*Update: Applications for Muslim and Jewish applicants will be accepted through April 1st. We are no longer accepting applications from Muslims outside of the US.*
Farm the Land, Grow the Spirit: A Multifaith Peace, Justice and Earthcare Program for Young Adults
May 31-July 3, Session 1
July 10-August 7, Session 2
Students may attend one session only or both, but are encouraged to come for both. You may leave or stay on campus during the break, where there will be celebrations and free time.
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 the Institute will include the Muslim observance of Ramadan* and the Jewish observance of Shavuot.** Institute students will have the opportunity both to learn and to share in these experiences, while having the opportunity to practice and share their 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. 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 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 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
- study nonviolent approaches to justice and peace
Throughout the program, students will have opportunities for one-to-one mentoring sessions for spiritual and vocational guidance.
Session 1: May 31 to July 3
The session begins with 6 days of orientation before Ramadan starts on Monday June 6. The following three weeks students will participate in morning workshops (Monday through Thursday) and afternoon “Wisdom from the Faith Traditions” sessions (Tuesday through Thursday). Each week we will examine different social justice issues (Immigration, Indigenous Rights, and Racial Justice) during the morning workshops. These workshops are designed to deepen students’ social awareness of these issues and equip students with practical skills in activism and community organizing to enable them to become more effective advocates on the issues. In the fourth week, students will engage with the topic of religious conflict and peacebuilding during the morning workshop and present to the group about what they have been learning and reflecting on during the afternoon sessions.
Each week a different founding member of the Community of Living Traditions will lead the week’s “Wisdom from the Faith Traditions” sessions, allowing students to explore nonviolence in the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions from a gifted teacher and practitioner of each faith.
In order to accommodate those who are fasting during Ramadan, students will be required to participate in farming activities on Friday mornings only. However, students are welcome to work on the farm in the mornings before workshop sessions throughout each week.
There will be two sessions, with a break for Eid beginning July 3rd. The second session will begin July 10th. Students may attend one session only or both, but are encouraged to come for both. You may leave or stay on campus during the break, where there will be celebrations and free time.
Session 2: July 10 to August 7
The principal theme of Session 2 is eco-justice. Students will spend mornings working on SPC’s farm (Monday through Thursday) and afternoons participating in “Wisdom from the Faith Traditions” sessions (Tuesday through Thursday). Each week’s wisdom sessions will be led by accomplished teachers from either the Muslim, Jewish, or Christian traditions. Discussions in the wisdom sessions will focus on how each faith tradition engages social justice issues specifically related to food justice, climate change, and earthcare. Additionally, students will have opportunities to visit partner organizations working for eco-justice in our local and regional context.
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.
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!
The Jewish holiday of Shavuot is celebrated June 11 to June 13, 2016, a weekend including Shabbat. Shavuot is one of three Jewish harvest festivals that commemorates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is observed as days off from work and celebrated 7 weeks after Passover. We will learn about the holiday and study the biblical sections associated with it. We will also have the option to attend synagogue services and eat traditional foods.
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.