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Christian Union Launches Freshman Welcoming Campaign 

by catherine elvy, staff writer

Students involved with Christian Union’s ministry at Columbia University were energized as they prepared to reach out to members of the class of 2022.

The theme for this year’s freshman welcoming campaign centered upon spiritual kinship. The ministry greeted incoming students with the intent of offering “community for the sake of others,” said Ministry Director Lane Young. “What brings us together is Jesus.”

In preparation, student leaders read Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community. While teaching at an underground seminary in Nazi Germany, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the book to offer practical advice on how families and groups can sustain life together in Christ.

Student leaders in Christian Union’s ministry at Columbia University greeted members of the class of 2022 as they arrived on campus.  

As a result, student leaders buzzed with excitement as they shared with arriving frosh about Christian Union’s plan to debut a ministry center at 529 West 113th Street. “The building allows us to feel part of a larger community,” said Young of the historic building in Morningside Heights. “It really is unique. There is no space at all at Columbia like this.”

Multiple Bible courses meeting in a single location and a central place for corporate prayer and fasting also will help promote a sense of camaraderie among students, Young said.

Until now, a lack of dedicated space for ministry also has hindered efforts to fully fuel a seeking God lifestyle among students. “It’s been hard to gain momentum for prayer,” said Young. “We’re very excited to see how prayer and fasting can change that.”

In preparation for the freshman outreach, about 25 students involved in Christian Union’s ministry participated in a planning retreat from August 23 to 26 at Camp-of-the-Woods in Speculator, New York. Christian Union took the “freshman gatherers” to the scenic retreat center for a time of prayer, teaching, worship, and strategic planning. Click to Tweet

“It’s pivotal that we alert any incoming Christians to the fact that they have a home already waiting for them,” said Nathaniel Wyatt ’20, vice president of Christian Union at Columbia. “Christian Union is an oasis.” 

Before the close of the 2017-18 academic year, upperclassmen participated in lunchtime training sessions to help them orchestrate the plans for the ministry’s freshman outreach.

The freshman welcoming campaign kicked off on August 27 with a full lineup of engaging activities, including a midnight pancake outreach, a Chick-fil-A distribution in the heart of campus, a gathering at an uptown board game café, and pickup basketball at Dodge Fitness Center.

Christian Union at Columbia hosted its annual Labor Day weekend picnic at Riverside Park, a designated scenic landmark in the City of New York. As well, ministry fellows took turns speaking at the ministry’s weekly leadership lecture series, Illumina, when it resumed for the fall semester.

“For the campaign, we are seeking to love the freshmen,” said Yolanda Solomon, a Christian Union ministry fellow. “It’s an opportunity to welcome freshmen during a very formative time and to show them the love of Christ.”