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Interfaith Service Initiative

The COVE is working closely with the Office of the Chaplains to develop and coordinate an Interfaith Service Initiative in response to President Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge.
Students share an interfaith meal at the Saperstein Jewish Center.


Our goal is to have a long-term impact on campus by increasing the number of Colgate students both engaged in service and engaging one another in intentional conversations about their beliefs and values. We hope to inspire students to reach across their differences to find common ground in their daily lives – both at Colgate and beyond.

Interfaith Service Trip to Germany

We are currently planning an interfaith service trip to Gottingen, Germany, for the summer of 2013. The goal of this trip is to bring together students of diverse belief systems to bond over service, and to foster these students' commitment to interfaith literacy.

Stay tuned for additional details, or contact the COVE at for more information.

Past Programming

Initially, work centered on domestic poverty and educational opportunity, but as the initiative has gained momentum, it has expanded to conduct programs such as the following:
  • A volunteer trip to the Johnson Park Community Center, a place that promotes positive change in the heart of Cornhill (the poorest neighborhood in the City of Utica, New York)
  • Disaster relief efforts following flooding in central New York following hurricanes Irene and Leigh
  • A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day lunch conversation on interfaith service
  • A movie screening of Flow with an ensuing discussion of the importance of clean water across many belief systems
  • A 10-hour fast culminating in a conversation about hunger
  • And, a meeting with interfaith activists Georg and Wilma Iggers

Student Experiences

Matthew Knowles '15
"The experience [of volunteering in Johnson Park Community Center in Utica, N.Y.] opened my eyes to the poverty and suffering of people, not only in the city of Utica, but in the entirety of upstate New York as well. As an interfaith community, we discussed the implications of this poverty and what our faiths, or lack thereof (I am an agnostic), oblige us to do about it. As a result, I plan to do research next summer on what political policy changes would be most effective to alleviate this poverty and promote education throughout the state. It is for these reasons that the interfaith community at Colgate University has had an undeniably positive influence on not only my experience here, but the entire community."
Students gather around a colorful signboard they created for the Hamilton Center for the Arts
Christopher Donnelly '15
[When hurricanes Irene and Leigh hit the upstate New York community, students involved in the interfaith initiative decided to take action.]

I do not believe that all religions are the same, because I have absolutely seen differences between them. But through interfaith service and discussion, I have seen people come together, and have seen so many ways in which our religions preach similar messages. Don’t tell me that people of different religions are just too different to work together; I’ve seen it, and it’s beautiful.