The United Religious Ministry (URM) began in 1965 and was initiated by the University’s founder, Dr. Bonnie Cone, shortly after Charlotte College became the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The URM was established as an incorporated service organization and its members were comprised of appointed representatives of various religious groups that sought membership through their own initiative as well as interested staff and faculty members. One of their first endeavors was working on a Habitat for Humanity house. This group also offered religious programs and services to the students and assisted in times of crisis as needed for the university community.
The United Religious Ministries was housed within the Office of Religious Affairs (ORA), (now named Religious & Spiritual Life (RSL)), which was manned by a volunteer director and later, a part time assistant. The director met regularly with the URM membership and relayed its activities to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Bonnie Cone appointed Loy Witherspoon (now professor emeritus) as URM/ORA's first director and he served many years in this capacity in addition to teaching full time in the Religious Studies department. Then, for a period of about 10 years, the directorship-- and supervision of the assistant, was rotated among department heads within the Student Affairs Division until July 2007, when Religious and Spiritual Life was renamed and placed under the Multicultural Resource Center. Sherry Bruce has been the assistant for the office since December 2000 (and wrote this summary).
There were active plans and intentions of constructing a United Religious Ministry building during the early years. But, with the retirement of Chancellor Colvard, the vision had not been a priority for the next administrations. In the spring of 2003, when Dr. Cone passed away, there was renewed interest in the building of what is now being called The Meditation Center. The site designated for the building is located in the Van Landingham Gardens behind Fretwell and at the corner of Mary Alexander and Van Landingham Glen. Because of her love for the University and her never ending desire for this building to come to fruition, Bonnie requested to be buried on this site. Feel free stop by and give your respects.
While there is currently no active campaign for the Meditation Center, architectural drawings that were done in 2000 are available in the RSL office if you would like to see them. A large donation from a private donor (or donors) is needed for this project to become viable again. Interested persons should contact the Office of University Development, 230 Cato Hall, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223-0001, Phone: (704) 687-7211, Fax: (704) 687-3362, Email: email@example.com.
URM’s constitution was developed in 1975. It was revised in 1981, in 1997, and in 2004. The name was changed to the Inter-Religious Council (IRC) in 1997 and the constitution was then called by-laws. The major change regarded the membership: It became an association of individuals, not groups. Whereas campus ministers representing their registered student organizations primarily comprised the panel from the University’s inception until 1997, now any interested individual in the University community could participate in the Inter-Religious Council. Funds for the IRC's projects originally came from the campus ministers' sending organizations. With the constitution change in 1997, that practice effectively ended.
Whereas URM's primary purpose was to advance the cause of the Meditation Center, the IRC focused on developing and maintaining a cooperative and non-threatening environment of understanding, mutual respect, and meaningful interaction between all faith groups on campus. It sought equal representation from any and all faiths so as to make it most effective for its designed purposes. The IRC encouraged interfaith communication and sponsored common goal projects and educational events for and with the university community.
In January 2009, the Inter-Religious Council disbanded, in large part because Religious and Spiritual Life has gained significance in that it has been awarded programming dollars and can provide many of the same opportunities for religious and spiritual education that the IRC strove to do with volunteers and dwindling funds. And, Religious and Spiritual Life's inclusion within the Multicultural Resource Center (July 2007) enhances the campus's appreciation of the diversity of the faith organizations. RSL continues to support and promote programs and endeavors of the religious and spiritual student organizations and community events as well.
RSL was housed in the King building for many years, but moved to the Student Union, 220A, in the spring of 2010. Call us at 704-687-5471 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.