MU Students Enjoy Deep Dive into Christianity

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In the 2020-21 academic year, Methodist University’s Religious Life Department offered a unique extracurricular opportunity to MU students. The project, “Christian Believer, Knowing God with Heart and Mind,” is a comprehensive study guide, that offers a deep dive into the foundation and aspects of Christianity. The 30-week project lasted two semesters and allowed students to earn a certificate and pin upon completion.

“The ‘Christian Believer’ study was very informative and interesting,” said Darryll DeCotis ’21. “This program helped me gain a better understanding of Christian doctrine.”

Meetings for the project were attended by an average of 10 students who wanted to learn more about the religion they already practiced or learn Christian doctrine. Some students heard Christian expressions while growing up in church but didn’t know what they meant or wanted to learn more. For some, it was a chance to revisit the particulars of their faith, and for others it was the desire to be a well-prepared leader.

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“Christian Believer”

“The program broadened my understanding of knowing God with both my heart, and my mind,” said Tanner L. Hendricks ’22. “This study provided the opportunity to deeply discuss theological ideas with the rest of the group. Because of this, I have never been part of a study that was as spirit led as this one. This program benefitted my spiritual walk because it allowed me to view things such as the Trinity and the Apostle’s Creed from a different perspective. The in-depth analysis allowed me to discover new things that I can build on and learn more about throughout my spiritual journey.”

Due to COVID, the study started out with Zoom meetings, but as restrictions were lifted, students gathered in the Matthews Ministry Center on the MU campus. The program was led by University Chaplain Kelli W. Taylor, who said students asked insightful questions that led to lively discussions and meetings often spilled over later into the evening.

“The ‘Christian Believer’ study focuses on classical teachings of the Christian faith—presenting, explaining, and interpreting them through biblical texts, ancient and modern writings of the Church, symbols, and hymns,” said Taylor. “What impressed me about this group of students was their commitment to the 30-week discipline of reading and wrestling with Christian doctrine.”

Emily Kuch | Photo by Ruth Carr

The study attracted an array of students from seniors to freshmen. Emily Kuch ’24 finished the program having a better understanding of the Trinity and the doctrine of atonement and enjoyed the respect and encouragement she felt from the group.

“Even though my peers and I were at different levels of knowledge and belong to different denominations, we were all respectful and encouraging to one another,” she said. “Everyone obtained more knowledge than we had on the first week.”

Taylor relished the time she spent with the students.

“To witness today’s students interacting with ancient texts through reading and discussion is a high point in my role as university chaplain,” she said. “Every part of the Methodist University experience has education as its purpose. The ‘Christian Believer’ study is a powerful example of how Religious Life engages education and the practice of the Christian faith.”

Note: The Religious Life Department plans to have a similar study in the Fall 2021 semester. Interested MU students should contact Religious Life at 910.630.7157 for more details.