Western Nevada College held unique 1st Multi-faith Baccalaureate Service

CAPTION: Spiritual leaders offer a Universal Blessing Prayer at the Western Nevada College Multi-Faith Baccalaureate service at the Community Center in Carson City, Nev., on Monday, May 20, 2013. Photo by Cathleen Allison.

Western Nevada College (WNC) had unique Multi-faith Baccalaureate Service on May 20 in Carson City (USA), first in its 41 plus years of existence.

According to distinguished religious statesman Rajan Zed, co-organizer of this Service along with Douglas Diversity Student Club of WNC; faith leaders belonging to Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Native American traditions blessed the graduates with their respective prayers in this Service. Dance and music also formed part of this ceremony and a representative of non-believers also addressed the Service.

Religious leaders who participated included Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Community Carson City Pastor Father Charles T. Durante, Carson City 1st United Methodist Church Pastor Reverend Dixie Jennings-Teats, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Seventy Member George Marion Keele, Northern Nevada Muslim Community President Doctor Sherif A. Elfass, Universal Society of Hinduism President Rajan Zed, Reno Buddhist Center Priest Reverend Jikai’ Phil Bryan, South Lake Tahoe Temple Bat Yam Rabbi Evon J. Yakar, Baha’i teacher Catherine B. Thayer, and Paiute Elder Ralph E. Burns. Patrick J. McCarthy from Reno Freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, etc., promoting secular values) also addressed Service held at Carson City Community Center.

Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall and Carson City Mayor Robert L. Crowell also rendered advice to the graduates on the occasion and WNC President Doctor Carol A. Lucey was also present. Acclaimed classical musician from India Thakur Chakrapani Singh, prominent dancer Doctor L. Martina Young, well known area musician Jim R. Eaglesmith and tabla expert Pete Fairley also blessed the graduating class through their respective mediums. Starting with traditional lamp lighting, it also included a choir performance titled “Benediction” directed by James M. Weismann. It closed with diverse faith and other leaders, with their raised right hands, jointly repeating a universal prayer after Douglas Diversity Student Club of WNC Secretary Jesseca Pacheco Larios, thus blessing graduates present and in absentia.

Rajan Zed, who is an interfaith leader, pointed out that purpose of this Baccalaureate Service was to root the graduating class in divine spiritual tradition so that they would have a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success. There were plans to make it an annual feature, Zed added.

Baccalaureate service basically means service where a sermon is delivered to the graduating class. In use since at least eighth century, origins of the baccalaureate service point to an Oxford University statute of 1432, which required each bachelor to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of the academic exercise.There is restored interest in baccalaureate services in number of educational institutions across USA, likePrinceton, Stanford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, etc.

WNC, with tagline “Start Here, Go Anywhere” and multiple campuses, is a comprehensive community college that serves over 5,000 students in about 18,000-square-miles area. Mission Statement of WNC includes “nurtures individual potential and respects differences”, which is known for its observatory.


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