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Christian Union
May 17, 2018

Retreat Has Special Meaning for Christian Union at Brown 

by tom campisi, managing editor

Christian Union at Brown hosted a historic and joyous senior retreat this spring.

Ministry fellows gathered on Cape Cod with the 12 students who comprise the first graduating class since the organization was launched four years ago.

“It was a really great time to celebrate all they have done here at Brown in the last four years,” said Matt Woodard, Christian Union’s ministry director at Brown. “These 12 students were instrumental in getting this ministry started. It was great to see how God is working in their lives, to hear their stories, and reflect together.”

Justin Doyle, a Christian Union ministry fellow, recalled the humble beginnings of the first freshman outreach campaign that subsequently evolved “into a little community of students who wanted to follow Jesus and make Him known on campus.” He also praised God’s providence in establishing a leadership ministry at Brown University: “God faithfully brought students to us; raised up leaders; guided us through the bumps and bruises of planting a ministry; and faithfully brought us to where we are today.”

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Doyle described the dozen seniors as having “grit, vision, steadfastness, and, above all, a love for Jesus and those whom God called them to serve during their time at Brown.” Click to Tweet

One of the key leaders is Gianna Uson, a computer science major who will intern in Washington, D.C. this summer in the Civic Digital Fellowship program.

Uson appreciated how Christian Union was part of the fabric of her college experience.

“My favorite memories of Christian Union at Brown were found in the mundane—from going to the Jud (Christian Union’s Judson Center) and having life-giving conversations with people, doing homework, studying, eating, laughing, praying together, and having spontaneous worship nights, to seeing the ministry fellows and their children, and the insanely fun retreats.”

Senior Kylen Soriano, another key leader, appreciated the long, but rewarding, days and nights of several freshman campaigns.

“It’s easily the busiest time of the year for Christian Union, and so many of us operated on very little sleep trying to love as many students as possible,” he said. “We were making pancakes and waffles, carrying Chipotle to people, and trying to remember as many names as possible. It was such a blast to see all of us come together for a common goal and sacrifice so much for [incoming freshmen].”

In addition to Soriano and Uson, the Christian Union senior class includes: Joel Fortune, Ayisha Jackson, Jackie Cornejo, Isaac Whitney, Jackie Vargas, Meagan Peters, Yokabed Ashenafi, Bekah Lee, Joyce Elias, and Douglas Villalta.

Both Soriano and Uson are thankful for the leadership training and community provided by Christian Union.

“Christian Union helped prepare me for what is next by giving me opportunities to receive mentorship and discipleship and equipping me to offer the same to others,” Uson said. Click to Tweet “Christian Union has also fostered a community that has cared for me and loved me throughout my time at Brown, giving me brothers and sisters in Christ who pray for me and encourage me to seek God above all.”

Soriano, who will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in biology (with a track in physiology and biotechnology), is confident that he will carry the knowledge and fervor of seeking God at Brown into his future. He recently accepted a one-year job offer to work as a clinical research fellow at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York. Soriano will work closely with the chairman of orthopedic surgery.
“Christian Union helped prepare me for what is next by giving me opportunities to receive mentorship and discipleship and equipping me to offer the same to others. Christian Union has also fostered a community that has cared for me and loved me throughout my time at Brown, giving me brothers and sisters in Christ who pray for me and encourage me to seek God above all." - Gianna Uson ’18

“Christian Union has provided me with a family and a community of believers that I know will always be there to pray for me and love me,” he said. “I’ve developed so many lasting connections that will really sustain me as I move into the workforce.”

“Through Christian Union, I learned to view my immediate surroundings as my mission field. I am much more prepared to go to New York next year than I was coming into Brown.”

Developing Christian leaders like Soriano to transform culture is the mission of Christian Union. And Doyle is thankful for what God has been up to at Brown.

“In our four years on campus, we’ve witnessed hundreds of students pursuing Jesus and seeking to make Him known,” Doyle said. “Watching as our first class of students graduates and sets out to change the world for Christ—that’s great stuff.”