Campus Ministries provides community

By Linda Luk

The Campus Ministries Association tries to offer more than just a religious experience.

For students seeking a place to worship, NIU offers a variety of organizations.

There are 12 organizations that participate, association president Rick Gibbons said.

“We meet together monthly,” Gibbons said. “Some of them are churches and some are not. Some are Christians and we also have Hillel [Jewish student organization]. There are other groups that participate as well.”

The Campus Ministries Association is made up of six different churches and seven other organizations on campus.

“Most people come from a great variety of religious communities,” Gibbons said. “It gives a unity in the midst of diversity.”

Gibbons thinks the on-campus groups offer a positive impact for students to grow spiritually. The groups also provide support for students and a place for people to meet others that share the same positive values.

“There is a wide variety, even in the groups that are there,” Gibbons said. “We have a Catholic group, probably the largest on campus. There are other groups and some are more like student fellowship, more on the line of a small Bible-study group.”

Matt Baker, campus director for Campus Crusade for Christ, feels that students who come from a church background should investigate the campus ministries because they might be very different from what they experienced at home.

“We really desire for student ownership,” Baker said. “We have teams to oversee socials, prayers and weekly meetings. I think students would develop spiritually, personally and find truth and answers to areas of their life.”

For some students, the church provides a safe place to go.

“It’s a home away from home,” said Catherine Klein, a senior nursing major and member of the Baptist Campus Ministry. “It is a place to get connected to people, a place to renew themselves. It’s lonely being away from home and it provides a place to meet and get support.”

It’s wonderful to have the variety here, Klein said.

“I think the most important thing is that they are warm, accepting, open and caring groups of people,” Gibbons said. “More than that, it gives the opportunity for you to find a group that shares your positive values.”

The campus ministries not only provide religious support, but also other support services as well.

“Sometimes campus ministries helps with counseling in time of crises and connect socially,” Gibbons said. “It is a multi-purpose approach.”

The Campus Ministries Association also has a liaison program with residence halls, Gibbons added. Sometimes when there are crises, students might want to talk to a pastor, where they might feel more comfortable.

“The campus ministries is a great group of people,” Gibbons said. “They care deeply about the students on campus. I hope every student will meet some of them. It is so important.”