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Campus Ministry creates soul space

Posted: February 4 2020 at 01:18 PM
Author: Rich Havard, Inclusive Collective Campus Minister


Sundaydinner

More than 50 college students and young adults gather to eat delicious food, build community, sing songs, encounter God, and explore what it means to follow Jesus at the Inclusive Collective’s monthly dinner and worship gathering at the Chicago Temple.

At a time when over 36% of 18-24 year-olds describe their religion as “nothing in particular” and seem unsure about living out their faith within the bounds of mainline churches, an exciting new ministry has emerged. The Inclusive Collective (IC - formerly Agape House), our NIC campus ministry partner at the University of Illinois at Chicago (and now also at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb), has forged a new path by doing ministry in experimental and imaginative ways.

In the past four years, our community has grown from zero to more than 70 students and young adults, many of whom haven’t been part of a faith community in many years or ever. This past year, the IC adopted a new mission statement: “Fueling young adults through Jesusrooted soul work.” What does that mean? We strive to create experiences where people can encounter God in such powerful ways that they feel inspired and energized for courageous, faithful living. Experiences that stir them up to follow Jesus, disrupt the status quo and co-create God’s Beloved Community.

This past year, we also made a discovery: more than 100,000 students are in Loop-area universities alone, yet we are one of only two campus ministries that is theologically open, LGBTQ-inclusive, and rooted in a mainline denomination in that geographic area. Prior to fall 2019, neither the IC nor the other mainline ministry offered regular worship. That meant that, in the third largest city in the country, there was no worship gathering created by and for students that was LGBTQ-inclusive and theologically progressive.

In an attempt to live out our mission more faithfully and meet a huge need, the IC launched Dinner + Worship in September 2019, thanks to a creative ministries grant from the Northern Illinois Conference. It has created a new worship experience that is compelling to our members. Each month, 50+ college students and young adults gather to eat delicious food, build community, sing stirring songs, encounter God, and explore what it means to follow Jesus. And we do this all at the Chicago Temple due to their immense generosity and hospitality.

UIC graduate student Mary Heath said, “For me, Dinner + Worship provided a safe environment to reconnect with communal spiritual practice. It gave me the chance to sing worship songs and take communion for the first time in years in a space where I feel completely accepted. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share a meal, conversation, and worship with such a welcoming and diverse group.”

As the church wrestles to be transformed and transforming within its changing realities, God continues to give birth to fresh expressions of church. It is my joy to see the new form of Christian community IC folks are creating. If you want a peek at what God is doing, join us one Friday and watch God move.

Upcoming Dinner + Worship

Dates: Fridays, Feb. 7, March 6, April 3 & April 24
Time: 6- 8 pm
Location: Chicago Temple (2nd floor Chapel) 77 W. Washington St., Chicago IL 60602

For more information about us, visit LetsGetInclusiveUIC.org or follow us on Instagram (@LetsGetInclusiveUIC).

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