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University Ministries relaunches small group initiative

Faculty and staff members will lead students in small groups this semester in order to help students find spiritual communities on campus.

University Ministries started a new program called CONNECT groups, which will give students the opportunity to connect with each other and the Belmont faculty in a new way.

University Ministries has offered similar small groups in the past and decided to bring them back because both faculty and students have said they want to participate in something like this. About 75 students have signed up for groups.

Christy Ridings, the associate university minister and director of Spiritual Formation, said each Connect group will have no more than 10 students. By keeping groups small, it maintains a level of intimacy for the discussion, said Ridings.

“It will be very communal, very discussion based,” said Ridings. “To give the opportunity for students to find a space to ask those kinds of questions, to think through issues of faith in their own lives.”

Each group has a specific title to help focus the theme and discussion in the group.

Dr. Steve Robinson, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and physics, will lead a group called “Fulfillment in God,” where he wants to talk about living life with a real purpose and meaning.

“I’d like to hear perspectives of people I don’t agree with, I’d like to give other people my perspectives on things, I’d like to just have an honest conversation about a lot of stuff and do that outside of a professional obligation,” said Robinson.

The Director of Parent and Family Programs Debbie Sprang is excited for her CONNECT group to be a space where students feel they have a freedom to be honest and real.

Sprang’s group is called “What Should I Do With My Life?” and its focus is on vocation and how to find one’s calling.

“Hopefully I can offer some encouragement and offer some hope,” said Sprang. “Each student will leave the small group with a sense of affirmation in terms of who they are.”

Ridings looks forward to seeing how the CONNECT groups grow and how students respond once the groups start meeting.

“This type of thing I think really meets a need that we have identified,” said Ridings. “This is one of the different ways that we’re kind of throwing out there to make sure that our students are finding a place here at Belmont and seeing Belmont as a place that they can grow spiritually.”

This article was written by Emily Allen. Photo courtesy of University Ministries.

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