Ecumenical “Speed Dating”

The trip marked the end of a 10-week series of visits to different churches–from Baptist to Quaker–sponsored by Shenandoah’s spiritual-life team, which oversees religious activities on campus, to help students find a good religious match. “In terms of looking at churches,” says the group’s co-leader, the Rev. Don VanDyke Colby, “it’s speed-dating.”

This week’s issue of Time magazine has a story of a campus minister in Winchester, VA, who offers students an unusual opportunity to visit faith communities other than their own.

Each Sunday the students get a brief presentation by a representative of that week’s church and sit in on a service, taking notes and joining in worship when they’re so inclined. Afterward, they pile into the van and head back to campus, where they discuss the experience in the dining hall over sausages and waffles. “We invite them into some critical thinking,” says Don, by examining the core tenets of each faith beyond the feel-good trappings that his wife shorthands as “Jesus as Mr. Rogers in sandals.” (It’s not just Christianity; the VanDyke Colbys are planning an interfaith road trip in the spring.)

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