The Office of the Chaplaincy was excited to reintroduce our Sylvester Series in Spirituality this spring! The Sylvester Spirituality Series is made possible by a generous gift offered by the Sylvester family. This series focuses on the intersection of spirituality, leadership and positive social change and strives to bring dynamic, socially engaged leaders to campus.  This past February Bree Newsome, an artist, activist and community leader, joined us for a full day on campus. Newsome drew national attention in 2015 when she climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capitol building and lowered the confederate battle flag following the death of nine black parishioners by a white supremacist at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Bree recited both the Psalms and the Lord's Prayer while removing the flag and understands this act of civil disobedience as a deeply faithful statement. She currently works tirelessly to empower women and people of color as she continues to lend her voice to national conversations.

While on campus Newsome shared a conversation with Dr. Lauranett Lee, Visiting Lectured at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, for a gathering entitled “Racial Justice Activism in the South.” This event offered staff and faculty an opportunity to join in conversation with Newsome as a part of the Library and Office of Common Ground’s “In Common” program.  Newsome then visited two classes, both First-Year Seminars: “Anxiety and Ethics” taught by Dr. Kathleen Skerrett and “Faith and Difference in America” taught by the Chaplaincy’s own Rev. Dr. Craig Kocher.  Following her time with first-year students, Newsome shared a meal with Westhampton College students. Her visit culminated with the presentation of her lecture “Tearing Hatred from the Sky” to an audience of over 275 faculty, students and staff.

Next year the Office of the Chaplaincy will host Fred Bahnson, Director of the Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program, and Assistant Professor of the Practice of Ecological Well-Being at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Bahnson’s research and teaching focus on the intersection of ecology, sustainable agriculture, and contemplative spirituality. He is the author of Soil and Sacrament and co-author with Norman Wirzba of Making Peace With the Land. Bahnson will be on campus Thursday, February 20, 2020 through Friday, February 21, 2020 and will visit with several classes, make on campus presentations and offer a lecture focused on the spirituality of food and eating.