Month: March 2019


Diversity Program of the Month
Prayer, Reflection, and Community

School: Baylor University Region: SWACURH
Person in charge: Lauren Gray Ross and Desmond Thomas Nominator: Erin Graham

Target Population: 20 Time Needed to Organize: 4 days
Number of People in Attendance: 45 Date(s) of Program: March 21, 2019
Number of People Needed to Organize: 13 Cost of Program: $3-$5
On-Campus Population: 16232 Chapter Size: 19

Origin of Program:

The Prayer, Reflection, and Community Program originated from Allen and Dawson Residence Halls’ Residence Hall Director (RHD) Lauren Gray Ross and Allen and Dawson’s Resident Chaplain Desmond Thomas idea to gather together in the wake of the recent violence that happened at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. Both Lauren and Desmond, along with the Community Leaders (CLs/RAs), wanted to provide a time of prayer, reflection, and support for residents affected by the violence, as well as come together in solidarity to support the Muslim community, especially our residents in the hall, and the Muslim community at Baylor and in Waco, Texas.

Word Count: 110

Please give a short description of the program:

The Prayer, Reflection, and Community Program began at 8:00PM on Thursday, March 21, 2019. It was held on the 2nd floor sundeck of Dawson hall. Residence Hall Director (RHD) Lauren Gray Ross, Chaplain Desmond Thomas, and Allen and Dawson Community Leaders (CLs/RAs) met about an hour before the program to clean up the sundeck, rearrange seating, set up tables to hold candles, set up lights and a sound/speaker system, and go over how the timeline of the event. Residents, other Baylor students outside of the hall, and other community members from Baylor began coming up to the sundeck at about 7:45, where the community engaged in a short time of fellowship before Chaplain Thomas began the event at 8:00PM. Chaplain Thomas began with a short prayer and a time of student led reflection. Then three CLs came up to the front to read a timeline of the Mosque shootings and attacks that took place on March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand. We then entered a time of call and response prayer led by another CL. A member from Baylor University’s Better Together Organization, which encourages interfaith discussion and holds interfaith events on campus, talked about the importance of coming together as a community of multiple beliefs and backgrounds, as well as how we can begin to change the world for the better through peace, respect, and discussion of After the prayer, all of those in attendance got up and went to a table where there were unlit candles representing each person who was killed. RHD Lauren Gray Ross led this time of silent reflection, prayer, and remembrance by lighting the candles, and then directing the students to carry their candle over to the table at the other end of the sundeck. During this time, we had silent reflection and prayer time to remember those who were killed and who were affected by the attacks. During this time, residents prayed together and with some of the residents in our community who were affected by the violence, as well as singing worship songs. Then our RHD closed the evening with this blessing: May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half- truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts. May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy. And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Word Count: 473

Goals of the program:

The goals of the program were this: to bring our residential community together in support and stand alongside our residents and friends, as well as the Muslim people and communities who were affected by the violence in Christchurch, and to bring about an awareness and call to action to stand against injustice, and to stand for peace and respect for everyone.

Word Count: 62

Positive and lasting effects of the program:

There were quite a few positive and lasting effects of this program. One of the most notable effects was that other members of the Baylor community came to the event as well when they heard residents talking about it, and when Baylor University’s Multicultural Affairs Office got the word out to different groups on campus. One of our own residents had been deeply affected by the violence in Christchurch, and on March 22, the Friday after our event, she had gone to the local Islamic Center in Waco, Texas for the service they were holding in the wake of the violence and attacks on the Muslim communities in Christchurch. She was accompanied by several of her friends and some of our residents in support of her and the Muslim community. There has also been more of an openness in discussion in our residence hall, especially those focused on interfaith relationships and topics, as well as cultural awareness and humility. The community overall has come together even more than it already was, and during our program, I was reminded of why I call the residents in the Allen and Dawson Halls/LEAD Community family, and I believe many others did too.

Word Count: 200

Short evaluation of the program:

The Prayer, Reflection, and Community Program was an overall success. We did not know exactly how many people would attend, and it was great to see almost fifty people from our halls and the Baylor community attend our hall program. One thing that could be improved would be to extend an invitation to leaders from the Islamic faith, or other leaders in the community, whether in Waco or at Baylor, to speak or lead reflection, or prayer if possible.

Word Count: 80

How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

This program could be adapted onto other campuses and other programs that would be held regarding recent events that have affected various communities on campus, in the surrounding communities, in the United States, or around the world very similarly to the description and goals previously listed. This program could be held in various places, outside or inside depending on the weather or space needed or provided. Other campuses, if they do not have residential chaplains or a chaplain on campus, could invite faith leaders from surrounding religious communities to help lead the event, whether in prayer, reflection, reading a timeline of events, or other possibilities that would be best for the community and people that would attend, or who would be the intended audience. Decoration could be as much or as little as wanted, regarding candles, lighting, programs/pamphlets for the event, and all of those would depend on the type of space. Our only cost was buying candles, which were one large candle, and about fifty smaller candles, which totaled to five dollars, and this could be adapted to anything, lanterns, flowers, notes, or anything else. It is important to contact the appropriate centers on campus, such as the Office of Multicultural Affairs on your campus, different cultural and faith communities, or other groups that would be and/or should be involved with this program to ensure the event is put on in a way that is culturally aware, has the correct facts and/or tone (such as the timeline and prayers that were read and spoken), and would be respectful of those it is being held for, as well as those in attendance. Those who would be putting on or leading a similar program like this should allow for enough time to plan, organize, and advertise, so at least four days minimum.

Word Count: 302

Date of entry into database: 2019-04-02 23:38:28

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