The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 20, 1978, Page page 6, Image 6

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    daily nebraskan
Wednesday, September 20, 1978
Students seek fellowship in campus religious groups
page 6
The increasing interest in religion at UNL is not the
result of an emotional fad, but rather it reflects a growing
desire among students to know Christ, said the director of
the UNL Baptist Student Union.
Brett Yohn said BSU has experienced a 30 percent
growth in membership over the last year while other
campus religious organizations report steady gains.
He said all Big Eight schools are experiencing an
increase in religious interest similar to UNL's and he
believes this is a national trend.
Unlike the highly emotional Jesus movement of the
1960s Yohn said students now are searching for a personal
relationship with Christ through spiritual and religious
truth found in the Bible.
"The economy and lack of job security increase the
desire within students to know who they are," he said.
Organizes, teaches, counsels
Yohn, a Southern Baptist minister, helps the 130 to
150 members of BSU to organize Bible studies, teaches
members how to lead study discussions and counsels
students who need help.
Students are moving toward a more personal faith in
Christ, he said, and shy away from established worship.
"They don't want to go through a travel agency for
their religion. They see a home church which is life
less to them and don't flock to similar places on campus,"
he said. '
Yohn said these active evanglical groups need an autho
rity figure which they have found in the Bible.
Leaders of student church groups disagree with Yohn,
saying church ties are as strong or stronger than ever.
Gene Toul, director of Navigators, a Bible study
group, said his organization encourages- its members to
maintain strong ties with their home churches.
Parental involvement
Navigators also emphasize parental involvement in the
"Some groups overlook this aspect, but is important
for parents to know what type of organization their
children are involved in," he said.
Dave Nelson, present of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellow
ship said students in that organization have very strong
ties to organized churches, but no one denomination com
poses a majority of the membership.
Nelson said Inter-Varsity is unique in the fact that it
is the only religious fellowship organized and directed
entirely by students.
All three organizations hold weekly meetings and small
group Bible studies ranging from 3 to 8 people.
BSU and Inter-Varsity gain members as students bring
friends to meetings with them, while Campus Crusade for
Christ, directed by Dave Eggert, and Navigators take a
more active approach to membership.
Recruits from residents halls
Members of Navigators contact people in their resi
dence halls who they think might be interested in the
group, Toul said.
Inter-Varsity, Navigators and Campus Crusade each
have nearly 100 members.
Way Campus Outreach, a group of about 50, is an
attempt by the Followers of The Way to bring the truth
of the Bible and God to students who are searching for
answers to fill a void in their lives, said Harry Berggren,
22, a student member of the group.
Followers of The Way ministry presents keys to the
scripture that help its followers understand Christianity,
Berggren said.
These keys were discovered by Rev. Weirwille in 1953
while studying Greek and Aramaic translations of the
Bible, he said. .
Christian organization
Berggren described The Way Ministry as a Christian
organization rather than a religion.
"In many religions what has evolved is a bending of the
doctrine of God with the doctrine of man, which is often
unscriptural in its basis," he said.
The main doctrine of The Way Ministry is that "the
word of God is the will of od," Berggren said. Thus
members of the organization closely study the Bible to see
the truth that God has set forth.
This search and belief in the truth is tested by the
practice of faith bearing.
"Jesus Christ practiced faith healing and he said we will
' '
Photo by MaryAnne Colon
Religious expression can take many forms, from the traditional to the new.
be able to do even greater things," he said.
The healing can be either spiritual or physical and
works because of the great truth found within the Bible,
Berggren said.
Healing possible
The healing will only be possible if the follower is con
fident in the faith and has a mature understanding of it,
he said.
Follows of The Way do not, however, discredit the
benefits of medicine and technology, Berggren, a pre-med
major, said.
A religious organization based on a vocation of tech
nology is available to students in the College of Engineer
ing. Engineers for Christ offers engineering students a
chance to relate their faith to their school work and
future profession, said Fran Solomon, secretary to the
organization's adviser.
Although most of the 20 to 25 members are engineer
ing students, any Christian associated with UNL, including
faculty and staff, is welcome to join, Solomon said. The
group is not affiliated with any particular denomination,
she added.
Activities sponsored
Solomon said the club sponsors various social and relig
ious activities, such as weekly Bible studies, speakers,
group fellowships, volleyball and picnics.
The two-year-old club is the only one of its kind in the
United States, she said.
UNL also has a 25 -member chapter of the Fellowship
of Christian Athletes.
The group has no paid staff members so individual
volunteers minister to the athletes, Yohn said.
He said there have been 15 to 20 coaches and varsity
players meeting for prayer and Bible readings before, this
years' football game.
"This is a self-organized effort and represents a desire
that wasn't present 4 or 5 years ago."
Christian fellowship also is sought by residents of the
Agape House, a Christian living cooperative at 1636 Q St.
Non-denominational co-op
The house is connected with College Career Christian
Fellowship and originated from that group's desire for a
non-denominational co-op.
Members of the Jewish student community can find
similar fellowship with the Hillel organization.
The Hillel Foundation, a national organization for
Jewish students, will be reorganized at UNL this year.
The purpose of the organization is to fulfill the social
and cultural needs of Jewish students, said adviser
Annette Freeman.
The club will sponsor speakers, films'and social events,
she said. It also will place students in local homes to cele
brate Jewish holidays according to the traditional cere
monial customs, she said.
Rides arranged
Students can arrange for rides to and from the
synagogues by 'contacting the organization, Freeman
The increased interest in religion also is reflected in the
enrollment of UNL's 12 religion classes, offered by the
Religious Studies Program.
"I would certainly agree that there is an increased in
terest," said John Turner, instructor of religion classes in
the history department. "Although I'm not in a position
to document these facts, I'd say the mood of the time, the
uncertainty, adds to the increase."
Enrollment in Doug Erlandson's philosophy of religion
class has increased from one section of 25 to 30 students
per semester in 1972 to two sections of about 50 students
each this semester.
Still actively involved
A large number of his students were actively involved
in their religion in 1972 and Erlandson said many still are.
Turner said a majority of his students are conservative
and fundamental in their religious beliefs, but want little
to do with an organized church.
If students do attend a church it is usually non-denominational,
he said and students usually will join a private
Bible study to fulfill their religious needs.
Plans to expand the religious studies program include
development of a 100 level Introduction to Religion class,
which will present provocative, biased guest lecturers, he
Campus ministries offer variety of services for students
Congregation size at Wesley House has
not increased noticeably, said Duane
Hutchinson, minister of the campus
Bible studies and religion courses are
being filled more rapidly than in previous
years, he said.
Hutchinson said the active involvement
among students in the 1960s is experienc
ing a revival after the period of intense
privacy in the early 1970s.
Students are more "searching," willing
to get involved, he said.
Although not always more serious in
their religious beliefes. students are more
willing to talk about them, said Larry
Doerr, director of Commonplace.
Religion courses offered
This uncertainty and willingness to
discuss their religion has prompted the
campus ministries-Wesley House.
Commonplace, the Lutheran Student
Center and Chapel, The Baptist Students
Fellowship, and the Episcopal Student
Center to offer 13 non-credit religion
courses, Doerr said.
Labelled Discovery '78, these include
classes in Christian literature and Christian
ity's relation to feminism, Marxism, science
and sexism.
Classes of this nature have not been
offered in 8 to 10 years, Doerr said.
"This is a period when people are
confused. College helps to create an
atmosphere of questioning and chances
need to be available to discuss feelings,
issues and religion," he said.
Six-week classes
About 50 people pre-registered for the
classes which began Monday. These after
noon and evening classes meet weekly for
six weeks.
The campus ministries also provide
other services to UNL students.
The Luthern Student Center and Chapel
offeres worship services, counseling and
social functions.
Canoe trips, ski trips, retreats, hayrack
rides and community service projects are
some of the activities planned for this year,
according to church intern Jim Holthus.
Students also are welcome to stop by
enjoy the center, which offers a lounge,
game room and kitchen, he said.
Weekly masses
Catholic students can take advantage of
the Newman Center, which holds weekly
About 500 students from the 2.500 to
3.000 memeber congregation regularly
participate in church activities, said Father
Leonard Kalin. Newman Center Chaplin.
These include a function every Sunday
night, choirs, visitation groups to Lancaster
Manor and the Lincoln Regional Center,
and various other social and service pro-'
jects, he said.
Commonplace is involved in the
University Child Care Project and offers
student internships through the "Students
in Community Action" program.
Non-denominational services
Wesley House offers non-denominational
worship services Sunday mornings at
9:30 and 11:00. Hutchinson said there are
500 to 600 who attend fairly regularly
The church sponsors a choir and other
social activities for its members, and is
connected with the Y-Pals child care
Wesley House used to take an active role
in shaping the political climate of Lincoln.
Hutchinson said, but now takes a quieter
approach to serving the community
Students are turning away from relig
ious cults and drugs, he said. "They want
to get through school, get a job, start a
family and get going in life," he said.