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Introducing the Alice Cobb Interfaith House at Scarritt Bennett Center

By Dr. Jackie L. Halstead

I am pleased to announce an initiative that will begin in January 2015–the Alice Cobb Interfaith House. More than a location, the Alice Cobb Interfaith House will be both a context and catalyst for interfaith dialogue and community. The mission of the program is to embrace those who are interested in addressing spiritual formation and interfaith dialogue as integral parts of living an active life for justice with an emphasis on exploring the role of the arts.

Guiding Principles for the ACIH

 In 1988, Scarritt Bennett Center developed a set of guiding principles, which influenced the Center’s program development.  For the Alice Cobb Interfaith House at Scarritt Bennett Center, these guiding principles will shape the programming as the participants engage in communal and individual formation while committing to be an impetus for interfaith collaboration within the local, national, and international communities.

  • GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE:  Alice Cobb Interfaith House will foster the development of participants as global citizens who are civically engaged, culturally competent, and able to build bridges across faith differences. Leadership in interfaith dialogue will be a force in peacemaking and understanding worldwide.
  • SPIRITUAL VITALITY:  Practicing spiritual practices and disciplines brought by SBC staff and invited leaders from world faith communities, Alice Cobb Interfaith House will promote programs and initiatives that foster wellness and spirituality healthy practices, perspectives, and dialogue.
  • ECUMENICAL COMMITMENT:  Alice Cobb Interfaith House will create an ecumenical and interfaith environment, situated in Scarritt Bennett Center’s historically Christian identity. Providing opportunity for theological reflection on contemporary issues, Alice Cobb Interfaith House will promote the role of reflection as a critical process in interfaith leadership.
  • CHRISTIAN HOSPITALITY:  Maintaining an atmosphere conducive to renewal which appreciates beauty and affirms a humane pace in daily activity, Alice Cobb Interfaith House will seek to embody and reflect critically on the role of hospitality as an act of self-care and as a radical practice of inclusion.
  • RACIAL INCLUSIVENESS:  Alice Cobb Interfaith House will cultivate programming and community where persons of all races and ethnicities may worship and work together and where no person is denied opportunity because of racism.
  • CREATIVITY:  Maintaining high academic standards that employ a variety of medians, Alice Cobb Interfaith House will foster a community that is conducive to creative development for expression and critical consciousness.  Programming will seek to utilize experts in the creative arts (music, fine arts, language arts) to enhance interfaith dialogue, connection, and expression.

My goals for the program are two-fold. First, that it be a celebration of the unique aspects of each faith tradition. There are times when differences are diminished for the sake of collaboration. The offerings of this program will instead accent these differences and allow for a venue to show and teach what each faith tradition brings to the community. The second goal is that we are able to offering programming that comes from a deep place of faith. How does a person from each tradition live out their faith in Nashville and the world?

Keep an eye on our website for a calendar of events for the Alice Cobb Interfaith House. You will not want to miss them!

2012 JLH hirez

Jackie L. Halstead is the Director of Education, Programming and Connections at Scarritt Bennett Center. She holds certificates from two programs with the Shalem Institute–Spiritual Guidance and Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats and is a member of the Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani Abbey. Jackie has a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy and specializes in working with clergy and their families.