For a relatively small city, Berkeley seems to have a great number of religious institutions in a variety of faiths. I am sure this must be due to a number of factors, but maybe it has some relation to the existence of the Graduate Theological Union. I was walking in the area north of campus this weekend where many of the GTU buildings are located, and was thinking about how huge this place is. In fact, the GTU website says that it is “the largest partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the country.” Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, and multidenominational programs are offered at the GTU, in the neighborhood sometimes called “Holy Hill.”
In addition to the number of faiths represented in Berkeley, I was also surprised to see so many religious services offered in other languages. Spanish services are common in many areas of California, but I have also noticed signs announcing programs in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) and … Finnish! In trying to find out more about Finnish church services, I found that UC Berkeley is one of only 11 U.S. universities offering Finnish language studies and also that there is an active Bay Area Finnish Network. There are two buildings that used to house Finnish centers — the Finnish Hall and the Finnish Brotherhood Hall (now the site of various community meetings and classes).
More to come in the future regarding religion — Judaism, Buddhism, architecture, etc.