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Religion supplements academics, social life for college

Armour, Stephanie

Religion supplements academics,social life for college studentsStephanie ArmourStaff ReporterIn high school, school spirit means pep rallies, pom pons and cheers.

In college, school spirit often means religion.

For most University students, there's more to college than classes. Many students today also look to integrate their academic studies with religion.

More than 40 religious organizations reside on campus and most share a common theme of spreading religious teaching and supporting students spiritually.

Helping students develop an identity away from home is one of the goals of the Campus Christian Fellowship, said Jack Nicolay, campus minister. The organization, founded in 1972, currently ministers to about 30 Christian students.

"We give students a different view besides just academics," Nicolay said. "We do service programs for the community, like working with food shelves. Next year we're looking at going to Haiti to work on an orphanage."

The organization, sponsored by the South East Christian Church, is primarily directed by students, Nicolay said. Students organize small group discussions on everything from money to sexuality.

Sessions from a Christian point of view are also the objective of Campus Crusade for Christ, said Greg Chenoweth, Campus Director.

The local chapter, a Christian organization founded in 1951, is part of the national organization that can be found on more than 400 campuses and in 171 countries.

"Students come away gathering new friends and encouragement in developing relationships with God," Chenoweth said.

Activities planned by the Crusade include weekly meetings, small group bible studies, and programs in residence halls and fraternities, Chenoweth said. About 120 students are currently involved.

Students participating in the organization said they have learned how to share their faith and strengthen their relationship with God.

"The reason I'm still involved with the Crusade is that it's interdenominational," said Dan Barbeau, a senior in the College of Biological Sciences. "It doesn't take stands on a lot of doctrines. It's just basic Christian teaching."

Dawn Peterson, a senior in home economics who attends Campus Crusade events, said the program has had a strong impact in helping her determine who she is.

"I've gotten good lifetime friends, leadership skills, and learned a lot about who I am and who God is."

Discovering God and the unity of religion are two of the goals of the Bahai Association, said John Berry, a junior with the Institute of Technology. Bahai, which originated in Persia, is a relatively young religion that teaches unity of mankind, religion, God and humanity.

"All of us are from one God," Berry said. "Religion is evolving just like man."

About 25 people are involved with the Baha'i Association, but Berry said some have been reluctant to try something new.

"It's a new religion and a new concept and everyone is not usually ready to say I believe it right away," Berry said.

Another one of the newer religious organizations on campus is Children of The Night. The organization, which was founded on campus 10 years ago, is a pagan study forum and outreach group, said Susan Marien, president.

"We are not satanists," MarienReligion9Religion3said. "We stay away. satanists worship the Christian devil and we worship the sunlight."

Paganism, which dates back to 2,000 B.C., involves the study of witchcraft, Druism, and Shamanism, Marien said. The organization has about 10 members, and occasionally carries out Shabbat rituals.

"A lot of us go out to parks, celebrate, and cast our circles," Marien said. "There are different gods and goddesses and sometimes we invoke them."

Another religious organization on campus is Buddhism Nichiren Shoshu of America. The student organization, founded in the 1970s, currently has 20 members, said Howard Dunlavey, Minneapolis Headquarters leader. The Twin Cities branch has about 1,100 members.

The purpose of the organization is to attain individual happiness and world peace through the practice of Buddhism, Dunlavey said.

"We can achieve world peace through each individual person becoming happy," he said.

The student group has an information booth in Coffman Memorial Union, and weekly discussion meetings that are open to the public.

The Eastern Orthodox Fellowship, a student organization with about 40 members, also conducts open discussion meetings on both religious and contemporary issues.

The Fellowship is an opportunity for people of Eastern Orthodox faith to socialize and to learn, said Dan Glumac, president and IT senior.

"Discussion topics have included Evangelism in the 20th century, the sexual revolution, and abortion," Glumac said.

Forum discussions on similar topics are also sponsored by the Baptist Student Union, a liberal church that started in 1850, said the Rev. Lee Freeman. The church has various programs, including worship services, choir, music, and social events.

"We show that people can use their brains and intelligence and still have faith," Freeman said. "We're open to a diversity of lifestyles."

A mixture of people and religious programming is the purpose behind the B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation, explained Rabbi Irvin Wise. The foundation, a part of the national organization, sponsors programs including dances, parties, cultural discussions, on campus exhibits and conferences.

"We serve as a bridge if the community is looking for information from the University," Wise said. "We also monitor what's going on on campus in terms of anti Semitism and anti Israeli activity."

©Copyright 1989, The Minesota Daily
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