The newest building in the Academic Village is part of Elon's efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding.
Elon University students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests gathered Tuesday afternoon to dedicate the Numen Lumen Pavilion, the final addition to the Academic Village.
The dedication was held in the pavilion’s Sacred Space, a round, two-story room, adorned only by the light that flows in through many windows, that is open to any faith community on campus.
The Numen Lumen Pavilion, which opened in late February, is a place for prayer, meditation and reflection in the heart of campus. Its construction is part of Elon’s efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding.
Words of hope and blessing were shared Tuesday during the ceremony derived from the Southeast Asian and Buddhist tradition meant to honor our common bonds. During the dedication, participants held onto a red string meant to symbolize protection, blessing and connection.
Students representing Elon’s religious and spiritual life organizations along with spiritual life leaders and six distinguished guests, who later participated in Spring Convocation and a panel discussion about the need for multi-faith understanding in a complex world, offered brief blessings.
“Numen and Lumen, meaning ‘spiritual light’ and ‘intellectual light,’ serve as the university’s motto and signify the highest purpose of an Elon education,” Elon President Leo M. Lambert said to the crowd that filled both the Sacred Space and the adjoining McBride Gathering Space. “I believe the Numen Lumen Pavilion is appropriately named and is an opportunity for Elon to show national leadership in promoting religious and spiritual diversity and multi-faith dialogue and understanding.”
At the end of the ceremony, the red string was cut was so that everyone could leave with a piece of it as a reminder of common bonds. Many tied the string to their wrists.
“The red string we take with us will symbolize the bonds of blessing we share in this place, and the words, sentiments and traditions shared today,” said Chaplain Jan Fuller. “It will also remind us, like this Numen Lumen Pavilion, that when we work together, we are blessed and blessed again; that we must be the love we seek for this beautiful and dangerous world; and that the most impossible dreams can come true and will.”
The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society are located in Numen Lumen Pavilion. The building has a kitchen with two ends that easily separate for observance of kosher-style and halal food laws, ablution areas, prayer, mediation and study rooms, a library and a multipurpose room, the McBride Gathering Space, named to honor Chaplain Emeritus Richard McBride whose vision a decade ago helped make the building possible. The gathering space will be a setting for worship, receptions, meals and meetings.
Outside the building is a mediation garden with a Kugel ball fountain, a heavy granite ball that spins lubricated by a thin film of water, as well as rocks engraved with the words students offered at the site dedication: peace, agape, cooperation and understanding, healing the earth, koinonia, Namaste, nirvana, respect, oneness and charity.
“I believe there is untold good to be done through the purposes of the Numen Lumen Pavilion,” Lambert said. “The work will not be easy. Few things worth having in life are, but it is vital for the kind of world we envision for our children and grandchildren. It is here in the Numen Lumen Pavilion that we will plant the seed for peace and understanding and prepare our students at Elon to be forces for good in the world.”
Some of the special architectural features in the building include the floor in the Sacred Space, which is made of Jerusalem limestone, a water wall in the lobby and several pieces of furniture and shelving fashioned from the oak trees originally cut from the site in 2011.
The Numen Lumen Pavilion, located on the west side of the quad next to the Gray Pavilion, is the final building in Elon’s Academic Village. 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.