The Boniuk Center’s Sacred Sites Quest (SSQ) is one of our signature programs for high school students. Its aim is to enhance religious literacy, promote interfaith dialogue, collaboration and tolerance, and to enable participants to leave a creative legacy as a permanent public artistic expression of the SSQers’ adventures together.
The 2011 SSQ was co-sponsored by the Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance and the Museum of Cultural Arts Houston (MOCAH
). Rice University’s Boniuk Center is dedicated to nurturing tolerance among people of all and no faiths, especially youth, and to studying the conditions in which tolerance and intolerance flourish. MOCAH’s mission is to use public art and creativity as tools for educational enrichment, social awareness and community development.
The SSQ entails site visits to a series of selected sacred spaces and places of worship in and around Houston. A complete list of the sacred sites visited by the 2011 SSQ is available here
“Our questers thus develop a keen appreciation of—perhaps even a reverence for—what makes a space sacred,” explains Boniuk executive director, Mike Pardee. But the learning for SSQers participating in the quest transcends increasing their religious, theological or architectural knowledge.
It also produces some less tangible benefits—including fun, Pardee notes: “For the students return from their SSQ with entirely new eyes and cross-cultural understandings. And they also build relationships and even forge some enduring friendships with people they probably wouldn’t otherwise have met.”
for some comments by students who participated in the 2011 SSQ. Photo albums of selected site visits and some brief video clips of SSQers in action are also available on our Boniuk Center Facebook page here
Reginald Adams, the President and CEO of MOCAH, co-directed the 2011 SSQ with Mike Pardee. “We seek—and achieve—some transformational, carefully targeted spiritual and aesthetic outcomes from this unique program,” Adams observes.
One of these was the collaborative mural that the students produced at the end of the quest. This four-paneled piece of art synthesized their learning and explorations together over the course of their dozen site visits. So “both the process and the product of the SSQ yield distinctive rewards of their own,” Adams concludes.
The four-paneled 2011 SSQ capstone mural was installed on the front of the Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (IMGH) building at 3217 Montrose Blvd. (77006). The mural was unveiled at the SSQ’s closing celebration and dedication ceremony on Sunday, May 15th.