Finding faith and fellowship outside of the Mennonite tradition

Goshen College provides a rich tradition for students and employees alike.  A strong tie to its Mennonite roots is evident through hymn sings, last names and familial connections on campus. Although the Menno-identity is unmistakable, GC is home to students of more than 40 different Christian denominations.  Students, regardless of background, have found homes in local Mennonite churches, while others have found church homes elsewhere.

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church

Nereida Jimenez, a first-year, heard about St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church as a prospective student while searching for churches in Goshen with her parents. Although she does not know any other Catholic students on campus, she enjoys going to a Catholic church where she knows what to expect.

“It feels like I never left the church at home,” Jimenez said.

She attends church in Goshen alone and admits that going with other college students would be nice. When the weather permits, Jimenez rides her bike to church. Other days, she finds a ride from a GC employee.

Harvest Community Church

After being invited by her aunt and uncle, Brook Hostetter, a junior, began regularly attending Harvest Community Church during her first year of college, often bringing friends from GC with her. She enjoys the contemporary worship style and feels that people at Harvest are passionate about praising God.

“God spoke words into my life that I really needed to hear,” Hostetter said.

Hostetter is happy about having been involved in various parts of Harvest. Through Wednesday night meals at the young adult pastor’s house, she has gotten to know other young adults in the Goshen area. She also started a college-age Bible study, preached a sermon and attended prayer meetings.

Downtown @ 808

Friends from GC brought Kolton Nay, a first-year, to Downtown @ 808, which meets in the Goshen Theater. The group of three to five students continues to regularly attend on Sunday mornings. A unique worship style has kept Nay attending since October. Contemporary music and a time for responding after sermons engage Nay in praise and thought.

“You can learn a lot from the people who talk,” Nay said. “It’s a good experience for me.”

According to Nay, members at 808 are “down to earth” and “striving after a community of faith.” He is inspired by members’ willingness to share their experiences and troubles with the congregation.

Grace Community Church

A church-seeking journey took Sandrine Sandrali, a sophomore,  from Mennonite churches to a Ukrainian church and a Missionary church, but ended at Grace Community Church. Sandrali attends services with friends on Sundays and also participates in occasional college services. She enjoys seeing the preacher engaging the congregation with passionate sermons.

”They are practical,” Sandrali said, “related to your own spiritual walk with God.”

Sandrali has felt welcomed and engaged by members of the congregation at Grace as she’s gotten to know them on Sunday mornings. Although the people are different from those at her home church in Rwanda, the worship style is familiar.

Written by Quinn Brenneke

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