New group provides community, dialogue for UCA pagans

When Ph.D candidate Sheldon Slinkard arrived at the University of Central Arkansas at the beginning of the fall semester, there was no organization bringing people who were in the same religious mindset as him.

Slinkard is a Lythia pagan — a ritualistic form of paganism that Slinkard said is different from other forms of paganism that are more “spontaneously religious.”

Through talking with people around campus, Slinkard said he saw a need for pagans — and those who wanted to engage in discussions about paganism — to have a place to congregate and talk.

“Sometimes you kind of have to create your own environment,” he said. “People knew that this was something that needed to happen, to have a core community of people to come to.”

At the beginning of the spring semester, Ignite: Pagans United had its first meeting.

The group meets every Thursday evening to discuss various forms of paganism and discuss how they differ from each other and other religions.

“It’s really a theoretically-based and educational group,” Slinkard said.

Each week the group has a presenter who talks about what they believe. The group then engages in discussion about why and how their beliefs differ.

“It’s been really low key,” Slinkard said.

Some of the presenters have been from other faiths, and the group welcomes discussion from people outside of paganism.

“We actually have inter-faith dialogue with a lot of Christian groups and Muslim groups,” Slinkard said.

Ignite: Pagans United has started planning events on campus and in the community to show people who they are and what they believe.

UCA Pagan Pride Day will be April 24 and will be open to the public. Slinkard said several other groups have committed to the event, including belly dancers who will perform and then hold a clinic and PRISM, the campus group serving the LGBT community, will be discussing sexuality and paganism.

In the fall, Slinkard said Ignite: Pagans United will be teaming up with three nonprofits for Pagan Pride Day.

For more information on Ignight: Pagans United, contact Sheldon Slinkard at sheldonslinkard@gmail.com.

(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at angela.spencer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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