Jamie Wasilchenko

The Divine Mother, Community Outreach, and Interfaith in West Michigan


The divine mother is an integral part of faith systems in India, often manifested in goddess forms. In popular practices, the goddesses are believed to use their primal power to nurture, protect, and exercise justice and retribution against evil and dehumanizing forces. These mother-focused aspects have sometimes been transplanted and adapted to a new social context in the U.S. The interfaith movement can be seen as one avenue for reaching non-Indian communities and providing a dynamic vehicle for mother-oriented spirituality and outreach. Mother's Trust/Mother's Place in Ganges, Michigan, attributes the divine mother as one inspiration for its interfaith program, the Lakeshore Interfaith Institute, as well as for its outreach programs dedicated to helping families in crisis and health care communities. By interviewing those most closely involved in MT/MP services and facilitating discussions between those who attend courses at the LII, our research will address which aspects of the divine mother orientation provide the impetus for outreach activities. It will also examine what interfaith is, what it means to those involved at MT/MP/LII, and how it is applied in a day-to-day setting.

Faculty Mentor: Russell Rhoads

Page last modified May 13, 2011