The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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The house that God built

Worship, friendship and inspiration all unite at the Canterbury House
 The house that God built
The house that God built

The house that God built

Nestled among lofty trees and tucked behind Dallas Hall resides the Canterbury House. Preserved in the modest 1920’s style, this house has witnessed the laughter, concerns, strength, humility and hopes of generations of SMU students for the last 50 years.

The Canterbury House is home to the Episcopal Ministry on campus. Although somewhat weathered through the years, the house’s atmosphere remains full of life. For half a century, this well kept secret has been a beacon of spiritual hope as well as a home away from home for many SMU students.

“[The Canterbury House] appeals to a lot of people because it looks like a house,” said Martha Schattman, a former SMU student. “And, because of the nature of our community, our group dynamic, it feels a lot like a family. You come in, to come home.”

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the center is a refuge for students to pray, study and simply relax. Stocked with a kitchen, TV room, library, outdoor patio and friendly faces, the Canterbury House has all the amenities and comforts of home.

“It’s a very nurturing and open community,” said junior religious studies major Ryan Hart. “I was always greeted with a smile.”

The Canterbury House offers unique worship opportunities for students. Once a month, the house holds a worship service including music and meditation based on worship rituals of the Monastery of Taize. A portion of the service is devoted to reading scripture in as many languages as possible to acknowledge a global community and understanding in Christ. Every Sunday evening, a casual Mass takes place followed by a free dinner. Bible studies, planned by students, are held throughout the week.

“In a way, I see it as a lab church,” said Rev. Barbara Kelton, chaplain of the center. “I think part of the unique thing that we offer here is a chance to really try out things. They’re a part of everything that goes on.”

Members are also involved in outreach activities. In the past, they have worked with Cathedral Gardens, Austin Street Shelter and Habitat for Humanity. More recently, the group assisted the Youth Service Opportunities Project, an organization that provides shelters, soup kitchens and welfare agencies to the homeless of New York City. They also managed to make a guest appearance on The Today Show.

Between services and retreats, the group prides itself on its frequent practice of theological discussion, where, as Schattman said, “you can engage your mind without endangering your soul.” Members debate religious questions from the trinity to church doctrine, as well as more heated topics such as cloning, sexuality, euthanasia, and even the current controversy surrounding the Catholic Church and whether they need a new Canterbury House.

“This particular building is over 80 years old and is constant need of repair,” Schattman said. “We’ve often had the fantasy discussion of if we were to bulldoze this building tomorrow, what would we build in its place?”

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