The Sacred Sites Quest is a yearlong program for youth in grades 8–12. During the fall, students visit a series of selected sacred sites across Houston, and then in the spring, they create a collaborative capstone art and service project.
Sacred Sites Quest (SSQ) is an educational outreach program for high school students. The program aims to:
• Nurture interfaith relationships among a group of 8th–12th graders of different faiths and no faith
• Enhance the religious and interfaith literacy of these participants:
There are two main parts of the SSQ experience:
• A series of visits to various places of worship in and around Houston (mostly to observe religious services in process).
• A collaborative art and service project that allows SSQ participants to leave a permanent legacy and a creative public expression of their adventures and learning together.
Participants form relationships with peers who have beliefs different from their own. This allows them to expand their sense of community, while also improving their religious and interfaith literacy. Past participants report learning many new things—and having lots of fun in the process.
“Our SSQ’ers develop a keen appreciation of—perhaps even a reverence for—what makes a space sacred,” explains Mike Pardee, associate director for community engagement. But the learning goes beyond increasing their religious, theological, and architectural knowledge. “The students return from their SSQ with entirely new eyes and cross-cultural understandings,” Pardee says. “And they also build relationships and even forge some enduring friendships with people they probably wouldn’t otherwise have met.”
Reginald Adams, a public artist, has co-directed the first four SSQs with Pardee. “We seek—and achieve—some truly transformational, carefully targeted spiritual and aesthetic outcomes from this unique program,” he says. “Both the process and the product of the SSQ yield distinctive rewards of their own.”
The Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance
6100 Main, Houston, Texas 77005-1892 | Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1892, Houston, Texas 77251-1892