Life Together

Larry WhitneyAn Ecumenical Ethos

A message from the University Chaplain for Community Life

So here you are at the fourth largest private research university in the US!  In the midst of over 30,000 students plus faculty, staff and administrators you have more opportunities here than you would have almost anywhere else.  Getting your head around that fact may scare you, may excite you, and probably does some of each.  It’s a bit like religious and spiritual life, really: sometimes exhilarating, sometimes a tranquil and steady assurance, sometimes absolutely terrifying, and often all of these and more all at once.  As the University Chaplain for Community Life, I have the privilege to walk with you over the coming years as you find your way in the midst of all of these opportunities with their myriad aspects. Whether you are a student, faculty, staff or an administrator, the chaplains and staff at Marsh Chapel are available to you and ready to welcome you into our life together.

Marsh Chapel is the center of religious life on the Boston University campus. Drawing on our Methodist heritage, we work to establish an ecumenical ethos that is a common ground for the Boston University community. Perhaps this vision was articulated best by the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, former Dean of Marsh Chapel, when he said in his book, The Search for Common Ground:

In the conflicts between man and man, between group and group, between nation and nation, the loneliness of the seeker for community is sometimes unendurable. The radical tension between good and evil, as man sees it and feels it, does not have the last word about the meaning of life and the nature of existence. There is a spirit in man and in the world working always against the thing that destroys and lays waste. Always he must know that the contradictions of life are not final or ultimate; he must distinguish between failure and a many-sided awareness so that he will not mistake conformity for harmony, uniformity for synthesis. He will know that for all men to be alike is the death of life in man, and yet perceive harmony that transcends all diversities and in which diversity finds its richness and significance.

The very word “university” means unity in diversity. At Marsh Chapel, we take our role in community formation to be central to the ethos of Boston University.

Our life together can be understood in four categories: worship, fellowship, service and study. These aspects of our community are lead and guided by the ministry department staff of Chapel, Ministry, and Marsh Associates.  Students may also choose to become involved in leadership at Marsh Chapel through the Servant Team or the Interfaith Council.  We encourage all members of the Marsh Chapel community to identify some form of ministry, whether that be holding other members of the community in prayer, baking communion bread, serving as an usher, or something else.  In whatever way you become involved at Marsh Chapel, you will find a warm, engaging, kind-hearted community of mutual support and encouragement.

We do hope you will join us in our continuing search for common ground.

Br. Larry+