Lately, I’ve been taking to reading the University of Alabama’s newspaper. Typically, I’ve found it in the past to be only mildly amusing or informative (probably because 9/10 issues are multi-page sports leaflets with no hockey to speak of).
This week, however, has been quite interesting. The opinions page has been alight with birth control, vaccinations, religion, and all sorts of interesting things. Here is one of the highlights:
Title: Baptist Campus Ministries Loves Jesus* (letter to the editor)
I’ve always been a very independent person, so imagine my surprise when my first weekend away from home at college was one that was completely panic-stricken. I was concerned that I had made the wrong decision in choosing to go to a school three hours away from home. That feeling persisted until my roommate invited me to the Baptist Campus Ministries for an event called Survival. At Survival, we had small group time, seminars and pizza, providing you the chance to get to know other freshman majoring in the same thing as you, living in the same dorm as you and maybe in some of the same classes. Survival was the first night I knew I had made the right decision in coming to UA; the first night I felt like it was home.
Ever since then, the BCM has often served as a place of refuge for me. I immediately got involved with their small group Bible study called Journey Groups, their Tuesday night worship titled Discovery and Wednesday lunch. Journey Groups allowed me to be able to learn more about God and more about myself in a small group setting. Discovery helped me meet some upperclassmen that I now look to as mentors. Wednesday lunch provided a delicious home cooked meal once a week that was a nice break from the dining hall food. I’ve also gotten involved with the freshman leadership team.
In February and March, the freshman leadership team is reaching out to the Air Force ROTC Cadets. We will have a special lunch honoring the cadets Wed., Feb. 29, and we will host a dinner honoring the cadets on March 1.
Even if you are not a part of the ROTC, we would still love for you to come to one of our events. It’s not too late to join a spring Journey Group, and this semester we have five studies to choose from on different days and at different times so as to best fit with your schedule. Discovery is Tuesdays at 7 p.m., and Wednesday lunch is every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Your first Wednesday lunch is free, and after that, they are only $1.
The BCM has been a great way for me to get involved in different activities. For anyone who doesn’t already have a campus ministry or church to attend, I hope the BCM can provide that same sense of welcome and safety it did for me that first week I was at UA.
* wouldn’t you be a bit shocked if they didn’t?
Anyway, what I have to say about this:
Towards the beginning, I was a bit touched. I’ve been in that situation where I couldn’t quite find my place. Sure, I’m clearly coming from a different place; but I can empathize with the scenario. I was reminded of first coming to AAA, and finding a network in a new place.
Then it turned into…an advertisement? That sounded at first like something from the heart that would end with a good message about community. With that ending, it just comes off as a recruitment letter. Still, I doubt that it wasn’t genuine. It might just be a case of shoddy freshman writing. I really just took heavy issue with part of that closing:
For anyone who doesn’t already have a campus ministry or church to attend, I hope the BCM can provide that same sense of welcome and safety it did for me that first week I was at UA.
…are people seriously unaware that not everyone goes to church? That not everyone needs church? That not everyone is Christian?
I love hearing about students finding their niche in college. I personally feel that developing new social networks is a huge part of the college experience and plays a large role in the transition to adulthood. Kudos to finding a place where you feel comfortable. I’ve met quite a few members of the BCM, and they have struck me very positively.
” For anyone who doesn’t already have a campus ministry or church to attend, I hope the BCM can provide that same sense of welcome and safety it did for me that first week I was at UA.”
I do want to point out something here: it doesn’t take a church to provide that sense of welcome and community. I know from growing up in the South that churches and church groups provide a huge number of social networks down here. I don’t see this as a bad thing; it just makes sense given the pervasiveness of Christianity in this region. I just want to point out that church isn’t the only answer.
As some people are aware, not all of the university community is composed of Christians. One of the advantages of the University of Alabama’s impressive size is that it provides a large and diverse network of active student groups: enough so that just about anyone can find a place to fit in somewhere. In the time that I have spent at this University (which is to end come May, a bittersweet truth for me), I have gotten to know a number of these communities and their members. As a bit of an eccentric and fish-out-of-water in comparison to the majority of campus, the groups and people I have gotten to know have primarily been the underground, alternative sorts: Mallet, Spectrum, and certainly most of all AAA. I can testify that the communities and bonds built in these groups can be and are just as life-changing and precious as those forged for others in brotherhoods or in pews.
My point here is that this University community has a lot to offer to everyone and anyone, regardless of who they are. The fact that this University can offer a place that allows a liberal atheist nerd feel comfortable and thrive speaks not only to the school’s existing diversity, but to the potential of what more it could offer in the future. Every student deserves the opportunity to find their place at a University, and I am glad that Alabama has lived up to that for me.
So that is my two cents on that.
I’ll have some of the other recent opinions that struck me up soon!