Students express faith through campus groups

Coming to college can be a daunting task.
Leaving home for the first time to live on their own, some students are making big decisions about how they want to live their lives for the first time.
When to do laundry, how to budget money and when to study are all things some students can find difficult to balance.
But one of the biggest decisions for college students is whether or not to continue following their faith.
For some students, church was something that had to be done on Sundays as a family event, like it or not. Others may have gladly gone to church and followed their spirituality without concern. Or perhaps they were the only ones in their towns to have a certain belief and didn’t know how to make that faith even stronger.
Coming to college, keeping your faith can be a huge issue. Not knowing where to go, what to continue believing in or even who to talk about the touchy issue of faith with can be very overbearing. Luckily, Bradley offers a host of religious and faith-based groups on campus to foster your faith.
Bradley Hillel, St. Joseph Newman Center, the Muslim Student Association, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship are five of the largest on-campus faith-based organizations available to students. Along with these, churches such as St. Mark’s and worship groups such as worship@full. volume allow students to come together over common religious beliefs.
Sophomore theatre performance major Becca Wenning is one of the student liaisons for a new spiritual group on campus called Areopagus. People can come to this group if they are seeking spiritual “food.”
“We meet on Sunday nights and have dinner as a group,” Wenning said. “We then discuss a relevant topic based on student ideas, such as sin in college life.”
Wenning said she thinks groups such as this one, despite their religious affiliations, help get students together and become a new community to them.
“You can find a group of people that are like you and have the same ideas,” she said. “You can find those people to interact with so that if that is the type of person you want to be, you can push towards that. It is easy to develop a better understanding of your faith. So much of this is based on fellowship – fellowship with others – that is the basis for this faith relationship.”
With all the groups on campus, students could find themselves in faith identity crises. However, they need not fear being lost at sea without a guiding light.
Seth Katz, the Hillel adviser, said it’s not about the religion or the belief, as long as there is something out there to believe in.
“If it gives you comfort and security, by all means you should find something on campus,” he said. “Speaking for Hillel, I believe that it is a student’s first opportunity to control their own choice … It’s all on the students.”
Many of the groups on campus work to help students better understand the corresponding religion they are focused on through student run studies. Groups such as Cru have student-run bible study groups meeting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday nights to help try to find the answers to some of the bigger questions posed by the Christian faith. Cru also leads groups within the dorms throughout the week for men and women.
Senior social work major Lindsay Tabor leads the women’s Cru group in Williams and University halls on Mondays. For her, Cru is something that makes the idea of faith and religion somewhat less taboo than it tends to be.
“It seems that many people believe church to be very formal and strict. That view of church often gets transferred to Christian organizations such as Cru,” Tabor said. “However, Cru is not a church, but a group of college students who are learning about spirituality and are growing closer to God. We still go to class, play sports and like to meet new people. None of us have arrived at some special point of spiritual maturity, but we are maturing in our faith.”
However, Christianity is not the only represented group on campus. With over 15 different groups devoted to various religions and the ability to start your own based on your personal beliefs, the most important thing is that you maintain a healthy belief system.
Regardless of the organization, religious groups on campus are student-driven.
“This is the point that students can discover for themselves,” Wenning said. “It is up to you to seek it out and believe what you want to believe. It’s the start for the rest of your life. Why not start it now?”