Welcome to a new semester! As we begin a new year, we have confidence in God’s care for His people and His purposes. Our hope, prayer, expectation is that the gospel will advance on campus this year regardless of impediments that we encounter.
InterVarsity’s three chapters, along with 13 other student religious groups, start this year as non-registered students religious organizations due to the university’s new non-discrimination policy, which forbids religious groups from using religious criteria in student leadership selection. We don’t yet know fully what the year will be like as non-registered groups. Obviously, for the 1,400 students who participate in these groups, this situation is far short of ideal. In addition to a sense of marginalization, we face practical challenges that we are learning to navigate. For example, the university has agreed to let us reserve space for free (which is a blessing), but to do so we cannot use the university’s name on any of our public communication, which makes it difficult to communicate to new students that we are near and around Vanderbilt. We are also not allowed at any student organization’s fairs, which makes it harder to meet students and invite them into our community.
If you want to read a recent article summarizing last year, including comments from our Graduate Christian Fellowship staff worker, Tish Harrison, click here.
If you want to read a recent student opinion in Inside Vandy, click here.
As we enter the new year, we covet your prayers more than ever. Below are a few things we invite you to be praying for:
a. That all deregistered religious groups would find ways to meaningfully connect with students. We can no longer use digital signage, university list serves or websites, attend the Student Activities Fair, etc.
b. That God would continue to unify the body of Christ on campus with true unity that preserves real distinctions, truthfulness, and integrity. Toward that end, campus ministries have come together and are planning a weekly prayer service on Thursday mornings. More details to follow.
c. That God would grant wisdom and love to the staff from each of the deregistered groups as we attempt to navigate this new climate.
d. That the university students and personnel would witness the tangible love of Christ as we relate to them and be curious about the “hope that is within us.”