Dedication ceremony promotes values of multi-faith center
An Oct. 21 ceremony in the Academic Village comes weeks before construction begins on the future Numen Lumen Pavilion.
Surrounding what will be the most sacred space on campus in the years ahead, a crowd of Elon University students, faculty, staff and trustees gathered Friday afternoon to dedicate the site of the Numen Lumen Pavilion, which will one day serve as home to a planned multi-faith center at the university.
The special afternoon ceremony featured students representing many of the world's faith traditions, sharing their hopes for what the multi-faith center will accomplish as a place for people of all religious traditions to express their beliefs.
Elon University President Leo M. Lambert welcomed guests to the program, which took part in the north end of the Academic Village. The crowd gathered along the edges of a circle spray-painted on the grass to show where the sacred space of the future pavilion will be.
In the middle of the circle rested a rock painted with Elon’s motto, “Numen Lumen,” Latin for “spiritual light” and “intellectual light.”
“As we come together today, let us imagine what is possible. Let us celebrate the spirit of all of the people circling this place,” said Lambert, citing charity, justice, hospitality, reconciliation and understanding as just some of the values the Numen Lumen Pavilion will represent. “Imagine the unending possibilities we can create at this university when we act on those values.”
As students took turns announcing the words selected to represent their faith, they stepped forward with smaller stones with those words painted on. Each of the smaller stones was placed around the “Numen Lumen” stone.
For Elon student Chali Temple, who represented Buddhists, the word Nirvana, or “enlightenment,” was the selected word for her stone. “By this we mean that we hope to bring happiness and self-contentment to those at Elon and hope to bring them closer to their Nirvana. We wish to experience enlightenment as a whole and coexisting amongst people of other religions,” she said. “We hope this Buddhist idea will encourage community learning, sharing of knowledge, and being faithful to one’s happiness through principles.”
Love. Namaste. Charity. Fellowship. Understanding. All were mentioned during the ceremony, which ended with the crowd reciting a Native American prayer.
The Numen Lumen Pavilion will be a place for prayer, meditation and reflection in the heart of campus. Affirming the university’s commitment to the development of mind, body and spirit and respect for differing religious and spiritual traditions, this multi-faith center will encourage campus dialogue and promote interfaith collaboration.
The two-story building will feature a circular sacred space adjoined by a multipurpose room, a meditation room, a classroom, meeting and study rooms, and offices of the Vera Richardson Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, which will relocate to the Numen Lumen Pavilion from its current location on East College Avenue. An outdoor meditation garden will be located between the Numen Lumen Pavilion and the Gray Pavilion.
Wood from trees that stood on the construction site will be used for some of the building's interior furnishings such as a small chapel altar or wall paneling. The start of construction is set November, with completion projected for December 2012.
The Numen Lumen Pavilion will be the final building in Elon's Academic Village, taking the spot on the west side of the quad next to the Gray Pavilion. Construction on the Academic Village began in 2001, with the first two pavilions, the Isabella Cannon International Studies Pavilion and the William R. Kenan Jr. Honors Pavilion opening in August 2002.