Kent churches try to keep students’ faith strong

Kristen Traynor

Many programs offered for students’ religious needs

Many students move to college and stop attending religious services because they don’t know where to go or feel as if they have no one to go with them. Several campus organizations and local religious institutions are trying to make things more comfortable for students to continue practicing their faith.

The Hillel Jewish Student Center on North Lincoln Street offers a student-led Shabbat every Friday at 5 or 5:30 p.m. that allows different traditions and backgrounds of students to show, said Rivkah Rosenberg, Jewish student life coordinator.

She said because students come from such diverse backgrounds, the environment is more welcoming to new students and others wanting to learn more about the religion.

Rosenberg said students who are writing papers on the religion or just want to learn more about Judaism often attend services as well.

Currently, the cost of Shabbat is $5 per person, but the organization is working to make it free for students through a grant. Hillel has a number of different student leadership organizations, including a women’s activity group, a social justice group and an Israeli group. The Freshmen First-Year Shabbat will take place Aug. 22, and the Welcome Back ceremony will be Aug. 29.

The Catholic Student Association and the Newman Center on Horning Road offer similar opportunities for students.

“We offer faith-based activities with a Catholic spin,” said Mark Bartholet, pastoral associate for Campus Ministry.

Bartholet said students who get involved in organizations outside the classroom are much more likely to finish at the university, and the Newman Center parish is always welcoming to new members.

The Catholic Student Organization meets the first Thursday of every month at 9 p.m. in the Newman Center. The group will host a welcome-back barbecue for students and have a reception after the first mass of the semester.

Masses are held Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m., Sunday mornings at 9 and 11 a.m. Starting Sept. 7, a Sunday evening mass will be held at 8 p.m. Masses for Holy Days of Obligation usually take place at 7 p.m.

Faith Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministries are also working to make students feel more at home. The ministry tries to incorporate students into the choir and other activities within the church, said Bonnie Jewell, secretary and ministry participant.

“It helps to keep them grounded,” Jewell said.

Lutheran Campus Ministries meets at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday in Luther House, behind the church, and the organization will have a table at the Aug. 24 Blast-Off celebration. Sunday services take place at 8:15 and 10:45 a.m., with a free student lunch after the service.

Contact principal reporter Kristen Traynor at [email protected].