Christ religion

AD Bruce Religion Center meets the spiritual needs of students

Activities & Organizations

The AD Bruce Religion Center was built in 1965 to accommodate Christian and Jewish worshippers. However, the building now houses several religious organizations. |Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

The AD Bruce Religion Center was built in 1965 welcome Christians and Jews. However, the building now houses several religious organizations.

Rabbi Kenny Weiss is a UH faculty member and executive director of Houston Hillela Jewish university organization established in 1947. For the fall semester, Houston Hillel will host a weekly Tuesday lunch at the center, student office hours, and hold celebrations for major Jewish holidays.

Weiss said government departments that contributed financially to the building during construction maintain a permanent office there. Spaces are also available for student organizations upon request and approval. However, they are currently busy.

“There are a few spaces that are available on rotation,” says Weiss. “The Muslim Student Association has one of those spaces.”

The Muslim Students Association was established in 1964 to accommodate Muslim students on campus. The group organizes weekly events, including a weekly Friday prayer held at the Religion Center.

Belal Salama is president of the MSA and a chemical engineering student at UH. He explained that the MSA is a community where people from different backgrounds, cultures and levels of faith come together.

“The(Institutional Review Board) recently shared a document with us, and they estimated that the Muslim population on campus was around 10% (of the total number of students),” Salama said. “And I personally think it’s a lowball.”

The Reformed University Scholarship is a Christian student organization at the AD Bruce Religion Center. Kimmy Mota is a UH alumnus and RUF Houston campus staff member. She said that for the fall, the RUF-UH will have a meeting every Wednesday and weekly Bible studies.

“This semester (Wednesdays) we are doing a series of sermons on Jesus’ interactions with different people in the New Testament,” Mota said. “And we also form small groups that go through First Peter.”

As a religious organization, the AD Bruce Religion Center faces unique financial restrictions. The centre’s budget of approximately $220,000 remained unchanged in the new fiscal year beginning in September 2022.

André Adams is the director of the AD Bruce Religion Center. He explained in an email that most of the funding supports day-to-day operations and maintenance project expenses.

“The budget is limited and we have to be very thoughtful and intentional about the costs,” Adams said. “As an ancillary building, it’s important that we generate revenue (via bookings and services) to offset our building expenses.”

Adams also confirmed that none of the faith-based organizations are funded by UH. Instead, they must raise their funds through donations or their parent organizations.

Finally, all three groups interviewed shared the challenge of finding and retaining students. The MSA, in particular, as the organization struggled with the logistics of finding suitable prayer spaces to meet their religious needs.

“Whenever it’s time to pray and go over there (library basement), it almost becomes a security issue,” Salama said. “Between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. you would see maybe 200 to 250 people coming in and out trying to pray, and the space is not welcoming enough.”

[email protected]

Key words: AD Bruce Religion Center, campus, religion