The Reverend Angie Buchanan, Founder and Director of Earth Traditions, and former Board of Trustees member of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, has been appointed as a Spiritual Advisor for Pagan students at the University of Chicago through Rockefeller Chapel. The chapel is the “the spiritual and ceremonial center of the University of Chicago,” and this appointment represents a major advance towards recognizing and serving the spiritual needs of Pagan students at college campuses.
Here’s a statement sent to me by Rev. Buchanan on her appointment.
“I am pleased to announce my new appointment as the Spiritual Advisor for Pagan students at University of Chicago, through Rockefeller Chapel. I look forward to working with the student body to help them celebrate and deepen their path.
I am excited that the University of Chicago has joined many other colleges and universities that already have established Pagan student groups in place. I am eager to embrace the opportunity to do important work with students, and other religious staff. I am also reflecting on the role this has for the larger Pagan context.
Having a Pagan advisor on staff at a prestigious university such as the University of Chicago supports the mainstream recognition that opens up opportunities and freedoms already available to the practitioners of other religious traditions. It also helps secure the establishment of Paganism as a world religion.
Formalization of the Pagan presence on campus serves to recognize the desire of students, Pagan and non-Pagan, to learn about Paganism through religious inquiry. It also acknowledges the need to provide a space for self identified Pagans to have their spiritual needs met.
My hope is to help the students build a legacy, to empower them to craft their own study groups and rituals, and to transfer leadership through successive graduating classes, thereby building a self sustaining Pagan presence among the student body.
This fits in line with what the intentions of the Founders of Rockefeller Chapel have been about all along; that being to provide a place based on scholarship and religious inquiry in the spirit of religion, that accommodates the “complex and often contradictory issues related to religious and spiritual practice in today’s world, providing support to members of the campus community of any religious affiliation or none.”
Rockefeller Chapel, along with institutions like Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University, and the University of Southern Maine, understand that their Pagan student population deserves equal access to spiritual guidance. That, along with schools starting to include Pagan holidays in their calendars, helps, in the words of Rev. Buchanan, “open up opportunities and freedoms already available to the practitioners of other religious traditions.”