Alternative Break program combines interfaith work and the environment

Students engage in the overlap of interfaith work and environmentalism with local communities during Kernodle Alternative Spring Break Trip.

The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life once again paired with the Kernodle Center for Civic Life’s Alternative Spring Break programs to offer an Interfaith break trip this March.

Student leaders Emerson Wells ’23 and Brittney Hope ’23 developed the trip as part of a service-learning course under the leadership of Kyle Anderson, assistant director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. Both Wells and Hope explored the overlap of interfaith and environmentalism within their Multifaith Internship at the Truitt Center. Wells also serves as an Eco-rep through the Office of Sustainability.

“The program was a reminder of what it means to cultivate space and community, something I feel many are struggline with during this pandemic,” Wells said

The trip included service components and opportunities to engage with local communities active in sustainability efforts and spirituality. Multifaith Coordinator Allison Pelyhes, and Assistant Director of Sustainability for Education and Outreach Kelly Harer joined the students for the two-day program.

The program was a reminder of what it means to cultivate space and community, something I feel many are struggling with during this pandemic.
— Emerson Wells ’23

On Saturday, March 20, students celebrated the Spring Solstice with Way of Belonging, a nonprofit working “to restore and strengthen personal, relational, cultural, and ecological bonds” in Hillsborough. The students engaged in eco-spirituality and participated in creating an altar for the solstice. Afterward, students participated in various building, farming, and handiwork projects at Common Ground Eco-village in Mebane. Common Ground Eco-village is an agrarian intentional community that is regenerative, collaborative, creative and celebratory and was co-founded by Elon Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Environmental Studies Anthony Weston. 

The next day, students met with Rev. Allen Brimer at Farm Church in Durham. Farm Church is a Presbyterian community whose mission is to gather a Christ-centered community that seeks to leverage all the resources of a farm to address food insecurity in the community. Students engaged with the community in worship via zoom in the morning and joined Rev. Allen to lay water lines on the Church’s farm plot.

Student leader, Emerson Wells ’23, offered the following thoughts about the program:

“As part of the “Interfaith and the Environment” Alternative Break Program, we explored the intersections of interfaith work and environmentalism, including examining how different spiritual or religious practices related to agriculture, public health, and climate change.

“Going into this Alternative Break Program, I was nervous that I had not adequately prepared and would not provide students with the experience they signed up for. However, the weekend went better than I could have hoped,” Wells said. “I felt so much passion, joy, and love from the partners we worked with for the work they were doing. It was energizing, and I believe everyone that was a part of the program felt that energy. As someone who works for both the Truitt Center for Spiritual and Religious Life and the Office of Sustainability, this program was a culmination of the work I have done this academic year and I am so grateful I got to share that with my peers.”

For more information about Interfaith at Elon please visit or read student’s experiences at

Learn more about the Alternative Break program at Elon by visiting the Kernodle Center for Civic Life’s webpage here.