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Christian Union Engages Campus with Various Outreaches   

By Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer 

Christian Union’s ministry at Columbia has a heart to create community and invite others.

Given the nature of an urban campus, many students find themselves craving an enhanced sense of collegiate culture. “Community is the thing that has been most central,” said Lane Young, Christian Union’s new ministry director at Columbia. “A lot of what they’re trying to do is find ways to make community happen.”

Among the highlights of outreach efforts, students involved in the ministry hosted a lecture in October entitled Did Evolution Kill God?


About 125 Columbia students heard biologist David Lahti of Queens College probe the topic of faith against the backdrop of evolution for a lecture in October at Pupin Hall.

{tweetme}To help attract a wide audience, Columbia’s Atheist and Agnostic Student Society and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (columbiaivcf.org) joined with Christian Union in sponsoring Lahti’s discussion on the intersection of his personal faith with the exploration of science. {/tweetme}

At Queens College, Lahti directs a laboratory that explores the learned behaviors of birds and humans. He holds a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan and received a doctorate in moral philosophy and the philosophy of biology from the Whitefield Institute in Oxford.

In November, Christian Union co-sponsored a Veritas Forum that probed the nature of a common moral understanding in a pluralistic society.

Michele Moody-Adams (Harvard Ph.D. ’86), a philosopher at Columbia, and Melissa Moschella (Harvard ’02, Princeton Ph.D. ’12), a medical ethics scholar at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, deliberated on whether God must be part of morality. Christian Union was one of about a dozen sponsors of the event entitled Does Morality Matter?

In December, as students approached finals, Young delivered a holiday message for the last Leadership Lecture Series of 2017. In a fresh look at Advent, he told students to embrace the reality of Christ’s ongoing presence, not just His wondrous, celebrated birth. “The Word became flesh,” said Young. “Scripture uses physical terms to talk about God’s presence.”

As such, Young encouraged students to actively welcome the presence of God throughout 2018.

Earlier in the semester, a Columbia alumnus spoke to Christian Union students on the intersection of faith and racial diversity. On November 30, Reyn Cabinte, pastor of Uptown Community Church, delivered a talk entitled The Cultural Agility of Jesus.

Christ provided an ultimate example of cultural engagement by leaving heaven to dwell among fallible humans. In turn, believers are called to appreciate one another, despite cultural differences, and to reflect upon their shared humanity, he said. 

Given the diversity within the student body at Columbia, Cabinte’s message was especially timely. Cabinte, Columbia ’96, shepherds a church within the nearby Washington Heights and Inwood communities. In other ministry news, students involved with Christian Union stepped up their efforts to demonstrate kindness to their collegiate peers. Six or more times over the autumn semester, the undergraduates distributed doughnuts and cookies to students passing through bustling Hamilton Hall during lunch hours. 

“The hope was to hit those students who couldn’t get to lunch,” said Young of the campus-kindness initiative. “It’s just a way to serve the campus. Jesus met simple physical needs. Part of growing as His disciples includes an outward focus.”

Looking back on his inaugural semester at the helm of Christian Union’s Columbia team, Young is encouraged to see a proactive student base. 

While Columbia often promotes unbridled individualism, Christian Union students paused to spotlight the value of a shared walk with Christ. “It’s a community centered around Jesus and growing one another,” said Young.