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July 13, 2021

CU Libertas Preparing to Meet Freshmen and Sophomores

By Tom Campisi, Managing Editor

Matt Woodard, Christian Union’s ministry director at Brown University, is twice as excited for the upcoming Freshman Gathering Campaign at Brown University this fall.

After over a year of trying to work around COVID-19 restrictions, which limited in-person Bible courses and other gatherings, Woodard, Christian Union Libertas faculty, and student leaders are planning to not only meet incoming first-year students this fall, but are also seeking to reach out to members of the sophomore class who were on campus for only one semester in 2020-21.

Brown 2018 5Matt Woodard has served as Christian Union's ministry director at Brown University since 2014.

The Freshman Welcoming Campaign is a key time of introducing students to the ministry of CU Libertas, where they can enroll in Christian Union Bible courses, attend the weekly Leadership Lectures Series and Fall Conference, and receive one-on-one mentoring.

“We are looking forward to our freshman gathering campaign with outdoor events, dinners, and other activities,” Woodard said. “It’s also exciting to know that we will also meet many of the sophomores in person for the first time, and will be able to host two welcoming campaigns at once.”

Woodard’s optimism stems from the fact that Brown recently announced that projected vaccine requirements had been met and standard course enrollments, in-person operations, and normal student residence occupancy look like a go for the 2021-22 academic year.

“We have every reason to expect that Fall 2021 at Brown will look and feel much more like Fall 2019 than Fall 2020,” said Brown University President Christina H. Paxson.

In the meantime, the addition of a full summer term due to COVID-19 has enabled CU Libertas to impact students now.  

“We’ve never had students in session over the summer in this manner,” said Woodard. “We are praying that many of the freshmen will come to know Christ, that they’ll develop strong relationships with classmates, and that God will move in unique ways during this season.”

As for the past fall and spring semesters, CU Libertas pivoted to minister to and mentor students under trying circumstances. Even though the Judson Center was able to open for studying, prayer, and personal discipleship meetings, Bible courses had to be held via Zoom because of capacity restrictions due to COVID-19.

“Students struggled to form supportive social networks, had difficulty plugging into churches, and much of their time was spent in relative isolation,” Woodard said. “For many freshmen, they did this all away from home for the very first time.”

One of the highlights of the year, according to Woodard, was senior leadership, especially Genesis Ortega, one of the core members of CU Libertas. Ortega went above the call of duty by meeting with every female student during the year and providing mentoring to many.

Ortega and other members of the Class of ’21 with CU Libertas were commended for their ability to form a Christian community at Brown during this past year.

“It’s always hard to say goodbye to the seniors we’ve come to know so well and love so much. This year was certainly no exception, but we praise the Lord that students were able to walk in person with family in attendance,” Woodard said. “These students have demonstrated remarkable perseverance, maturity beyond their years, and an abundance of grace over the last two years. We’re excited to see where the Lord leads them in the years to come and feel so grateful for the privilege we’ve been given to walk beside them during their time here on campus.”

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