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Office for Institutional Diversity

BRIEFING

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PROFILE IN DIVERSITY

Howard McLendon, Interfaith Campus Minister

Howard McLendon

Boston College is “much more attuned to its spiritual dimensions” than it was back in 1971, when the Rev. Howard McLendon ’75 arrived on campus as an undergraduate recruited by the Black Talent Program. The University in those days felt as secular as Boston State (now Umass Boston) or Boston University, says McLendon, now an interfaith campus minister who collaborates with the Office for Institutional Diversity to enhance what he says is a far richer spiritual environment today. 

A former pastor of Cambridge’s Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church, McLendon returned to his alma mater in 1992 as a part-time consultant to the football team, helping minister to the growing number of players from different faith traditions. From that his job expanded and evolved  to working with black students, with Protestant students, to his current work with ecumenical groups. He now oversees 11 religious student groups‑—including the Buddhism Club at BC, the Muslim Student Association, Hillel, and Episcopal Eagles—as well as interfaith programs.  

“Sometimes, our non-Catholic students feel their spiritual formation is not as important as that of Catholic students,” says Office for Institutional Diversity executive director Richard Jefferson. The office collaborates with McLendon on efforts to address that concern, co-sponsoring events such as “Inviting the Spirit of Wisdom,” an annual interfaith companion service to the fall semester Mass of the Holy Spirit; the Multi-Faith Thanksgiving Celebration; and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Gathering.

“As students come to college and have a bit of freedom and economy, they are frequently searching and attempting to put all the faith and God talk they have heard—and continue to hear at Boston College—into perspective,“ says McLendon. “There’s a need for them to own their faith, and to understand its relevance and the role it plays in their lives.”

Tim Czerwienski