Building religious communities in a multifaith context
The Brandeis campus is home to a thriving religious community.
On Friday nights, the Shapiro Campus Center loses its classic busyness. The chattering study groups have dissipated, along with the sprawling line at Einstein’s Bagels. But two floors up from the sleepy study space, one room is alive with laughter and music.
Asian Baptist Student Koinonia, or ABSK, is Brandeis’ campus fellowship group that, according to its Facebook page, is “concerned with the religious, social, and cultural issues regarding Christianity and Asians today.” Despite its name, the group welcomes non-Asians and non-Christians alike. ABSK also has chapters at nearby colleges: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University.
Because of the organization’s chapters at nearby colleges and universities, the club is able to have intercollegiate events. However, even with the group’s extensive reach across the Boston area, many of the organization’s leaders are Brandeis graduates.
A typical Friday evening starts with a few contemporary Christian songs accompanied by acoustic guitar. Then non-student leaders start their weekly informal lesson on a verse or chapter in the Bible.
ABSK is just one of the many religious groups on campus. Through the University’s Department of Spiritual and Religious Life, students have access to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim Chaplains. The extensive religious support demonstrates the spiritual diversity among Brandeis students, despite the University’s strong association with Judaism.
River Jade Heisler ’19, a member of both Hillel and Brandeis University Conservative Organization, said, “I do feel like religious organizations on campus are important; they are a great source of community and connection to tradition. There definitely is the association with Judaism at Brandeis, but it seems to me that there are a lot of multicultural organizations on campus now and I think there’s starting to be a lot of dialogue about religion, so it feels like things are going in the right direction.”