SAIT’s Interfaith Centre is experiencing growth it has not seen in more than 20 years with its recent inclusion in the school’s learner services department.
An active attempt to rejuvenate the centre has paid dividends with the hiring last year of the school’s first full-time chaplain, Art Kung.
“When I was invited to come here, it was because SAIT was looking to revitalize the Interfaith Centre,” said Kung, a representative of the Protestant Christian faith.
“Things are moving, things are starting to take on greater visibility, greater attention,” Kung said in an interview.
The move to include the centre under the mantle of learner services in September, 2015 has brought with it more resources to help connect students to their various faiths on campus.
“We’re not just a little offshoot of our own, we belong to a much larger, vast department,” said Kung.
“It’s a fantastic place for us, we’re really enjoying it.”
The Interfaith Centre, based in room MB227 in the Stan Grad Centre, offers many religious services, with Catholic mass twice a week, Christian prayers and Bible studies on Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as daily Muslim prayers.
Kung said they have received a lot of support from the school in their efforts.
“I’ve had lots of support from people of great title at SAIT,” said Kung.
“It’s encouraging that when you’re coming here to do something that is your passion, that SAIT also seems to have the passion for that.”
While the centre itself is located in a modest office space, Kung said that a new, larger location is in the works.
Another of the centre’s chaplains, Tim Nethercott, feels a new location would be in their best interest, but they might need more full-time chaplains to make it a viable option.
“It would be better if we had a more prominent spot,” said Nethercott.
“But we’re just building this thing, and we only have one full-time chaplain, so I don’t think we’d be looking too good if we were in a high traffic area with no one to run the place.”
Nethercott, a representative of the United Church, will be holding a “community building” drum circle every week in the Chinook Lodge, starting next semester.
“It becomes a very important community to the people who participate,” said Nethercott. “It really is a lot of fun.”
Things are moving, things are starting to take on greater visibility, greater attention. – Art Kung
Kung said the best part of the centre is its title – interfaith. He believes that connecting the faiths in a positive way will lead to a much more vibrant faith community on campus.
There’s a positivity there with a shared relationship, with shared interests,” said Kung. “If we can grow together, then the whole department grows.”