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Freshman Welcoming Campaign Attracts a Crowd  

by tom campisi, managing editor

At the start of the fall semester, Christian Union at Brown’s faculty wanted to extend its Freshman Welcoming Campaign beyond students who would typically attend a Bible course or leadership lecture series.

To reach a “festive” demographic late on a Friday night, Ministry Fellows Justin Doyle and Laurel Copp, Intern Gianna Uson, and student leaders brought grills and burgers to Wayland Arch, which is located between Frat Row and a freshman dorm quad. Christian Union at Brown set up camp in the midst of partying students, handing out about 150 sliders and bottles of water.

FridayNightLightsFallMag2018“By the time the first sliders were finished grilling, they were in the hands of hungry students,” Doyle said. “The students were thankful for this practical act of love and many took note of who we were. We had several conversations about why we were out there on a Friday night, and how our faith in Jesus compels us to love and serve our friends and neighbors.”

In addition to providing a tangible witness and feeding hungry and thirsty passersby, the outreach also let students know that there was a viable alternative to the party scene. One student, who was visibly drunk, exclaimed, “I should go to church.” She soon disappeared into a crowd, but visited Christian Union’s table later in the semester. Another student, also very intoxicated, actually ended up going to church with members of Christian Union about a week later.

“We encountered so many students who are caught up in that scene,” said Copp.

In addition to the burger outreach at Wayland Arch, Christian Union at Brown also hosted other welcoming events, including “Chick-Fil-A and Lawn Games” and a “Chipotle Block Party.” The ministry also launched its weekly Anchor leadership lecture series and Bible courses. On October 5-7, Brown Christian Union’s fall conference was held at Lakeside Christian Retreat Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Doyle, Copp, and Matt Woodard, Christian Union’s ministry director at Brown, shared messages around the theme, “Until We Find Our Rest in You.”

Jose Reyes, a senior from El Paso, Texas, who is concentrating in neurobiology, was a key member of the Freshman Welcoming Campaign. One of the highlights, he said, was the opportunity to mentor a freshman student.

“Discipleship is extremely important in our community, and fostering a close relationship with someone is something that I really enjoy,” he said. “As a freshman, I was lost and overwhelmed, and I would have liked to have had an upperclassman ask me how I was doing and offer advice.”

Jenasis Ortega, a sophomore, was also grateful to be part of the campaign. The computer science major from Eagle Mountain, Utah was impressed with the strategic planning and organization.

“It made me more appreciative of the investment that the leaders and ministry fellows in Christian Union are making in the lives of the students here on campus,” she said. “The idea that we should make other people feel comfortable, even if it means making ourselves uncomfortable, is something that has stuck with me. Overall, it’s been great to see how the ministry fellows and other leaders purpose to serve those around them. Their examples continually inspire me to do the same.”

Ortega is now welcoming freshmen in the same manner she was welcomed last year by ministry fellows.

“One of the biggest ways in which Christian Union has helped develop my leadership skills has been through the everyday interactions I’ve had with the other leaders and the ministry fellows,” she said. Click to Tweet

Reyes is also thankful for the leadership development training he has received through Christian Union at Brown. He helps coordinate the ministry’s leadership lecture series.

“Christian Union has allowed me to grow in my leadership skills by providing me with a position that not only involves planning leadership lecture series events, but is focused on discipleship. Planning a weekly general body meeting has taught me organizational skills and trained me in problem-solving skills,” Reyes said.

“Overall, Christian Union has provided me with the support and guidance that have shown me how a Christian should lead.”