The Dive’s first outreach program draws large crowd

Pat Jarrett

The Dive Director Rick McKee walks to the stage in Bowman Hall during its meeting Thursday. There was a standing room-only crowd at the outreach meeting. PAT JARRETT | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Witty banter flies between the host sitting at his desk and the band leader. The host introduces and subsequently makes a series of jokes about wacky news articles before introducing the guests.

This is a familiar scenario on late-night talk shows, but not for church. However, this is how The Dive operates.

The non-denominational Christian organization has been bringing in talk-show-like numbers for its weekly meetings in Bowman Hall. It is the No. 1 group on Pulse, a feature on Facebook.com that lists the most active groups sorted by favorite movies, music and organizations on campus.

Want to learn more about The Dive?

•The Dive believes in providing every student with a casual, non-threatening environment to investigate God, explore the idea of having a personal relationship with Him and grow in that relationship.

•The Dive meets at 9 p.m. on Thursdays in Bowman Hall room 137.

•A schedule of events and Life Group study is available on their Web site at www.thedive.org.

“Facebook makes you feel more popular than you really are,” host Bryce McKenney, sophomore pre-med major, joked. “I have 5,954 friends, and I know about 10.”

The Dive had its first outreach program Thursday night in Bowman hall, packing room 137 to standing room-only capacity.

After a round of jokes and a video skit filmed by Dive members, the humor toned down and religious themes crept in.

The guest for the night was Elizabeth Franko. Franko is not a celebrity, but a sophomore communications major who recounted a story about having her head in a bucket, vomiting, after a night of drinking and bargaining with God.

Rick McKee, director of the Dive, then took the stage, and the lecture hall started to resemble a church. His words hung in the air with all the weight of a Catholic priest behind the pulpit, words echoing through the belfries.

Although the lecture’s setting was not a church, McKee described his group’s denomination as a “sincere and committed church that holds to traditional theology.”

Becca LeMasters, freshman French major, was fortunate enough to grab a seat about 10 rows up from the stage, slightly right of center.

“I’m not used to the big church crowd,” LeMasters said after the service. “I like to know everybody.”

LeMasters attends Kent Church of the Nazarene on Summit Street.

Despite feeling out of place in the sea of students her second week on campus, LeMasters said she will come back to the Dive.

Molly Lauck, senior early childhood education major, has been attending Dive meetings for four years and said she will continue to come.

“They challenge me to have a relationship with God and love God every day,” she said. “(The Dive) challenges my faith to love God more every day and to know God in a real way.”

The Dive is part of an international group called Campus Crusade for Christ. According to its Web site, www.ccci.org, CCC’s “goal for this decade is to help give every man, woman and child in the entire world an opportunity to find new life in Jesus Christ.”

McKee explains that “if I come up to you and say ‘I’m from the Campus Crusade for Christ and I want to save your damned soul,’ is a student going to talk to me? No.”

McKee says this is the reason for the name change and the talk show format. He said five to eight years ago, the Kent State Campus Crusade for Christ “bottomed out” with 20 to 30 students coming to meetings regularly. Five years ago, the name changed and, eventually, so did the attendance.

McKenney and McKee estimate The Dive has between 180 and 200 active members currently.

The Dive meets every Thursday in Bowman Hall, and a schedule of events and Life Group study is available on its Web site at www.thedive.org.

Contact religion reporter Pat Jarrett at [email protected]