At Walla Walla University we seek to create a campus environment where a growing, personal walk with God is nurtured in each student. As we begin this new year, we are excited to share a few of the inspiring spiritual activities happening on campus to help our students, faculty and staff grow in their spiritual walks.
Small groups: Connecting and growing
While worship services have an important place, junior theology major Parker Leclerc also chooses to participate in one of several small group Bible studies. Each week he and about 10–15 other WWU students dissect a passage of scripture and discuss the questions it poses. “I love that it is so Bible-based,” says Parker. “Worship services are super important because they encourage an abstract relationship, but for me small groups make it more concrete. It forces me to ask questions about my spiritual walk, why I believe, what is my foundation.” For Leclerc, being able to actively participate makes spirituality more tangible. “Our small group lets us actively participate in getting closer to God and to others,” he says.
Leclerc adds that his small group also builds personal connections with his friends. Parker sees his small group as a safe space not only to study the Bible, but to share in each other’s struggles and experiences. Each week they start their meeting by checking in on one another. He noticed that he has started to see some of his personal shortcomings by articulating his experiences. “Everyone sees who I am, so I see myself too,” says Leclerc. The support and encouragement from his friends motivates him to grow stronger in his walk with God.
Berean fellowship: Finding family in fellowship
Romans 12:4–5 says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others.”
Nyasha Taruvinga, junior social work major, said, "This verse exemplifies the presence and the atmosphere Berean provides. From the African- American gospel experience to the testimonies and praise, Berean Fellowship has become my second family. Regardless of one’s race, gender, or age, the family aspect Berean presents provides a sense of belonging and warmth."
ReNew Sabbath school: A safe place to grow
ReNew is a student-led class on campus that focuses on small group discussions and creating community through music. "This is my second year being involved with ReNew as part of the leadership team, and it has been a huge blessing to get to work with a team of dedicated students from a variety of majors and backgrounds," said Kiersten Ekkens, senior strategic communication major. "We try to focus on diversity and most of our leadership team this year is female."
"ReNew came into my life at a point where I was struggling a bit spiritually in the aftermath of an abusive situation with a family at my home church. And rather than drawing me away from the semi-conservative Adventism that I had grown up in, it gave me a place to see that grow in connection with other young people, many of whom were asking the same questions I was.
"To me, ReNew is a safe place to ask those questions about faith and how it fits into our rapidly changing society and post-Christian world. To me, ReNew is more than a community of faith, it’s family."
Posted on March 15, 2022. A version of this story was published in Northwest Adventists on January 1, 2021.