Monday, June 1 – Thursday, July 23, 2015
The Stony Point Summer Institute is seeking Jewish, Christian and Muslim young adults, ages 19-29, who are grounded in their religious tradition, serious about spirituality and the state of the planet, and excited by social activism in a multireligious context.
We offer a rich opportunity to live in a supportive community with peers from different faiths and with similar interests. Together we will study and share the three Abrahamic traditions, what they teach about social activism, nonviolence and justice, and apply them to personal and social transformation as we strengthen our relationship to the earth.
This year the Summer Institute will include the Muslim observance of Ramadan.* Institute students will have the opportunity both to learn and to share in this experience, while having the opportunity to practice and share their Jewish and Christian traditions as well.
In peace and justice work, appreciation of difference and the ability to engage with people of diverse backgrounds have become virtues of paramount importance. At the same time, environmental science has demonstrated that variety and interdependence are crucial to the survival of life on this planet. These two fields of endeavor offer complementary insights into the highly interrelated nature of all creation.
At Stony Point Center (SPC), we believe that the religious traditions of the world are also interrelated. Together, they constitute a spiritual ecology. The welfare of humanity now requires that we consciously rebalance that spiritual ecology -- acknowledging the precious uniqueness of each tradition while strengthening their mutual relations.
Every religious tradition is a deep ongoing human conversation about the things that matter most. Each of these conversations is irreplaceable. We believe they also have important things to say to each other. We invite you to participate in this conversation of conversations! The Summer Institute provides you an opportunity to explore new languages of doing and being while increasing your vocabulary in your own spiritual tongue.
Throughout the 7 and ½ week residential Summer Institute, students will be active members of the Community of Living Traditions (CLT), the multifaith community of Muslims, Christians and Jews that helps run the Stony Point Conference Center and engages in social activism. During the Institute, students will be paired with CLT members to help orient them to Community life, daily operations and ways to contribute to the life of the Center. This Community life also includes serendipitous opportunities of lively discussion forums, encounters with visiting speakers, and recreational adventures such as swimming, boating, hiking and trips into New York City.
Within the larger CLT context, Summer Institute students will create their own more intimate community as they live together in a large residence with several separate bedrooms for women and men. You and your peers will have ample time to share insights and perspectives as well as care of your common space.
The Program will be multi-dimensional: students will spend time working together in the SPC vegetable gardens growing their relationship to the land and to each other under the leadership of our farmer Will Summers; students will study the Abrahamic social justice, peacebuilding and earthcare traditions, with our leadership team and accomplished teachers from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions; students will get involved in the social justice activities that the CLT community is already involved in to learn how social change works "on the ground," and finally, students will have time to consider life path changes and vocational discernment, using one-to-one mentoring sessions with elders from their faith tradition and other activities.
We will incorporate the celebration of the Sabbath into our program each week, allowing for rest and spiritual reflection. This could include weekly Shabbat observances, as well as time for students to attend houses of worship of their choice. In addition, we will take field trips as a group to houses of worship of the three Abrahamic faiths, as well as to other relevant locations.
If you are accepted into the Summer Institute, there is no charge beyond the cost of travel and personal expenses. Room, meals, Institute transportation, and laundry are covered. Travel scholarships can be made available on the basis of need. At the end of the program each student will receive a certificate of completion. If you are enrolled in an academic institution, you are encouraged to seek academic credit for participating in the Institute. Some academic institutions offer money to students for undertaking summer experiences. The Summer Institute leadership is happy to work with you to apply for such money or academic credit.
Click here to go to our online application. Rolling Admissions. Muslim, Jewish and Christian cohorts are open until filled. Decisions will be made within 2 weeks of receipt of complete applications (including one letter of reference).
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Joyce Bressler, our Jewish elder and multifaith resident of the Community of Living Traditions at SPC, received a BA in Government and an MA in Student Personnel in Higher Education. A veteran political activist and community organizer in the movements for peace, civil rights, and women’s liberation, she ran political and media campaigns and helped build the food coop movement. Joyce was the Administrative Coordinator for the Jewish Peace Fellowship and worked at the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s national office for two decades. She also brings experience in grant writing, counselor education and conflict resolution. This will be her second summer as the Jewish leader of the program. She is passionate about food justice and sharing her experiences with the next generation.
Rabia Terri Harris is chaplain and Scholar in Residence at the Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center, an Abrahamic intentional community dedicated to the pursuit of peace and justice through the practice of hospitality. She also trains chaplains in Clinical Pastoral Education, serves as an adjunct professor in the Core Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and edits Fellowship, the magazine of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
In 1994, Rabia founded the Muslim Peace Fellowship (MPF) the first organization devoted to the theory and practice of Islamic nonviolence. As a theorist and investigator in Islamic peacebuilding and multireligious solidarity for justice, Rabia has written extensively and lectured and offered workshops nationally and internationally for two decades. In 2009, her thirty years of experience in spirituality and community service led to her being chosen as the first president of the Association of Muslim Chaplains.
The child of a Jewish father and a Christian mother, Rabia embraced Islam in 1978. She holds a BA in Religion from Princeton University, an MA in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary. Rabia is a senior member of the Jerrahi Order of America, the American branch of the Halveti-Jerrahi Tariqa, a three-century-old traditional Sufi order headquartered in Istanbul. She is the translator, from Arabic, of several significant works from the classical period of the Sufi discourse.
Kitty Ufford-Chase is Co-Director of SPC with her husband, Rick, and serves as the administrative point person for the Summer Institute Leadership team. She is a life-long Quaker from New Jersey and spent close to 20 years in Tucson working on food justice and US-Mexico border issues before coming to Stony Point Center in 2008. She has a BA in Political Science and an MA in Intercultural Relations. She is passionate about exploring how contemplative and activist lives complement each other, eating local food, studying strategic nonviolence, and making connections between ideas, people, histories and cultures. She and Rick are the parents of three teenagers.
Will Summers has been Stony Point Center’s farmer since March 2013. His agricultural journey began in Australia where he was a “WWOOFer” (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for 2 months volunteering on farms and discovering the rhythms of agrarian life. Will apprenticed at Green Gate Farms and World Hunger Relief, Inc. in his home state of Texas where he gained experience growing vegetables, raising livestock, working with community-supported agriculture programs, and urban gardening. These experiences led him to south Texas’ Rio Grande Valley where he co-developed a “farm-at-school” program, growing vegetables for a school district’s cafeteria lunches and facilitating educational experiences for students from kindergarten through high school. He also worked as a farmer and educator at Hilltop Hanover Farm & Education Center in Westchester County after he and his partner, Sarah, moved to New York from Texas in 2011. In 2014, Will completed Eastern University’s Masters of Arts in Urban Studies program where he focused on community development and food justice.
In addition to the Leadership Team, other religious leaders and educators from the three faith traditions will be participating in the Institute.
Observant Muslim students will find Stony Point Center a comfortable location for Ramadan, as well as a stimulating one. Spaces are available for salah throughout the day, including our Meditation Space at the center of campus. Several local masjids offer tarawih prayers nightly. Pork is never served in the Stony Point Center dining room, and halal zabiha meat will be on the menu throughout the Summer Institute. Dining schedules can flex to accommodate iftar and suhur meals; work schedules will take the needs of fasting people into consideration. The Institute offers transportation to community Eid prayers , there will be time allowed for students to join their families for Eid, you are also welcome to consider inviting your families to visit you for Eid festival on our beautiful campus here!
“Gardening is fun, rewarding and its hard work. It has made me appreciate the food I eat by looking at the amount of work that goes into growing it. I love how it has metaphors that connect to real life. Weeding, planting, resting the soil, needing rain, needing protection from extreme temperatures, they all connect with my life. It also connects me spiritually and helps me remember the stories of the people of the book. I don’t think I will ever leave gardening.”
Azmeh Amer, Muslim student, Richmond, VA
“….it brings all different sorts of humans together and asks them to go deep with each other, and to not just go deep with each other but to develop a broader community consciousness that’s not necessarily based on shared values or geographic proximity. Exposure to the sort of knowledge we learned … helped immensely …. So the strongest feature in one word would be COMMUNITY.” Paige Ransbury, Christian student, Asheville, NC
“It is so important and has been so transformative to me… and I can only imagine for my colleagues as well… that by participating you are making a strong statement of values that healthy communities are communities that are diverse and that respect their diversity culturally, ecologically, socially, ideologically, ethnically, spiritually, and personally.” Noam Sienna, Jewish student, Toronto, Canada
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