Coming to a college campus may be scary when it comes to growing your faith, especially because there are different perspectives and points of view that you never considered before. You may have thoughts like, “What if I don’t fit in?” or “How can I be a Christian and still have the best four years of my life?” I know… I’ve been there. I came to Eastern with a strong foundation in Christ, but then I got involved in so many new activities and met so many beautiful people that helped me grow even more! These opportunities helped me grow in my faith more than I ever thought possible, so to help you on your own journey, I am going to give you some helpful tools to consider as you try to grow in your faith here at Eastern University.
The Residential Halls:
This is where it all starts. It's in the Resident Halls where you have the opportunity to meet new people and attend Grow Groups. Through Grow Groups, your hall comes together with the Student Chaplains to study the Bible and have conversations on important topics like forgiveness, pride, love, your mind, etc. It is also where you meet other people who you can call friends, all while growing in your faith and having fun! The Student Chaplains in your building are also there for you outside of Grow Groups. They are there not just for your spiritual well being, but for your mental and physical well being too. So if you ever have questions, need to talk, or just want to hang out and have a homework party, knock on your Chaplain’s door because they’ll be there for you!
This is the place where you may feel challenged the most. Picture yourself sitting in a classroom where you hear different views on the Bible, hearing new perspectives on the relationship between science and faith, or views on justice issues that you never considered. You might even hear students share beliefs that are different from yours. How do you feel? Uncomfortable? Afraid? Doubtful? These are good feelings to have. Classrooms open up a space for you to be uncomfortable and to stretch your perspective on different topics. The students and professors allow you to wrestle with difficult topics, but also allow you to learn about other denominations. Along with hearing about different perspectives, there are also certain discussions that will help you become more established within your own faith. Students may want to challenge you on your faith but this will teach you how to defend and stand by your beliefs. I think the best part about growing your faith within the classroom is that we are all teaching each other. Even though this can be challenging, we are all uncomfortable together because growth is occurring.
Clubs are another great way to explore your faith while at Eastern. Here are some clubs and organizations that can help:
- CRU (Bible studies)
- John Henry Newman Club (Conversations surrounding Catholicism)
- Nurses Christian Fellowship
- One Generation (OG) (Intentional Worship)
- Student Chaplain Program
- Unceasing Prayer Ministry
- Wednesday Night Worship
- Precious Movements (Dance ministry)
- ...and so many more! See a full list of Student Clubs offered at Eastern.
These clubs have helped many students, including myself, grow in our faith as we learn how to love God, serve our community and serve others in our neighborhoods.
Office of Faith and Practice:
The Office of Faith and Practice (OFP) holds weekly Chapel Services and supports the monthly Windows on the World seminars hosted by the Provost’s Office. OFP is also responsible for managing the Student Chaplain program as well as other student-led Campus Ministries. Chapel is held on Wednesday mornings and is a place where students and faculty come together to worship and hear about various faith-based topics from different speakers. Additionally, Windows on the World is a space to integrate faith, reason, and justice through various topics and messages from speakers.
As a senior and the Chair of the Student Chaplain Program, I personally grew my faith by involving myself in clubs like Wednesday Night Worship, having deep conversations with my friends, and dancing with Precious Movements. I am also able to have hard conversations in classrooms that strengthen my faith. During my time at Eastern, I have learned what authenticity and vulnerability look like and I'm constantly surrounded by a community willing to grow and heal with me. Eastern has allowed me to see God in the most beautiful ways, both through the beauty of the campus and the hearts of those who are on this campus. I grew more in my faith by sitting at the pond and learning the art of “being still”. I hope you find your time here at Eastern to be one of the best times of your life, growing in and falling in love with your faith.