Learning to coexist

Local religious groups are teaching TCU students to live in community with people who are different from themselves, Associate Chaplain Todd Boling said. 

Organizations affiliated with the university such as the TCU Wesley Foundation, the Muslim Student Association and Hillel, the foundation for Jewish campus life, work in a way that offer TCU students an opportunity for spiritual guidance.  However, some organizations have chosen to engage students in an unconventional way.

TCU Wesley, a group affiliated with the United Methodist Church, is headed by Megan Davidson, a campus minister.

“There is so much negative stigma in the world now about the impact that Christians have,” Davidson said.

Some new ways her organization chose to engage students was by offering Popsicles to the TCU Marching Band  every week. Davidson  said TCU Wesley also wanted to engage students through the new community garden.

“It’s a way to get students involved in something that is meaningful and purposeful,” Davidson said.

The garden is meant to get students involved with the TCU community, Davidson said.

The TCU Wesley will be hosting a benefit basketball tournament in October. It is an effort to raise money for an organization called Nothing But Nets , a grass roots organization.

Nothing But Nets  rose funds to send bed nets to Africa to help prevent the spread of malaria.

Through this tournament, Davidson said they hoped to make at least $6,000. That money would send 600 bed nets to Africa.
TCU Wesley also offered dinner on Wednesday nights with a worship time afterward. Davidson said she wanted to make sure TCU Wesley spoke a redemptive message to students.

“We want to make sure that the kind of impact we have on this campus is not necessarily to create the largest campus ministry,” Davidson  said.

The Muslim Student Association chose to advertise itself by contacting new students. Yushau Sodiq, an associate professor of religious studies, said MSA gathered a list of international students who were coming from the Middle East. Then they offered the students a chance to join the MSA.

Every year, MSA hosts an event called Islamic Week. During this week, professors and experts host lectures on different aspects of the Islamic religion.

Another feature of Islamic Week is an invitation for students to fast for one day with other Muslim students during Ramadan, Sodiq said.

MSA also used fliers, e-mail and word-of-mouth to invite students to events they are holding on campus. Sodiq said people attended the functions more than they attended the meetings.
The main goal of the MSA is to have a good relationship with Muslims and non-Muslims and to promote the Islamic image around campus, Sodiq said.

Hillel used Facebook , Twitter , OrgSync and other social media to reach out to students.

Arnold Barkman, associate professor of accounting, said Hillel used events at TCU in order to get word out about the organization. During the spring, Hillel goes to TCU’s Holocaust Museum during Community Week. Hillel is not a very big organization because there are not many Jewish students at TCU, Barkman said. Because of its size Hillel has the ability to find events that are fitting for all of their interests.

“The primary objective is to provide Jewish students an opportunity to relate to other Jewish students and faculty and maintain or establish a sense of Jewish identity in an environment in which they are a very small minority,” Barkman said.

Boling said having a variety of religious organizations reflects the world in which we live.
Other organizations around TCU such as Christ Chapel Bible Church  have college-oriented services.

Ben Fuqua, a college pastor, said the heart of his ministry was to preach the gospel and make disciples.

Fuqua  said they tried to get students involved in small groups in order to make the church a genuine community and not just a once-a-week affair.

On Thursday mornings, the church hosts an event called Bingo and Bagels. During this event, the church along with its volunteers, served bagels and played bingo with the homeless.

“We get to know them,” Fuqua  said.

On Saturday afternoons, Christ Chapel partners with Unity Park to get to know the homeless as well. Fuqua said it was interesting to see the excitement of students who were part of these programs. 

“Students have shown up in droves because they want to serve,” he said.

Another new strategy Christ Chapel adopted was moving its college service on Sunday mornings to the Aardvark. The service starts at 10 a.m. and about 200 students show up weekly, Fuqua said. They meet close to campus for convenience as well.

Fuqua  said he thought most college students were looking for community in joining a church.

There are 22 faith-based organizations at TCU. For more information about these organizations, visit faith.tcu.edu.