Recognizing a shortcoming in religious literacy among the general public, SSI’s founder, Suzanne Morgan, saw a need to improve this literacy and decided to do this using her expertise in religious architecture. She believed that architecture, a non-verbal language, would contribute a new perspective to interfaith education. In 2014, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention came to Chicago and Suzanne participated with a presentation called the Architecture of Faith: A Global Interreligious Pilgrimage. Besides giving this presentation at the Chicago AIA Convention, she also presented it in Salt Lake City the next year for the Parliament of the World’s Religions— the largest interfaith organization. Noticing growing interest with the public, Suzanne looked for a way to expand the presentation into several sessions.
The overall purpose of the Architecture of Faith is to offer a comprehensive overview of the world’s faiths, where and how they began, and how they are related to one another geographically. By learning about the original architecture, one can understand the religious constructions in our own time in a more integrated way and also identify the common thread of the sacred that runs through all of them. Moreover, through appreciation of the uniqueness of each religion’s architecture, one can come to embrace people of other religious traditions.
The Architecture of Faith presentation is now being expanded into a four-session lecture series during Sunday mornings in the fall. Suzanne Morgan will deliver these lectures as part of the Academy for Faith and Life at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. This series aims to convey how architecture is informed by faith practices and will cover ancient traditions, Abrahamic religions, Dharmic traditions, and contemporary religions. By educating the public on these practices, Suzanne hopes to enrich their understanding of the structures and diversity they encounter on a daily basis in their own lives.