Some of you may remember the childhood church jingle: Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people. But we know that the church is not a physical location – the church is anywhere people are gathered worshiping God and doing mission in the world. But who exactly is in this world? Biblical teachings tell countless stories of providing food, shelter, and love to people who are hungry, thirsty, sick, and alone. If you close your eyes and picture those kinds of people, you probably aren’t picturing a college student.
While it’s true that the Bible says nothing about college students, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of the world that the church should aim to serve. Have you ever seen college students flock to free food like they haven’t eaten all day? It’s likely because they haven’t. Have you ever walked around Grounds during exam week? You are likely to see hoards of blurry-eyed, sniffling students who haven’t slept in days. The stresses of college paired with the endless unknowns of being twenty years old and having no idea what you are going to do with your life can easily lead to a sense of being alone. Through mission to the university community, we can support these students during such a critical moment in their lives.
University Mission at Westminster serves two main groups at the UVA campus and beyond. Ukirk, or University Church, supports undergraduate students looking for meaningful connection and a space to explore faith and service. The 20/30 CreW includes graduate and professional students and young adults and provides opportunities for personal growth alongside others in the same phase of life. For us so far, it has meant a lemonade booth on UVA’s first day of classes, a welcome dinner at Common Grounds, bi-weekly 20/30 CreW Wednesday Wind-down get togethers across town, one on one coffee dates with students, and a Mac and Cheese Off during Parents Weekend. We are looking forward to our upcoming Friendsgiving dinner, open study hours for exam week, and our post-exam Cookie Decorating De-stress Party.
The goal of University Mission is to meet students and young adults where they are, demonstrating to them that Westminster is an open and welcoming space that can support them through important periods of questioning, growth, and faith exploration. Through the stewardship of the church, we can continue this mission in our community.
Rebecca McGregor, on behalf of the University Mission Committee