UMass Amherst Groups Organize an Interfaith Journey to New York City

AMHERST, Mass. - Numerous organizations from the University of Massachusetts will take part in an Interfaith Journey to New York City during the weekend of Oct. 3-4.

The purpose of the event is to promote mutual understanding between the various religious communities at the University and to increase their awareness of the needs of those beyond the campus, according to the Rev. Kent Higgins, co-organizer and UMass chaplain. Participants include staff, students, and chaplains of Hillel House, the Muslim Student Association, the United Christian Foundation, the Ark Episcopal Chaplaincy, and the Dean of Students office.

Prior to the beginning of the Interfaith Journey, the Paul Winter Consort will perform at 8 p.m. Fri., Oct. 2 in the Fine Arts Center. A number of vocal groups from UMass, including the University Chamber Choir and Chorale and the Vocal Jazz and African-American Music Ensemble, will join the performance.

The journey will begin at Hillel House on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 3, when approximately 45 students, faculty, and staff depart by van and car for New York City. The group will spend the early part of the evening at both St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church and Congregation B’nai Jeshurun/St. Paul. For the remainder of the evening, the group will take food and clothing to homeless people on the streets of New York as part of the non-sectarian program the "Midnight Run."

On Sun., Oct. 4, the group will participate in Fajr (dawn prayer) and Asr (afternoon prayer) at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. Later that same day, the group will attend an Earth Mass - a celebration of ecology and the earth - at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Featured in the mass will be music by the Paul Winter Consort, joined by the UMass Chamber Choir, and a procession known as the Blessing of the Animals in which various animals from dogs to elephants will be brought into the cathedral. Afterward, at a festival outside the cathedral, a Sukkah (in honor of the Jewish holiday Sukkos) will be built and dedicated, and donations will be solicited for various homeless projects in New York. The group will return to UMass late Sunday.

Students are currently collecting donations of clothing throughout campus.

For further information, contact Kent Higgins at 549-3501 (office) or 256-0109 (home).