With an undying love and passion for equality and the celebration of faith, the staff and visitors of the Wilson Center sit down for a cup of tea.
Every Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., a group of people gathers around a coffee table with mugs of tea in their hands, and discusses spiritual topics that spark debate and rousing conversation. With an informal setting and a chance to share thoughts, beliefs and ideas, the weekly event “SpiritualiTEA” gives people a chance to delve into the spiritual and multifaith world in which we live, and has been doing so for three and a half years.
“I feel blessed to be a part of this group. We have lovely and thought-provoking discussions in an informal setting, and I look forward to it every week,” Graduate Assistant Sonja Birthisel said.
Along with holding discussions and informal events such as SpiritualiTEA, the Wilson Center for Spiritual Exploration and Multifaith Dialogue also hosts many dinners, events and festivities throughout the year to bring students to the center. The main goal of the center is to draw in students and other people located in Orono, and give them a place where they can discuss their views and faith openly in a safe environment. Through worship, community service, studies of religious texts, discussions and celebrations, the center hopes to offer a safe environment for spiritual growth.
Besides the weekly SpiritualiTEA discussions, the center also has a weekly dinner and discussion on Wednesday nights. On Wednesday, Sept. 20, the free dinner and art night was held in honor of the International Day of Peace which took place on Sept. 21. Members of the group made kindness stones and decorated rocks that are left in random places to inspire others and spread peace, love and compassion throughout the community.
“During Wednesday dinners, it is usually a discussion based talk with 20-30 members of the community. Sometimes we do things like Tarot card readings or meditation, it’s just a chance to bring everyone together and bond over our shared love for faith and equality,” Anthony Elkins, a member, said. “We also have a more formal dinner once a month called the Come to the Table Event. This is sponsored by some of the local on-campus organizations such as the Muslim Student Association, and it is just an in-depth discussion centered around a pre-determined topic.”
Many of the regulars who circulate the Wilson Center are from the University of Maine, and students as well as other members can rent out the space for festivities, religious ceremonies and other activities. In order to spread the word about upcoming events and activities, the center relies on social media, flyers, posters and advertisements to get students out to the center.
“I’m always surprised to see fresh new faces show up to the dinners and events at the beginning of every semester,” Elkins said. “This place is very dear to my heart, I don’t think you could find such an interesting group of people or a more welcoming community. Everyone here is looking to connect with each other and we make a close-knit family.”
The Wilson Center has been around since the 1950s. In early 2000s, the center started to change into the multifaith cultural community center. To find out more about the Wilson Center, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://umaine.edu/wilsoncenter/