“Spiritual and religious development is mostly overlooked in college,” says Brad Mathisen, minister for UVa-Wise’s Catholic Campus Ministry.
With the transition from high school to higher education, students can find their focus shifting from religion and spirituality to a demanding schedule of academics, athletics, Greek life and preparation for a professional career. Sabbath mornings may go by the wayside from the exhaustion of that pace, but the UVa-Wise campus community offers opportunities for students wanting to keep religion and spirituality part of their college experience.
While it should be noted that the religious organizations mentioned in this article are Christian based, UVa-Wise students of all faiths are invited to participate.
“We are a Christian group, but we welcome discussion from our peers that may not be Christian, and we are willing to be open and listen,” said Reverend Beth Tipton of the Wesley Foundation.
The Wesley Foundation, a collegiate ministry of the United Methodist Church, is in its fifty-fourth year here at UVa-Wise. Since its establishment, Wesley has remained committed to providing a variety of opportunities for students to grow in their spirituality.
to providing a variety of opportunities for students to grow in their spirituality.
In its facility just across College Drive from the main campus, the organization offers Christian discussions every Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. Also, they offer a free meal every Wednesday from 12 – 2 p.m., followed by an optional discussion session. One-on-one discussions with Reverend Tipton are available upon request.
For those interested in becoming even more involved with Wesley, mission trips are available to participate in. The next trip is scheduled for May -14, to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. The deadline to sign up is April 8. For more information on The Wesley Foundation, students are encouraged to visit the foundation’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), founded in 1958, holds the title of oldest religious organization at UVa-Wise. BCM’s current president, Junetta Nuckels, says the focus of the group is to build a Christian community on campus, while also serving as a support system to students and providing encouragement throughout their undergraduate career.
BCM welcomes students, faculty, and staff to stop by their campus location for a free lunch on Mondays from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Students can join in Bible studies, discussion, and group activities each Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The organization also emphasizes community service by helping both local groups and distant areas in need. This year’s medical mission trip to Belize took place over spring break.
Catholic Campus Ministry, or CCM, is relatively new to UVa-Wise. Completing its fourth year on campus, CCM started out as a small, student-led group. It has since grown into an official organization that is now under the guidance of Minister Brad Mathisen. A CCM student leader, Karina Rufino, describes the organization as a community in which members can grow in their love and faith, form deep connections, develop lasting friendships, and serve as a foundation throughout college. Although recently established at Wise, they have no shortage of opportunities for students who wish to become involved. Interested students can attend Bible study on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the college’s Chapel of All Faiths. Also held in the chapel are Adoration and Sunday Mass. Adoration is a meditative prayer and worship session held once every month. Sunday Mass, followed by dinner, begins at 4 p.m. Mission trips, retreats, and community nights are also available for students to attend.
For those who want to further embrace Catholicism, CCM offers a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults course every year. To learn more about CCM, students can visit their Facebook page, UVa-Wise Catholic Campus Ministry.
Chi Rho, formally established during the spring of 2015 as an outreach from All Saints Episcopal Church in Norton, is a newcomer to UVa-Wise. Created and ran by student William Yearout and Reverend Robert Beauchamp, the budding organization is described as an inclusive and welcoming ministry that invites all to participate in the affirmation of God’s grace by worshipping together.
Yearout said there is no correct starting point in one’s religious beliefs; Chi Rho embraces people at whatever point they are in their faith. The group offers dinner, meaningful discussion covering a variety of topics, and worship every other Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of All Faiths. The next meeting, on March 31, will offer a special event discussing the relationship between science and religion. This particular event will meet at 5 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room in the Slemp Student Center, and is open to all.
For those interested, the group also provides a weekly Sunday RideShare to All Saints’ 11 a.m. service. In the future, Chi Rho looks forward to planning and inviting students to take part in service opportunities in our community. More information about Chi Rho can be found by emailing William Yearout at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through their Facebook page, Chi Rho: The Episcopal Church at UVa-Wise.
Other Christian organizations on campus include The Landing, The Gathering, and Sigma Alpha Omega sorority. These organizations identify as non-denominational. Further information on these groups can be found via the UVa-Wise Clubs and Organizations Directory, or their respective Facebook pages.
There are no requirements or commitments associated with these organizations; one need only to show up if and when you can. At UVa-Wise, students can have the full college experience, while still maintaining their religion and spirituality.