Last week was Easter. Many students went home and spent some time with families and friends. For those who are Christians, Easter was a great time to reconnect with their faith and appreciate the gift of life that Christ has given us. College is a thrilling experience and a period for both academic and interpersonal growth. But many students, especially those who happen to be at a school not affiliated with their religion, fear that their faith may wither or even pass away during their years at their school.
This made me wonder: how do most students who come from various religious backgrounds manage to keep their faith at Concordia? I am not a religious expert, but I took Religion 100, and with my curiosity on the table, I hope this article will stimulate discussion and become something that we can reflect on as a community.
I have come to understand that Concordia does a really wonderful job in assisting students ensure that they keep up with their faith. However, I realized that not so many students take advantage of this valuable resource. Why? That’s a great question that we need to address—and unfortunately I have no idea. We have Campus Ministry to assist students, but I would assume that students who happen not to be Christians view this as a Christian-centered ministry, so maybe there have to be some clarification on what Campus Ministry does. Or should Concordia have a more “neutral” office where students can go and feel comfortable talking about their faith?
We are a Christian school, so if people happen to be from faiths other than Christianity where do they go? We have a lot of interfaith discussions led by various organizations on campus, and those I have attended tend to focus more on how we can live in harmony as a diverse community. However, I have not heard of any that try to help individuals to maintain their “original faiths” without trying to coerce them to a new faith.
On-campus student-led spiritual groups are wonderful resource college students. The chance to worship and talk with other religious students is one that all students should take, given the support and joy that a strong faith-related group can provide. However, Concordia only has a few of these and those that exist happen to be so “underground” that it’s hard for incoming freshmen to know that they exist. I wonder if they are even recognized (registered) by the college. Is this something we need to look at as a community or let individuals decide for themselves? Again, I don’t know the answer, but all I know is that as a student, my spiritual needs are essential to my college success.
If students feel that such a club does not yet exist, they should try founding a new group that would better fit their needs. However, again it seems there are no clear guidelines as to what students can do in order to establish such a group.
A lot of students have found a lot of ways to keep their faiths. There is a group of Christian students that meets every Monday in the north gym. There are student-led Bible studies in almost every dorm. Most prominently, we have every day chapel. A lot of students carpool every Sunday and go to various community churches. Should this be something that students are told during orientation? College is a period for both academic and interpersonal growth, so faith is also a component of that growth, and I think this issue needs to be looked at seriously.
Howard Mukanda is a Sophomore Student from Zimbabwe. He is Double Majoring in Business Management Information Systems and Global Studies. His Involvement with International Students, Peer Mentorship and International Admissions echoes his immense interest in Cultural Diversity.
Howard is also intrigued by Global issues concerning Peace, Justice and Democracy.