Star Cross Crescent

SCTR 19 – "Religions of the Book" – Spring 2007

Fr. Felix Just, S.J.
Dept. of Religious Studies, Santa Clara University

Site Visit Guidelines

Purpose: To experience how some groups of Jews, Christians, or Muslims conduct their communal worship, and to reflect upon how they incorporate their scriptures (Bible or Qur’an) into their worship services.

Overview: Students will attend weekend worship services at two different religious sites (synagogue, church, and mosque), outside your own religious tradition (if doing so would violate your own religious beliefs, please see me for an alternate assignment). Go together with one or two other students, alone only in exceptional cases. Then write a brief report (3-4 pages) about each visit, focusing especially on how the visited group uses its scriptures.

Guidelines & Timeline:

  1. Form Teams – Join with one or two other students from our class, as you wish (do not go alone, nor in groups larger than four, so you do not overwhelm your hosts). Decide which two religious traditions you want to visit. You may visit two sites with different classmates, of course.
  2. Propose Your Visits (by Friday, April 13) – Choose two specific religious congregations to visit (see the reverse side for synagogues & mosques; check a phone book or on internet for Christian churches). Find out when they have their main weekend service(s), and decide when you can attend. Submit a brief written proposal listing the names of the students, the names and locations of the religious congregations, their website addresses, and when you plan to conduct your visits (times & dates of services).
  3. Prepare for Your Visits – Do some research in advance (books, websites, interviews) to find out what to expect during your visits, what their normal “order of service” is, what language(s) they use, and how they usually use their scriptures in their services. Call in advance to make sure they are open to visitors and to tell them when you would like to visit (as a courtesy). Ask what would be appropriate for you to wear, and if they have any other guidelines or information for you before you go. Also, ask if you could meet with someone before or after the service who could answer your questions.
  4. Conduct Your Visits – Synagogue visits should be completed by 4/28/07; Church visits by 5/13/07; and Mosque visits by 5/25/07. Arrange your own transportation, arrive early, introduce yourselves (if appropriate), and behave respectfully! Be mindful that you are representing SCU, albeit unofficially, and that your conduct reflects on our university as a whole. Pick up a copy of their weekly bulletin, worship aide, or some other current local publication – not merely to prove your attendance, but to get a sense of what else the congregation does (esp. with scripture) aside from its weekly services.
  5. Changes/Problems? – Let me know ASAP by email if you need to change anything that was in your proposal (different date of visit, time of service, team members, or religious institution). If you encounter any problems before or during your visit, let me know immediately.
  6. Write Your Reports – Reflect on your experience individually, discuss it with your team members, and then write a brief report (3-4 pages) about what you observed and learned. Include a brief overview of the service you attended, along with some comments about the congregation, the building, the order of worship, etc. Mostly, describe and analyze how the groups you visited incorporate their scriptures into their services (in readings, sermons, prayers, songs, environment, architecture, etc.).
  7. Format – (see below)
  8. Due Dates – On or before the start of class: Synagogue reports on 4/30/07; Church reports on 5/14/07; Mosque visit reports on 5/30/07. No late papers will be accepted!

Report Format:

  • Write each report in standard Essay format (brief introduction with a clear thesis statement; structured body with detailed supporting evidence; brief conclusion, not just repeating your introduction but “concluding” something interesting related to your paper’s thesis).
  • Use proper academic English (no contractions or slang; grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are crucial!).
  • Make sure each paper is the required length (3-4 full pages), double-spaced,
    typed in a 10-12 point font, with 1-inch margins (change MS Windows 1¼-inch default),
    a compact single-spaced heading (not a separate title page), and a creative title (possibly also a descriptive subtitle).
  • Append the worship aide, bulletin, or other literature you collected.

Heading Format (single-spaced):

top left: centered: top right:
Name of Religious Site Visited . Name of Student
Location (Street Address & City) . Date of Report
Website .
Course Number & Title
Date & Time of Visit .  
. Creative Paper Title (bolded)
(possibly also a more descriptive subtitle?)
Paper Intro & Body (begin double-spacing)
. .


Grading Rubrics for Site Visit Reports:


3 – Above Standards

2.5 – Meets Standards

2 – Approaches Standards

1.5 / 1.0 / 0.5 – Below Standards

0 – Nada

Paper Format

All formatting rubrics have been closely followed, and the paper looks academically professional.

All formatting rubrics have been followed, so the paper looks academically appropriate.

A few formatting rubrics have not been followed, but the paper is still academically acceptable.

Several formatting rubrics are not met, making it deficient for an academic paper.

Is this a


Complete site visit information is clearly and accurately given in the prescribed format.

Complete site visit information is given in the prescribed format.

Most details are accurate, but a few are missing and/or not given in the required format.

Several details are incomplete and/or inaccurate.

Who went where when?


The first paragraph captures the reader’s attention with a compelling introduction and a clear, strong thesis statement.

The first paragraph introduces the paper’s content and includes a clear thesis statement.

The introductory paragraph is interesting but the thesis of the paper is not entirely clear.

The introductory paragraph and thesis statement are unclear, uninteresting, and/or lacking.

Is there any thesis?


The body of the paper is clearly organized with well-constructed paragraphs and appropriate subheadings.

The body of the paper is well organized into appropriate sections and paragraphs.

The paper is organized, but some paragraphs are not constructed very well.

The paper’s organization is unclear and/or deficient.

What’s a paragraph?


Your observations about the worship service are totally clear, accurate, and thorough.

Your observations about the worship service are stated clearly and accurately.

Most of your observations are stated accurately, but not all very thoroughly.

What you experienced is unclear and/or confusing for the reader.

Were your eyes open?


The report shows excellent understanding of the service visited, and provides support through details and examples.

The report shows good understanding of the religious service, and includes essential knowledge with some details.

The report shows sufficient understanding of most things, but there is little support and/or a few factual errors.

The authors do not seem to understand the religious group very well and/or there are significant factual errors.

Where are we, Captain?


How the visited group uses its scriptures is accurately described and well integrated as a major focus of the paper.

How the visited group uses its scriptures is clearly and accurately described.

How the visited group uses its scriptures is mentioned, but not described very clearly or thoroughly.

How the visited group uses its scriptures is hardly mentioned and/or described incorrectly.

What are scriptures?

Scripture Refs

The report cites a good number of specific scriptural references in the most compact format.

The report includes several specific scriptural references in the proper format.

The report includes only a few scriptural references, but still in proper format.

The report includes few or no scriptural references and/or cites them incorrectly.

What’s a


The paper exhibits skillful use of the technical vocabulary appropriate to the religious group visited.

The paper exhibits accurate use of vocabulary appropriate to the religious group visited.

The paper exhibits minimal use of religious vocabulary, but with only few serious errors.

The paper lacks specific religious vocabulary and/or has significant errors in usage.

What religion is this about?


The concluding paragraph is strong and leaves the reader solidly understanding what the authors learned.

The conclusion summarizes what the authors learned from this experience.

There is a conclusion, but it does little more than restate the introduction.

There is no clear conclusion; the paper just seems to end.

What’s a

Grammar &

All sentences are constructed well, with no grammatical or punctuation errors, so the paper is very easy to read.

Sentences are constructed well, with very few grammatical or punctuation errors, so the paper is easy to read.

Several grammatical and/or punctuation errors catch the reader's attention and interrupt the flow of the paper.

Many grammatical and/or punctuation errors catch the reader's attention and seriously interrupt the paper’s flow.

Are we in
college yet?

Spelling &

No spelling or capitalization errors at all.

Very few spelling or capitalization errors.

Several different spelling and/or capitalization errors.

Many spelling and/or capitalization errors.

Is this still


4: A bulletin, worship aide, or other printed material from the date of the visit is appended to the report.
3: Some printed material from the visited religious site is appended, but not from the date of the visit.
0: Oops, we forgot!

Total Score possible for each paper: 40 points.


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