By Stephen Gruber-Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org
An on-campus Christian group, Grinnellians Seeking Christ (GSC), has changed their mission statement this semester to simplify their message and help people remember what they represent.
“We are a diverse yet united Christian community that seeks to reflect God’s love for all people,” the statement reads. “We value inquisitive minds. We affirm all gender identities and sexual orientations. We respect diverse faith journeys.”
GSC was founded in May 2011 and has been active on campus for over a year.
The process of simplifying the statement began last semester. GSC student leaders Laura Krull ’13 and Jenny Peek ’13 wanted it to be easier for people to understand what the group is all about without having to memorize a long mission statement.
Peek said it was helpful for the group to think about which values are really important to them. She mentioned that affirming all gender identities and sexual orientations was something that they wanted to emphasize.
“We wanted to highlight that, just because it’s an important piece that not many people might know about. To really just say we really are welcoming to all, but especially to this group,” Peek said.
Being open to other faiths and perspectives is important to the group as well.
“The point is very much to facilitate dialogue,” Krull said. “We’re trying to provide a safe space for people to explore their own faith journeys and how they relate to God.”
One way GSC creates this space is through their weekly worship meetings Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in Loose Lounge; four student leaders work with Presbyterian pastor Kirsten Klepfer to guide the group and help create a welcoming community.
“We come together. We sing worship songs. Sometimes we have a student just share his or her reflections,” Krull said.
Around 15 people usually attend the worship sessions. Krull and Peek encouraged anyone interested to join them.
“We’ve seen an increase in our numbers this semester, which is really exciting,” Krull said.
GSC also facilitates two Bible study groups, with around eight members each. One group is called Queer and Christian and is meant specifically for people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, as well as Christian.
“Those two [identities], being queer and Christian, that are often seen as very different, can actually come together and be a really great identity,” Krull said.
The other Bible study is an Inductive Bible study, which Krull co-leads with Clare Gunshenan ’14. It focuses on the text and is designed to be accessible to people without prior knowledge of Christianity.
Peek said that GSC formed because she and other students saw the need for a space on campus for students to examine and embrace their faith.
Before GSC existed, there was a group on campus called Grinnell College Christian Fellowship (GCCF), which didn’t allow LGBT students to be leaders in the group. GCCF no longer exists as an official student group.
Peek also acknowledged that the formation of GSC was partially in response to GCCF, but said that their primary motivation was to create a different kind of space on campus that would be more inclusive.
In addition to their worship sessions and Bible studies, GSC organizes the 2 a.m. pancake events during the Hell Weeks of both semesters for stressed out students.
They also act as Friends of 10/10, handing out water bottles and animal crackers to people at the party and also annually cook quiches for Community Meal.
“It’s just a good way for us to get outside of the campus community and serve the Grinnell community,” Peek said.