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Campus ministries offer opportunities to non-Baptists

Sept. 11, 1996

By Michelle Van Rysselberge

Lariat Reporter

Due to Baylor's dominant Baptist heritage, other denominational ministries can sometimes be overshadowed, leaving students in the dark on what they have to offer, said a director of non-denominational ministries.

However, nearly 400 students buzz around the Methodist Student Center every week participating in various denominational and cultural groups, said Bill Patterson, direcor of Methodist Ministry. The Methodist Student Center is the home-base for Campus Ministries, the umbrella name for all of the student groups that meet at the center. It is a universal center for student-oriented ministries. All of the groups that meet here are open to any Baylor student regardless of denomination, Patterson said.

Amnesty International is one organization that meets in the Methodist Center. The organization's purpose is fighting for human rights of individuals all over the globe.

'We write letters to government officials in countries where Amnesty has found out about human rights violations,' said Erin Williams, co-director of the Waco student chapter of Amnesty and a Dallas senior.

'Many of these are political prisoners who have spoken out against their country's government or oppose national religion. We hope through these letters to put pressure on the government to release people.'

Meals on Wheels is a joint effort between Campus Ministries and Baptist Student Ministries to assist the elderly of Waco by making and delivering meals. Volunteering with Meals on Wheels is an outlet for community service, said Katie Shaver, director of Meals on Wheels and a Batesville, Ark., sophomore..

'[Meals on Wheels] is a chance to serve God and reach out to the elderly right around the Baylor campus that students don't even know are there,' Shaver said. 'It's a great way to reach out to the community.'

The Catholic Student Association falls under the Campus Ministries umbrella as well. The association offers mass on Sunday mornings and evenings as well as open council meetings two Tuesdays a month.

'We have special events throughout the year that are open to anyone,' said Martine Fierens, president of the Catholic Student Association and a Mesquite senior. 'The association is a home on campus for Catholics and students who want to learn more about the Catholic faith on an intellectual level or deeper interest.'

Reunion groups meet weekly at the Methodist Center for students who have attended a Chrysalis weekend. Chrysalis is an interdenominational three-day spiritual weekend retreat held in churches and campgrounds all over the nation. Denton sophomore Stormie Schott, an active member of Chrysalis, said that the reunion groups provide an opportunity for students to come together and be accountability partners, fellowship and take communion.

The Assembly of God denomination reaches out to students through Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship Thursday evenings.

Patterson said that approximately 200 students that participate in Campus Ministries's activities are international students. The International Bible Fellowship meets on Friday evenings for singing, discussion and recreation. Once a month an ethnic meal is served.

I.S.S.A., the Indian Subcontinent Student Association, meets Tuesday evenings. 'I.S.S.A. is a social club trying to unite students, not only from the Indian subcontinent,' said Sejal Bhagia, a Saudi Arabia senior. 'We have cultural shows, celebrate holidays and participate in service projects.'

The African Christian Alliance meets monthly for dinner and a time of worship and fellowship. African-American students and their families are welcome to attend.

The Methodist Ministry invites students of any denomination to fellowship and learn more about being a disciple of Christ at Disciple Bible Study on Thursday evenings.

On Monday evenings, professors are able to get to know students outside of the classroom. The Popular Professor Series invites guest professors to eat dinner and talk with students at the Methodist Center.

University band students are invited to part from their instruments for a time of Bible study on Tuesday evenings at the Methodist Center.

Patterson said students can escape from their hectic schedules at 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday. The center hosts a 'Nooner' every week to provide students with food and fellowship.

The doors of the Methodist Center are open for any Baylor student from any denomination and cultural group to come and feel at home, he said. Campus Ministries is open to adding other groups under its umbrella.

Patterson said, 'Anyone is welcome to come over if they have an idea for a group.'

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