The University is a religiously diverse community and our policies and procedures at the Interfaith Chapel honor the spirit of that diversity. We strive to be both “multi-faith” and “interfaith,” meaning that we honor each tradition in its uniqueness and particularity while also celebrating the diversity and the challenges and opportunities that diversity brings by forming an intentional, interfaith community in the chapel and the campus at large.

Foundational Principles Guiding Community Life at the Interfaith Chapel

  1. The University of Rochester’s Interfaith Chapel is home to the religions of the world. It serves as “an house of prayer for all peoples.” It is both a place for the practice of all faith traditions and a religious and spiritual center that supports interreligious learning, dialogue and action. The Interfaith Chapel provides resources and opportunities for religious and spiritual life to flourish on campus serving students, faculty, staff and the larger community. The Interfaith Chapel contributes through its programs and activities to the mission of the University to educate students and prepare them for life in a pluralistic and diverse world.
  2. All religious and/or spiritual groups are welcome. Each group is expected to have a chaplain or other religious or group leader (appointed by the religious or spiritual group or by the University) and a student leader, both of whom are asked to agree in writing to comply with the chapel’s statement of policies of affiliation and the Communal Expectations for Religious Life (see below) to ensure a clear understanding of the University’s expectations for its religious and spiritual groups. All recognized groups and their recognized leaders are expected to abide by these policies and communal expectations for life in a multi-faith community.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Interfaith Chapel, which all religious and spiritual groups affiliated with the chapel support, is as follows:

  • To enhance religious and spiritual life at the University through supporting the affiliated religious communities in their mission to serve members of their particular faith tradition
  • To provide a place of worship, hospitality, and welcome for all members of the University community
  • To raise ethical and moral issues of the day within the University community
  • To serve as a reconciling agency within the University community
  • To serve as an advocate and support for individuals within the University community
  • To provide a structure for facilitating communication and understanding
    • Between the various University offices and departments and the many religious and/or spiritual groups represented on campus
    • Among religious and/or spiritual groups at the University
  • To promote interreligious dialogue, education and action
  • To reach out to and serve the larger, general community

Formation of Religious Groups on Campus 

Students who wish to form a religious or spiritual group must abide by the policies and procedures for student groups as prescribed by the Student Activities Office. The Director of Religious and Spiritual Life often serves as initial advisor to newly forming religious and spiritual groups. On a space-available basis, religious and spiritual groups hold their regular meetings in the Interfaith Chapel. If the chapel is unavailable for a student religious or spiritual group, that group may then ask for meeting space in other venues on campus.

The religious and spiritual communities currently affiliated with the Interfaith Chapel are as follows:

  • Buddhist Students’ Association
  • The Catholic Newman Community
  • The Protestant Chapel Community (PCC)
  • Hillel
  • Chabad
  • University of Rochester Christian Fellowship (URCF)
  • CRU
  • Zen Meditation Group
  • Muslim Students’ Association (both undergraduate and graduate MSAs)
  • Hindu Students’ Association
  • Student Association for Interfaith Cooperation

The Newman Community, PCC, Hillel, Chabad and CRU communities are served by full-time chaplains. URCF, the Hindu Students Association, the Asian Christian Community, the Muslim community and the Zen Meditation Group are all served by part-time chaplains or religious leaders. The remaining groups are primarily student groups under the advisement of the director and chapel administrator.

Religious Holidays

Arts, Sciences and Engineering policy and practice are that classes not to be dismissed on religious holidays. It is expected, however, that students will not be penalized in any way for observing religious holidays. Instructors are asked not to schedule examinations in conflict with such holidays. See the religious holiday’s page for a list of holidays.

New York State Education Law provides that students who choose not to attend classes or take exams on certain days because of their religious beliefs will be given an equivalent opportunity to make up the work requirements or exams they miss without penalties.

Religious Recruitment

(Excerpts from A Guide to Making Safe Judgments About Groups on Campus)

While you are a student on this campus many organizations may ask you to join them. The great majority of these groups are well meaning and constructive, whether they are religious, self-improvement, service, social or political in nature. In addition, there are many individuals and groups on campus who would like to share their “ideas” with you. Often these ideas include values and beliefs they hold about the world around them. They may approach you after class, in your residence hall, in front of Wilson Commons, or elsewhere. In addition to sharing with you the answers they have found to life’s questions, they may seek to enlist your time, energy and resources in endeavors they believe to be worthwhile. In short, they may ask you to join their groups and make substantial contributions of time and money to their causes.

Although it is healthy for groups to further their causes and recruit new members, some groups use recruiting tactics that are deceitful, manipulative and coercive. The following questions are designed to help you assess a group that seeks your commitment. The questions could apply not only when you are being recruited, but also after you have been involved for some time.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What commitments of time, money and other resources will they expect from me?
  • Would I be assigned recruiting or financial quotas?
  • Would they discourage me from associating with family and friends?
  • What will I gain from being a member of this group? How does that fit with my own goals and ideas?

Does the group...

  • Encourage you to continue your studies, to succeed academically and to graduate, or does the group say that its activities are more important than school?
  • Answer the questions that you ask, or are you told repeatedly that the answers will come later?
  • Discourage discussion of its beliefs, either with other members or with your family or friends?
  • Want its members to give up traditions and beliefs?
  • Require absolute obedience and devotion to its leader?
  • Allow members to have quiet times alone or time with other friends outside the group?
  • Predict tragedy will befall anyone who leaves the group?

If you responded yes to any of these questions, you may want to discuss this with the resource individuals listed below:

Director of Religious and Spiritual Life: (585) 275-8422
International Services Office: (585) 275-2866
University Counseling Center: (585) 275-3113