Our favorite time of year: the smell of fresh pencil shavings and shiny new plastic binders brings to mind the commencement of a new academic year. Usually religion is not included in the new and chaotic excitement that accompanies orientation week. However, while the classes and activities provide a hefty load for a student, religion can be an outlet for stress and anxiety. For a student who is already involved in a campus group or church program, it is easy to pick up and continue their religious tradition. For all of the new freshman and newcomers to Christ, however, it can prove a challenge.
RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) is a small fellowship group for all Washington & Lee students on campus. It meets twice a week, once in a large setting and once again in smaller groups. There is usually one message per night and students are encouraged to relate this message to their own lives and use it to improve their relationship with God. Recently, we had a cookie bake for all of the sophomore women to provide some fellowship and relaxation before the school year starts. When we asked a friend to come and join, she was reluctant. “I grew up Presbyterian, but I don’t really go to church anymore. I feel like my morals are strong and can uphold themselves without religion,” she said. While we wanted to stress to her that it would be a fun, welcoming and delicious activity, she was still wary. Where do we draw the line between pushing too hard and not pushing at all? Where is the happy medium of keeping the door open? There are an infinite number of reasons that people might hesitate to join a group such as ours. Some of the most common that we have witnessed at college have been the belief that the group is exclusive, their history with religion and the fear that their social life will be judged. We are here to debunk all of those myths.
Being a follower of Christ in college probably isn’t the most popular or trendy choice. But any group that makes an effort to follow the ways of Christ should be filled with some of the most accepting and hospitable people on campus. While there are always exceptions to the rule, we have found many people through these networks who fill the role of the unbiased believer. This group of genuine people can not only serve as an example on campus for new and younger students who are easily impressionable, but also as a possible pathway to Christ. Regardless of where a person is on their walk with God, these groups provide support and encouragement to take the next step. The social agenda that students make can play a large role in their selection of friends. When coming into a group like this, a student may be introduced to a new group of people who do not share in the same social tendencies. While concern and possible confrontation may erupt from these differences, it is only a product of the desire to help and shed light on the ways of Christ.
In groups like RUF, the door is always open. Students have the choice to attend meetings and smaller fellowship discussions, but should never be forced; if this happens, the point only becomes null.
Roommates Rally is the pen name of Kari Ann Pfannenstein and Corinne Smith, sophomores at Washington and Lee