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Students, Christian Union Faculty Appreciate Ministry Center 

by tom campisi

When the Christian Union Center at Columbia University was dedicated last fall, the ministry’s Founder and CEO, Matt Bennett, said “generations of influential students, faculty, and alumni will be emboldened and equipped to carry revival and cultural reformation to the university and the world.”

The impact of the building was felt immediately; the consensus among the ministry’s faculty was that “God is at work in the new ministry center.” Within a few days, Christian Union was able to engage more new students than in the previous year of ministry. At the close of the recent academic year, Ministry Fellow Ava Ligh said the Christian Union Center was a blessing that enabled students to experience a greater sense of community and provided a wonderful place to seek the Lord, study the Word, and grow together. 


Anne Marie Tehn-Addy ’21, Ministry Fellow Yolanda Solomon, and Jade Thompson ’21 at the Christian Union Center

The Christian Union Center is located between two fraternity houses, one block from Butler Library, in the historic Morningside Heights neighborhood. The building is divided into three units across five floors, plus a basement. Christian Union occupies the unit comprising the basement plus first floor and rents the other space.

The purchase of the facility was made possible thanks to a $700,000 matching gift by the BridgeHead Foundation and donations from 250 financial partners, including the Stover Foundation and Glen and Betty Jean Knecht. Christian Union currently has ministry centers at Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale, and is seeking to add more at other schools as funding permits.

Since Christian Union’s launch at Columbia in 2011, the ministry had leased office space and even held some Bible courses and events in the homes of ministry fellows.

One of the first big events in the new ministry center was a Christmas party in 2018. In May, an end-of-the-year barbeque drew students who associated with Christian Union, and a few other guests.

“During the barbeque, the football fraternity was also having a party next door,” explained Ligh. “Since we had better food and music, many of the party goers stopped in to say hello, grab a burger, and then head over to the party.”

In addition to hosting large events, the Christian Union Center was also home to Bible courses, mentoring meetings, prayer times, and counseling sessions. Ligh said students appreciate one-on-one meetings there, and not having to talk vulnerably in spaces like Starbucks.

The Christian Union faculty is expecting an even greater impact this year when more renovations will be completed. Sara Mead, the ministry’s administrative assistant, and Ligh have been working to finish some of the final details before the pre-retreat in late August. The team will prepare for the arrival of freshmen on campus and another year of ministry on campus and at the Christian Union Center.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is starting a weekly Sunday night dinner, where we serve simple meals like salad and pasta, and students gather and break bread together,” Ligh said. “We are looking forward to using the ministry center in the coming year.”