Each fall, Anderson University students are introduced to the Campus Ministries program through a special chapel and ministry fair. The ministries provide an opportunity for students to take their faith and passions off campus and impact the surrounding community, even the world.
Director of Campus Ministries Stuart Erny believes that the ministries are a way for students to take that first step out of their comfort zone into unfamiliar places. “When students take that step, that is where they start to grow, put roots of faith down and their faith really takes off,” said Erny. “Seeing that happen year after year keeps me excited.”
[Photo: Students learn about the Advocacy and Awareness group during the Campus Ministries interest meeting this fall.]
Erny believes many schools have a gap between the campus and neighboring community, and campus ministries are one of many ways to help bridge that gap. “Campus Ministries aren’t the only way that gap is eliminated. It happens through class, internships, volunteering, practicums — and it goes both ways. Students are blessed as well, and their eyes are opened to the needs of the world around them,” said Erny.
Kierstin Schalliol, student coordinator of Work Projects, sees an impact on the campus community as well. Students involved in the work projects group spend one Saturday a month doing a service project in the city. “I think it creates a really good community within the students,” said Schalliol. “Regardless of your major or year, being involved in ministries reduces barriers and gives you a connection to the town of Anderson.”
One area of distinction for the AU Campus Ministries program is its proximity to urban ministry opportunities. “Our program is unique from other schools partly because of our location,” said Erny. “We are an urban campus within blocks of a homeless shelter, a nursing home and a community center.”
Erny thinks a lot of Christian campuses try to remove themselves from the “sin of the city.” “That’s never been AU,” he said. “Service to society has always been a hallmark of AU from the very beginning.”
[Photo: AU student Justin Snoddy signs up to work with Christian Center Rescue during the Campus Ministries interest meeting.]
AU students can get involved with any of the 12 Campus Ministries offered on campus. Each program has its own student coordinator and each ministry comes with its own characteristics and mission.
- Advocacy and Awareness is a group that discusses social injustices and suffering and seeks to promote or "sound a call" for them to the campus community.
- Christian Center Rescue works with the homeless in Anderson at the Christian Center, which feeds and shelters men and women in the city of Anderson.
- Generation to Generation ministers to elderly residents at a local nursing home.
- Through Lunch Buddies, students can share lunch once a week with an at-risk child at local elementary schools.
- The Neighbors ministry seeks to bridge the gap between the school and the city of Anderson by creating valuable relationships with people living in neighborhoods near campus.
- The Prayer Ministry supports prayer groups and workshops while overseeing the prayer room, located in the Morrison House basement.
- The Prison Ministry offers fellowship with juvenile inmates at local detention centers.
- Study Buddies is an opportunity for AU students to tutor children.
- VisionRevision is a special a chapel each semester that allows participants to combine music, art, and drama for worship.
- Work Projects offer a way for students to reach out to the community through a variety of service opportunities.
- AU-East Africa exists to establish and grow relationships of mutual support between AU and communities in East Africa. The ministry emerged as AU's response to the global AIDS pandemic.
- Park Place Community Center, led by Park Place Church of God, provides a holistic, relational-based community center that includes an after-school fun program for children, a food pantry, and a host of other community resources.
— Jonathon Hosea is a sophomore from New Castle, Ind., majoring in Communication Arts. Hosea is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.