Wheelock Joins White House Interfaith and Community Service Challenge

November 19, 2012

The White House has invited Wheelock College to join the inaugural Interfaith and Community Service Challenge, an initiative for institutions of higher education to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service programming on their campuses. Noting that colleges and universities have often been at the forefront of solving our nation's greatest challenges, the White House selected over 250 institutions of higher education higher education institutions  to make the vision of interfaith cooperation a reality on campuses across the country.

Wheelock's appointment to the President's Interfaith and Community Service Challenge comes shortly after the launch of the College's new Office of Spiritual Life. These initiatives illustrate Wheelock's strong commitment to promoting holistic student growth and involvement (including aspects of faith), a natural extension of the College's well-established commitment for positive social change.

Through theoretical dialogue, informed praxis, and thoughtful analysis, Wheelock College's Interfaith and Community Service Challenge Initiative will bring together different faiths to live out the College's motto: "inspire a world of good." It also enables the College to apply its mission of "improving the lives of children and families" within the particular venue of the justice system. The Challenge aims to prepare Wheelock students to work effectively with peoples of divergent spiritual ties and beliefs. 

As part of its growing dedication to interfaith activities, Wheelock named Dr. Adrienne Kisner to the position of College Chaplain in August 2012. The many on-campus initiatives led by Kisner and the Office of Spiritual Life include:   a "brown bag lunch series" featuring individuals of different faith backgrounds who have worked or work currently with prisoners, former prisoners, juvenile offenders, or at-risk youth; Race Amity Devotions and Dialogues; and service projects. Dr. Kisner will also oversee the development of at least one student-led interfaith organization, as well as organizations representing specific faith groups.

"Acknowledging the power and diversity of spiritual life exploration seemed appropriate and necessary in advocating for deeper self-understanding and the personal development of our students," said Dr. Kisner. "The Office of Spiritual Life will provide support and service that enhance our students' natural understanding of themselves and their future professional work in improving the lives of children and families.

Dr. Kisner holds a B.A. from Albright College in Religious Studies and Spanish, an M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology, and a recently obtained Ph.D. in Practical Theology from Boston University. Her research centers on the incorporation of popular culture and young adult fiction into a program of spiritual formation for children and youth. She also serves as a Resident Director at Wheelock, and the Youth Leader of Old South Church in Boston.

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