Campus ministries provide unique experiences, share common goals

SIUE is home to many faith-based organizations, including several nondenominational Christian college ministries. These groups each offer different experiences to members, though their goals are all the same — to provide support and share in their faiths.

A Cross Between Campus 

Ministry

A Cross Between Campus Ministry is a nondenominational Christian group on campus. It is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about God or growing in their faith, regardless of their religion, sexual orientation or a number of other factors, according to the group’s constitution. 

“We are a Campus Ministry of imperfect college students striving to become more like Christ,” the group’s Get Involved page reads. “ACB is full of broken, messed up people who are continually working to grow closer to God and His people.”

Sophomore chemistry major Adam Sullivan, of Palmer, Illinois, has been a member of the group since the beginning of his freshman year. Sullivan said he liked how personable and open the group is.

“[This group] just feels really real,” Sullivan said. “Instead of like a traditional service, it’s more of a discussion, so everyone can kind of chip in, and it’s a lot more personal that way. I feel like it’s a lot of interaction, [and] you can kind of hear what other people think, too.”

The group hosts small group meetings at members’ homes each week, which allow individuals to participate in discussions and spend time with other members of the group.

“Every Wednesday night, we’ll go there [to a member’s home], and there’s usually like a little snack or something, then you’ll have the discussion, and then we usually hang out, like play cornhole in the backyard and have a bonfire,” Sullivan said. 

The group also hosts larger events, such as their annual Root Beer Riot, which is celebrating its tenth year this fall.

“We also host the Root Beer Riot — that’s actually next Saturday, [August 24],” Sullivan said. “And it’s a fun time where people can come have root beer floats. And there’s a cornhole tournament and a pong tournament. So it’s a lot of fun.”

CRAVE College Ministry

CRAVE is a college ministry affiliated with Metro Community Church in Edwardsville. It is also nondenominational and open to anyone, regardless of an individual’s religious background, according to the group’s Get Involved page.

Derrick Nichols, of Edwardsville, has been the college pastor at Metro Community Church for the past two and a half years. Nichols believes what makes CRAVE unique compared to other college ministries is the group’s emphasis on empowering individuals through faith and the incredibly welcoming nature of its student leaders.

“People approach the faith in a lot of different ways, and I think what we do in CRAVE that really kind of makes us different is we really seek to empower our students to be the best versions of themselves,” Nichols said. “On top of that, we have an amazing community at CRAVE that is all student-led, which is pretty common for college ministries, but our student leaders do such an incredible job at welcoming absolutely everybody.” 

CRAVE hosts weekly experiences at Metro Community Church and small group meetings throughout the week, as well as several community events both on and off campus. One of the group’s events, their Back to School Bash, will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29 in the Meridian Ballroom.

“We’ll have a big band with lots of music and lights, and we’ll play lots of games, and we’ll do a lot of giveaways,” Nichols said. “So, this year we’re giving away AirPods, flat screens, Keurigs, mini fridges, different things like that, so we’re giving a lot of really cool prizes away. And we just want to have a fun time — that’s a big part of it.” 

Cru 

Cru is another Christian group that is not affiliated with any particular denomination. Its members come from a variety of religious or nonreligious backgrounds. The group is open to people from all walks of life who want to grow in or learn more about the Christian faith.

First-year social work graduate student Rachel Denmon, of Edwardsville, has been involved with Cru since her freshman year and said she believes that the group’s focus on inclusion and exploring tough conversations is what sets it apart.

“We really focus on creating a safe place and a place for discussion about things that are uncomfortable to talk about sometimes,” Denmon said.

Cru hosts a variety of small groups that are held at different times throughout the week, according to Denmon.

“Weekly, we’ll have small groups, so we have those scattered throughout the week,” Denmon said. “One will be around lunchtime on Monday, that’s a women’s group, and then in the evening we have different co-ed and sometimes just men or just women groups scattered throughout the evening. People can contact us for times and locations for those.” 

In addition to these small groups, Cru also holds larger meetings on a weekly basis and other events throughout the semester to provide members with different opportunities to get involved.

“Every single Thursday, we have our weekly meeting called ‘The Source,’ and that will usually be in Fixins’ on campus,” Denmon said. “And in that, we have a speaker and a small group discussion during that weekly meeting, and we always hang out at an after-‘The Source’ event, like going bowling or going out to eat as a group. And then throughout the semester, we have worship nights usually once a month, and other things we just go out and do for our community.”

Revolution Campus Ministry

Revolution Campus Ministry is a relatively new group on campus. The organization was first formed at SIUE in Spring 2017, but it has an older branch at Lindenwood University’s campus in Saint Charles, Missouri.

Physical education graduate student Jacob Sitton, of Bethalto, Illinois, is one of the SIUE branch’s founding members. Sitton said he believes this group stands out because of the close relationships formed by its members. 

“You know, we’re very relational together throughout the week — it’s not just whatever night we do our meeting or church on Sunday or whatever,” Sitton said. “A lot of our guys and girls, they do homework nights, we play intramurals together, we do video game nights.”

Sitton said he also believes the ministry’s strict adherence to and direct readings from the Bible makes it unique compared to other groups on campus.

“I think the biggest thing, too, is we don’t water down the Bible, and I think people respect that — that we don’t just say what we think or feel, but we really try to read it and do what it says,” Sitton said.

The group’s biggest draw for new members is their cross chats, which allow individuals to participate in discussions about passages from the Bible and meet other members of the group, according to Sitton.

“We do cross chats every Tuesday night, and we do them out of my house, and I think that’s the biggest draw for our ministry, is the cross chats,” Sitton said. “And what it is, is it’s essentially like a house party — I call it a house party that you remember the next day because there’s music playing, and everyone brings like Crock-Pot meals. But we do some sort of discussion while we’re there and bring a couple scriptures into it, and maybe it goes a half hour or 40 minutes for the lesson and the rest of the night we’re just kind of hanging out.”

More Options and How to Get Involved

These are just four of the many options for faith-based groups at SIUE. In addition to nondenominational Christian groups, there are also groups that are affiliated with a specific denomination, such as the Newman Catholic Community and the SIUE Lutheran Campus Ministry. 

Non-Christian, faith-based groups include the Muslim Student Association, the Secular Student Alliance and Mantra, a group that explores Vedic philosophy.

To learn more about these groups and other faith-based organizations on campus, visit SIUE’s Get Involved page at https://siue.campuslabs.com/engage/organizations?categories=5629.

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