AU’s campus ministries program allows students to branch out beyond campus and reach the Anderson community through different ministries. The ministries involve working with at-risk youth and ministry through the arts and prayer.
Senior Christian ministries major Mackenzie Fair is one of the co-leaders for campus ministries. Specifically, she is in charge of prayer ministry this school year.
“My position as prayer ministry coordinator is basically leading campus in prayer,” Fair said. “It has looked different the past couple of years, but this year we are going to be meeting monthly to plan events.”
The 24-hour prayer event and prayer walk that took place last week was the first event that Fair coordinated for prayer ministry. There will be different events each month throughout the school year.
“My hope is that every month, there is a different kind of opportunity for students,” Fair said. “Even if it’s just a group spontaneously gathering during the week to pray for someone in crisis, I want to be part of that.”
She said that she highly encourages students to join any of the campus ministries, because it’s a perfect way to connect with the community of Anderson outside of the campus.
“This opportunity is specifically geared towards serving others,” Fair said. “It’s a way to be with people from AU, but serve outwardly. It’s not about doing something just for enjoyment, but it’s because you care about people in the community.”
A misconception that Fair has seen on campus is that you have to be a Christian to be in campus ministries, but she said that’s not the case.
“You can be part of campus ministries and not share where you are with your faith,” she said. “It’s a way to work together with people you may know, or you may not know, and serve someone else. It’s a safe environment where you can experience the wider community of Anderson.”
There are many different ministries to choose from, and Fair said students can try multiple ministries throughout the year.
“You can join anytime throughout the year,” Fair said. “If one doesn’t work, you can find a different one that does. It’s really open to everybody always.”
Senior language arts teaching major Connar Stetzel is the student coordinator for Juvenile Justice this year.
Juvenile Justice is a program where AU students go to Project Hope, a program focused on ministering to teens, in downtown Anderson to interact, minister and have a meal with at-risk youth in the area.
“The kids at Project Hope are on their last chance before they have to go to places like juvenile detention centers,” Stetzel said. “This is a required program that they have to go to after school, which basically functions to keep them off the streets and make sure that they have a hot meal.”
For this ministry, Stetzel said that the group will go for a couple hours to hang out, eat and play games with the kids.
He had a specific experience last year that made him want to be the coordinator of Juvenile Justice this year.
“I got asked last year to lead worship with a friend for the kids at the Pendleton juvenile detention center,” Stetzel said. “The kids that could go to the chapel we played at were there because they were awarded for good behavior.”
He said that they got to talk to the kids, hang out with them and pour into them while they were there.
“It was a super awesome experience, and it’s a huge reason why I agreed to take this job,” Stetzel said. “You don’t think about what those kids are going through; you just know that they’re at risk.
“Juvenile Justice and other experiences like it in the past have showed me that these kids are so much more than just their status. They have gone through a lot of difficult things in their life, things I will probably never have to deal with, and they just need poured into and loved on. They don’t get that anywhere else.”
Stetzel said that AU students have an awesome opportunity to be positive role models for the youth in Anderson.
“We always talk about building the community of Anderson and pouring into it,” he said. “The best way that we can do that is by pouring into the youth, because they’re the next generation that is going to inhabit this city.”
Senior nursing major Avery Heatwole is the student coordinator for Vision Revision chapels throughout the school year.
“Vision Revision is a ministry that involves creating several chapel services that give the student body a chance to see worship and the Lord in new, out of the box ways,” Heatwole said. “Whether it’s film, dance, drama or painting, Vision Revision creates a space for new encounters.”
Heatwole said that the chance to see different art forms in a worship setting allows students to have the opportunity to experience something new with God. She also said it gives students the opportunity to express themselves within those art forms.
“It is a really unique opportunity for students to share their different forms of worship with the rest of campus,” she said. “There is a lot of creativity here, and it is a really fun way of expression that is not always seen during the busy routines of academic life.”
Heatwole hopes that Vision Revision will encourage students to share their talents, passion and worship with the rest of the student body.
“My goal in coordinating these chapel services is to leave the campus with a memorable experience that is eye-opening to their fellow students who they do life with every day,” she said. “I also hope to provide a space where the Lord can use each person’s own story and unique gifts to speak to and impact their own lives.”
Study Buddies, Differently Abled, T.E.A.M. and the Christian Center are other ministries that students can participate in. For more information on the ministries, visit the interest fair this Friday in the valley.