Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union

Students Glorify God in Off-Campus Community 

By Cassandra Jobman, Penn ’21


There are certainly plenty of groups of college men who choose to live together. But the men of the “ManS1on” at the 20 South 39th Street apartments in Philadelphia are not bonded by a love of FIFA or beer, or even a major or club they have in common. They are bonded by a commitment to serve God in community—and by a constitution.


Members of Penn’s ManS1on are committed to live in community, serve one another, and challenge each other to faithfully follow Christ. 

In 2010, six University of Pennsylvania students involved with Penn Cru founded an off-campus community specifically for Christian men. Since then, the group has doubled in size and now includes Penn students who are involved in various ministries on campus and churches.

 And the ManS1on—which incorporates its S1 apartment number into its name to suggest the word mansion—is something of a ministry in itself. Each “ManS1onite” is part of a small accountability group from among his housemates; the entire house spends at least an hour together each week, praying, singing, and sharing. Food is purchased communally, and each week a community dinner is served by rotating members of the house. Guests are encouraged, and allowed to share in the communal food in the spirit of hospitality.


ManS1on alumnus Mark Hoover, now a third-year student at Princeton Theological Seminary, explains that the founders of the house laid out a theological framework: “glorifying God by living in community, challenging its members to follow Christ faithfully, and supporting their service to God in other communities, all under the authority of Christ, the Scriptures, and the Church.”

Talking with members and reviewing their governing documents, it becomes clear that the ManS1on is something closer to a monastic community than a fraternity or bachelor pad.

The mission is based on 1 John 4:19-21, emphasizing that “Christian community is not transactional. Everything given is a sacrifice and everything received is a gift. We serve each other, not because we hope for service in return, but because Christ served us.”

Among their fellow students and within campus culture, this is nothing short of a radical stance. Penn can be an incredibly transactional place, where a curricular focus on profit and individual achievement can bleed down into all aspects of life. Here, though, is a group of men for whom “sacrifice” does not mean “sacrifice for my own future,” but “sacrifice for one another.”

Current ManS1on member Chris Jackson ’20 appreciates “the close-knit, intentional community that is not as evident on Penn’s campus.”

“My relationship with the guys at the house does not merely constitute being acquaintances, but being brothers.”