bi-Semester Christian Worship Advisor, Emerita.
Jyl Gentzler, Ph.D., Humanist Advisor.
Christopher Gow, B.A., Associate Advisor to the Amherst Christian Fellowship.
Mark Hart, Ph.D., Buddhist Advisor.
The Reverend Timothy Jones, M.Div., H.T. Gardner Bi-Semester Christian Worship Fellow.
Rabbi Shmuel Kravitsky, Affiliate Advisor to Chabad on Campus.
Elizaveta Lozovaya, M.A., Muslim Advisor.
Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, M.A., Jewish Advisor.
Manju Sharma, M.S., Hindu Advisor.
The Rev. Dr. Paul V. Sorrentino, D.Min., Director of Religious & Spiritual Life, Protestant Advisor and the Multifaith Council Advisor.
Welcome to Amherst College Religious & Spiritual Life! Staff members of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life are happy to support you in your religious and spiritual exploration and practice. We are committed to assuring that students have access to the services and practices of their choosing. If these are not available on campus, then we will make every reasonable effort to assist students in finding community resources that meet their needs. On this site you will find information about the religious and spiritual life staff, student religious, spiritual and humanist organizations, holidays and several other helpful links. In addition to the traditions represented at the College, there is a broad array of religious organizations in the greater Five College community.
An important part of Religious & Spiritual Life at Amherst College is multifaith and non-faith collaboration and engagement. It is guided by three principles: engagement should be Respectful toward the beliefs of others, Authentic to one’s own tradition, and Meaningful in nature (RAM). This means that we listen to others and value their opinions, even when we may disagree. We are committed to being honest about our own beliefs even when these may be in the minority. We try to insure that any collaborative activity is especially valuable and worth the time for people to take away from their other activities and commitments.
The Office of Religious & Spiritual Life operates in concert with the mission of Amherst College as an educational institution. As we seek to equip students to be global citizens, we recognize that a significant part of their training includes literacy in faith and non-faith systems of values and beliefs. We want to complement the valuable courses offered through the Religion and Philosophy Departments by providing opportunities for meaningful interaction with people of differing beliefs and values in a variety of settings. These include dialogue across traditions, community engagement, the study of sacred texts through Scriptural Reasoning, multifaith services, and other interactions.
The Religious and Spiritual Advisors look forward to meeting you and are available for individual counsel and advice. Most of these advisors have office hours (posted on this site) and all are available by appointment. Feel free to contact any of the staff by telephone, email, or in person. We value your comments. Our offices are located in The Cadigan Center for Religious Life at 38 Woodside Avenue (south of Newport House and behind the President's House).
The Rev. Dr. Paul Sorrentino
Director of Religious & Spiritual Life/Protestant Advisor