How Our Campus Came to Be by Rev. Vicky L. Eastland
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord…. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. ~ Psalm 27:13,14
Rev. Vicky L. Eastland
It was a cloudy, misty afternoon in November as the faith leaders and congregants stood on the front lawn. The year was 2013; we were gathered to dedicate a new sign, to pray together and to celebrate.
The Muslim call to prayer called the Adhan, was heard over a loud speaker announcing it was time for prayer. The call to prayer was chanted in Arabic and a hush fell on those gathered, along with a sense of the divine in our midst.
Just fourteen months earlier, I had become the new pastor of Brookville Reformed Church. I arrived only knowing about the Interfaith Community of Long Island (IFC) who had just chosen our campus as their permanent home. The church’s search team had allowed the Jewish (Pam Gawley) and Christian (Sarah Cirker) co-chairs of the IFC to lead my second interview. During that interview it became clear that the role of the new pastor would not only be to shepherd the Christian congregation, but also to help integrate interfaith families into the life of the church. These were families where one parent was Jewish, and one was Christian. They were longing to raise their children with a love and respect of both faith traditions.
Shortly after arriving at Brookville Church, I discovered a new faith community had joined us as well. It was The New Synagogue of Long Island and this Jewish synagogue was formed by Rabbi Stuart Paris to help meet the spiritual needs of the interfaith families of the IFC. It became clear to me that we were developing into a dual-faith home for interfaith families; a place they could worship together as both Christians and Jews.
Then to my surprise and amazement, I learned the Muslim Reform Movement Organization, facilitated by Dr. Sultan Abdulhameed, had been holding weekly Quran studies at Brookville Church for at least the last decade.
Once I began to get to know both Dr. Sultan and Rabbi Paris, I realized that all three of us had a shared vision; to bring reform to our respective faith traditions and build bridges of peace between world religions. Once we began developing friendships with one another, it was a natural progression to come together for occasional shared worship and learning opportunities. Thus, the Brookville Multifaith Campus was birthed.
Pam Gawley shared with me that she had a vision that one day there would be a place where all religions would come together, share space and serve the community. She envisioned office space in the same building for the clergy of each religion, who would interact on a daily basis. From this grew a desire deep in my heart to make what we had been doing into an official non-profit organization.
Over the next seven years I worked hard at making that dream come to fruition. We had many leadership gatherings where we dreamed of what we could become and the ways we could grow and serve together. There were times over the years where it seemed we were getting close to actually becoming a not-for-profit organization, but road blocks kept getting in the way.
Psalm 27:13 says, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord.” There were many days over these last seven years where I didn’t feel confident that we would see the goodness of the Lord. Many days I was discouraged and wondered where God was in this whole process. Was it really God’s vision that the Brookville Multifaith Campus become an organization and that our mission continue?
Many told me that the official status didn’t matter because we were already functioning as a multifaith campus. But I felt I had heard from the Lord that we were called to become a registered non-profit and have the legitimacy of that status within the U.S.
God’s voice came through in Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” I know everything is in God’s timing and that all good things come to those who wait. I needed to put my trust in the God who had instilled this vision into my heart and called me to Brookville. So, I waited and prayed and waited some more. And like God always does, God came through!
Last year things started to work themselves out and a board formed that would help kickstart this vision into reality. Following, came the hiring of a lawyer who specialized in helping organizations become nonprofit entities and he helped the board fill out and file the necessary paperwork.
On February 20, 2020 the Brookville Multifaith Campus became an official not-for-profit organization!
I want to thank everyone who has believed in this vision over the years and has played a role in helping make this happen. I believe that God has many great things yet in store for Brookville Multifaith Campus and I am now confident in this; we will continue to see the goodness of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!