The Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. Campus Christian Center

African-American Religion and Spirituality

The Campus Christian Center designed and began its Jubilee Program in 2001, to serve the larger educational purpose of the College, especially with reference to two major features of the school’s Mission: (1) the commitment “[t]o stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others”; and (2) the commitment  “[t]o assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites.”  With the Jubilee Program, the Center contributes to fulfilling these two dimensions of the school’s mission through its focus on African-American forms of Christian worship and spirituality.

The term “jubilee” comes from a biblical text in which God addresses Moses: “ ‘You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants.  It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family’ ” (Leviticus 25:10 [New American Standard Version]).  This text from the Hebrew scriptures supplies the name of the Jubilee Program, because the program aims to address the distinctive experiences of African-American students that have arisen from the history of African-Americans in the United States.

With this program, the Campus Christian Center responds to the needs of African-American students for styles and forms of worship in their own religious and cultural traditions.  In addition to serving the needs of African-American students for support in their religious traditions, the Jubilee Program also serves to educate the larger College community, building bridges of understanding among different groups of people about both shared values and cultural differences.  For these reasons, the Campus Christian Center welcomes everyone to the events of the Jubilee Program.

The Jubilee Program, often working with the Black Music Ensemble, the Black Cultural Center and the Department of African and African-American Studies, provides events of worship in the traditions of the African-American churches.  These events occur in the form of traditional worship-services, but also in the form of “rap-sessions,” workshops, seminars, and spiritual retreats on various issues of faith and spirituality in African-American communities.  The Campus Christian Center invites many local African-American scholars, ministers, and teachers to lead the various events of the Program.  Often, students themselves will lead worship through music, testimony, and preaching as well.

Various events in the Jubilee Program occur throughout the academic year.  Although originally the Center planned for Jubilee events to occur two times each month in the evenings, gradually the frequency and times for these worship experiences have changed.  Once a month, the Center plans a Jubilee Worship Experience during worship on Tuesday at noon in Danforth Chapel.  Jubilee Bible Studies occur on a bi-weekly basis in the Fireside Room of the Danforth Chapel Complex in the Draper Building.  The Campus Christian Center also plans other special Jubilee events throughout the year.

Rev. Gloria Johnson, one of three College Chaplains in the Campus Christian Center, has primary responsibility for working with the department to conceive, propose, design, and plan events and activities under the auspices of the Jubilee Program.  She also serves as the primary person to contact for information about this program.

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