Farm the Land, Grow the Spirit: A Multifaith Peace, Justice and Earthcare Program for Young Adults
Wednesday, July 5 - Sunday, August 13, 2017
The Stony Point Center 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's theme is "Resistance and Resilience."
In peace and justice work, appreciation of difference and the ability to engage with people of diverse backgrounds have become virtues of paramount importance. Moreover, science has demonstrated that biodiversity and interdependence are crucial to the survival of life on this planet. These two truths offer complementary insights into the Community of Living Traditions’ approach to working for justice and peace at Stony Point Center.
We believe that the religious traditions of the world have interrelated lessons to teach us all about welcoming “the other” and caring for the earth. 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.
Living in Community
Throughout the residential Summer Institute, students will be active participants in the life 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. Our 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 separate bedrooms avaliable 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 Summer Institute is multi-dimensional. The students will:
engage in multifaith study and dialogue
grow in their relationship to the land and to each other through farming
live together in community
engage in the themes of Resistance and Resilience
Throughout the program, students will have opportunities for one-to-one mentoring sessions for spiritual and vocational guidance.
Students will be able to explore the "Wisdom Sessions" with a gifted teacher and practioner from each of the three faith traditions. Bios of the Wisdom Teachers for 2017 will be uploaded as they are confirmed. Currently you can see the bios of the 2016 teachers in the sidebar above.
Communal Celebrations and Field Trips
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.
More Information and How to Apply
If you are accepted into the Summer Institute, there is no charge beyond the cost of travel and personal expenses. Travel scholarships may be available once a student is accepted. Room, meals, Institute transportation, and laundry are covered. 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. Deadline February 15. Applicants will be notified with two weeks of the deadline. Only completed applications (including one letter of reference) will be considered.
Summer Institute Leadership Team
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. 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.
"I learned how to clean eggs, how to plant seeds and transfer seedlings. I built weeding skills and vegetable cleaning skills....Farming wasn't really appealing to me before the SI, but working in the garden was a form of meditation...Being close to the earth and working with others increased my appreciation for ecological cycles. It was really fun to see foods in Evergreen that we had harvested." Liat Melnick, Jewish student 2016, Baltimore, MD.
"I participated in the action for Syria....It made me feel that Stony Point Center is a family where everyone supports each other and everyone works for a common goal....I discussed other activism events that I did not attend with students that did and we had interesting conversations about the importance of standing together for justice." Kholoud Al-Ajamma, Muslim student 2016, Bethlehem, Palestine
"This was my first experience living in community and it was remarkably positive. I learned that when I trust people, their presence can be deeply restorative, that having a lot of people to help out made life much more simple, and that being truly devoted to one another in spite of differences is a rich and rewarding practice." Joss Yarbrough, Christian student 2016, Nashville, TN
Photos from 2016
Photos from 2015
Photos from 2014