Ministry Fellows, Student Leaders Host Welcoming Campaign
In August, Christian Union at Cornell hosted its annual pre-retreat, a strategic event for students and ministry fellows in preparation of its three-week Freshman Welcoming Campaign at the beginning of the academic year.
At the retreat, students were reminded of the importance of being centered on the Gospel as the motive for all that they do. Ministry Fellow Jordan Cooper spoke on Romans 1:16, emphasizing that Jesus ought to have the highest priority in our lives. Ministry Fellow Liz Thomforde echoed the sentiment, and reiterated the importance of being mindful that Christ’s sacrifice is why we serve in our different roles within the ministry. Through prayer, worship, devotionals, large group discussions, and conversations around the campfire, the focus was on Jesus Christ, and how He is the ultimate reason for reaching out to freshmen and welcoming them to Cornell.
Mariana Gandolfo ’22, Ellie Wright ’22, Grace Younglund ’22, and Erika Tillotson ’21 (left to right) helped welcome freshmen to Cornell this fall.
Ministry Fellow Lisa Cooper, the wife of Jordan Cooper, stated that her personal favorite part of the Freshman Welcoming Campaign was seeing how students “sought out opportunities to serve in ways they truly enjoy.”
Carley Eschilman ’20 was one of several students who wanted to reach out to freshmen and let them know they are loved and accepted, and have a Christian community at Cornell. The senior recalled how welcomed she was made to feel when she arrived on campus three years ago.
“When I came to Cornell, all the way from Kansas, I remember being incredibly overwhelmed with the feeling of being ‘used.’ People and organizations wanted something from me—be it my time, my involvement, my contact information... During the beginning of the school year, Christian Union students and staff wanted to give and allow new students to feel cared for, not taken advantage of. That feeling of genuine care is what drew me to Christian Union and is what has brought me back each year to help with Freshman Welcoming events.”
During the retreat and in the weeks that followed, students and ministry fellows invited incoming freshmen to various events, including: a Midnight Picnic, Late-Night Pancake Party, Baking Night, Sunday Brunch, Men’s Video Game Night, Women’s Lemonade Picnic, Cascadilla Gorge Hike, and Vita Fidei (the ministry’s weekly Leadership Lecture Series).
Throughout the events, student leaders were encouraged to see how many freshmen approached Christian Union students and staff expressing a desire to get plugged into a Bible course and Christian community on campus.
Amidst all the logistics and planning, the Freshman Welcoming Campaign was also a learning experience in which students had to lean on the Lord for strength and know that ultimately, things are in His control.
Agnes Tang ‘22 stated, “I’m the kind of person who loves helping people and has a hard time saying no to things, especially when I see someone in need. But recently, God has been teaching me that, ultimately, it’s not me who’s doing the work—God is the one doing the work and He will fill in for my shortcomings and weaknesses. He doesn’t need us, but He chooses us to be vessels and witnesses of His work, and that’s such an honor and privilege.”
Many students said being part of the Freshman Welcoming Campaign was a blessing and learning experience.
“Coming into Freshman Welcoming Campaign and trying to be cognizant of what made me feel welcome last year was sometimes overwhelming, but then when we met new faces and friends at events, it really made it all worth it,” said Shelby Haley ’22.
“As a sophomore now, I remember what it was like to be a freshman on campus and struggle to find genuine Christian friends and fellowship,” said Ben Hopkins ’22. “I was more than excited to help this year’s freshmen find that for themselves. From stopping a student wearing a YoungLife shirt while trying to move in and inviting him to Christian Union to helping lead the freshman guys’ Bible study, I really appreciated the opportunity to minister to the class of 2023.”