A guide to religious spaces at NU

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Illustration by Angeli Mittal

Read on for information about religious spaces at NU.

Olivia Alexander, Senior Staffer

Northwestern’s students come to campus from over 75 countries and practice a variety of faith traditions. Starting just days after move-in, undergraduates can find community through many spiritual and religious organizations on campus.

Northwestern University Interfaith Initiative exists to promote religious pluralism and increase communication and collaboration between students of all religions. NUii helps groups to coordinate programming and welcomes people of all backgrounds during their weekly meetings.

Along with a Baha’i house of worship about a mile north of campus at 100 Linden Ave. in Wilmette, the University’s Baha’i Club offers a discussion space for students of not only Baha’i faith, but also all backgrounds on campus. Once a month, the group meets to enjoy food and engage in conversation and friendly competition. 

Students founded OM at Northwestern about two years ago. The spiritual student group’s mission is to raise awareness of Hinduism within the school community through education, social events and dialogue. In addition to celebrations of Holi and Diwali, OM meets for weekly Shravan sessions guided by the school’s first-ever Hindu chaplain, Amar Shah, to discuss books on themes such as the pursuit of happiness and living a spiritual life. OM invites all students to join and provides a space to pray in comfort. 

Soka Gakkai International Buddhists for Peace is a group of students following teachings of the Nichiren school of Mahayana Buddhism. They aim to cultivate a strong sense of friendship and contribute to a culture of peace and understanding within the NU student body.

Led by a chaplain, the Muslim-cultural Students Association puts on a series of events for Muslim students from all backgrounds. Throughout the year, McSA hosts religious holiday celebrations as well as weekly Jumu’ah prayer. Other prayer rooms on campus have historically been  in Norris University Center and the Technological Institute. McSA also invites speakers to give talks on relevant topics like queerness and Islam, and more recently, antisemitism and Islam. The association fosters community among Muslim students through events like game nights, trivia and Ramadan banquet dinners. 

The Shia Muslim Association also reaches Muslim students through dialogue and a forum for comparative understanding of Islam. 

Located at 629 Foster St., Northwestern Hillel is in its ninth decade of offering a space for Jewish students to gather on campus. Each Friday, Hillel holds a Shabbat service followed by a meal and hosts celebrations of religious holidays throughout the year. The organization makes a strong commitment to freshmen through its freshman planning cohort, First Year Students of Hillel, who plan and put on events for their peers. Other Jewish spaces on campus include the Tannenbaum Chabad House and MEOR, the latter of which focuses on classes and discussion.

All are welcome at the Sheil Catholic Center at 2110 Sheridan Road. The Catholic Student Association meets Thursday nights there and puts together a variety of events focused on spirituality, fellowship and service. Weekly masses take place twice on Sunday mornings. The ministry recently welcomed a new priest, Rev. Bradley Zamora, who is offering walks to meet and get to know students.

The United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church sponsor University Christian Ministry, an ecumenical and queer-affirming space located at 1834 Chicago Ave. just across the street from The Arch. The group gathers each Sunday night for worship and dinner, and the ministry also holds fellowship events and hosts speakers throughout each quarter. 

The University’s premiere gospel choir, Northwestern Community Ensemble, recently celebrated 50 years on campus. The group engages with students during concerts and other performances of spiritual, gospel and anthem music from the Black Christian tradition. 

Cru is another Chirstian ministry on campus that met weekly on Thursday evenings for Real Life in Fisk Hall before the pandemic. Students in Cru can also join small groups and participate in retreats and conferences during the year and mission trips in the summer. Destino is an additional Cru ministry designed to reach Latinx students.

The Episcopalian and Lutheran campus ministries have houses on Orrington Avenue, just steps from south campus dorms, and a complete list of Christian ministries is available on Wildcat Connection. 

While the spiritual spaces available at NU reflect the school’s religious diversity, students also have the opportunity to start their own group as well. The Division of Student Affairs’ Department of Religious and Spiritual Life exists to meet the needs of all students, faculty and staff.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oliviagalex

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