Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Finding a religious group in Walla Walla

It’s difficult to walk more than a few blocks in Walla Walla without coming across several small churches.
But how difficult is it really to find a religious community in Walla Walla?

“I haven’t had a hard time finding a [religious] community here, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much for people who aren’t Christians,” said Whitman first year Faith Tucker.

The majority of students seemed to share Tucker’s opinion.

While Whitman’s recent spirituality room in the basement of Prentiss and Stuart Religious Counselor, Adam Kirtley seek to support the spiritual needs of students, the larger Walla Walla community lacks resources for those who don’t identify as Christian.

And even then, it can be difficult to find a church that feels right.

“Within the Christian realm there are plenty of possibilities, but they’re to one extreme or another.   It’s hard to find a good middle ground,” said Tucker.

The local phonebook lists some a number of churches in Walla Walla and College Place alone.   On the other hand, Temple Beth Israel, the lone synagogue in town, does not have a full-time rabbi.   The nearest mosque is in Pullman, over two hours away, the closest Buddhist temple is in Spokane, and the closest Hindu temple is in the Portland area.

Whitman tries to provide students with networking for religious groups, and lists eight different religious groups on the school Website.

“Whitman does a fine job of accepting religious community by allowing groups, giving them space, and providing resources, but without actively taking initiative to produce, encourage or extend religious communities, which is good, because I’m not sure that would be appropriate,” said Tucker.

Yet many minority religions still don’t have the numbers for a very active community on campus.

Despite the campus religious resources, many students feel the need to find religious groups outside of campus.

“I was brought up without any real religious community, so coming here I was surprised there were religious communities to get involved in,” said sophomore Krystina Andrews, who attends both Catholic and Protestant services in Walla Walla and is involved with Whitman Christian Fellowship and Catholics on Campus.

“Being Jewish in Walla Walla sucks,” said sophomore Brennan Jorgeson.

“Walla Walla is definitely not the epicenter of Judiasm, but the community that is here is really nice, and really encouraging,” said junior Shayna Tivona.

“It’s always good to have some good Jews to celebrate with,” said Tivona.

“The benefits of being involved in a religious community for me have been questioning and strengthening my faith. And I think that having people to talk to about something you believe in is really important in college years especially,” said Andrews.

“By attending church in Walla Walla I feel much more involved in the community and less like I’m on some strange liberal arts island. Reconnecting with my religious roots has really saved me from overextending myself and having insincere interactions with people,” said senior James Millikan, by e-mail. “I would encourage all Whitman students to become more active and informed about faith and religion, and not to be afraid (although not being overbearing) to share their faith with others.”

Students also note that a traditional community isn’t necessary for all spiritual benefits.

“I haven’t really looked for [religious community] that much, because in a lot of ways it Unitarianism is a very individual religion…I don’t feel like I need to go to church to be spiritual,” said first-year Elizabeth Thompson.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *