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College Hill for Christ seeks to expand discussion

Every Friday night at 168 Lloyd Ave., about 30 students from Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design gather to have dinner, enjoy "worshipful music" and take part in small discussion seminars. They are members of College Hill for Christ, an inter-denominational group of Christians that began at Brown in 1970.

According to Alana Rabe '08 and Joses Ho '09, two of the group's leaders, many of CHC's goals involve expanding discussions to include all members of the Brown community - whether they are religious or not.

"We want Christians," Ho said, "but we want people from other faiths or beliefs or anything to come as well. ... Brown is a liberal environment, and College Hill for Christ wants to be a part of it."

Ho continued: "If Brown is liberal and inclusive, then we should be allowed ... to talk about things."

CHC exists as a chapter of a nationwide group called Campus Crusade for Christ. This organization describes itself as "an interdenominational ministry committed to helping take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations," according to its Web site. Its relationship with colleges and universities formally began in 1951 and has since grown to include ministries on 1,029 college campuses.

Operating out of Judson House at 168 Lloyd, College Hill for Christ is assisted by a staff of eight people assigned to them by Campus Crusade for Christ. Even though these staff members must raise their own salary, they still find time to coach student leaders, organize student events and raise money for CHC missions.

Financially, CHC receives much of its support from Christian Union, a group that was founded at Princeton University in 2002 with the mission of bringing "glory to Jesus Christ at the eight Ivy League Universities," according to its Web site.

Christian Union not only owns Judson House, but also acts as CHC's primary financial backer. A smaller sum is provided by the Undergraduate Finance Board. "Most of the money for College Hill for Christ comes from outside the school," Rabe said.

CHC's mission statement borrows directly from the CCC's, stating a goal of turning "lost students into Christ-centered laborers," according to its Web site.

Rabe explained that CHC's purpose is to "have a personal relationship with God, and to be lost is to not have a relationship with God."

Since its founding over three decades ago, CHC has grown to offer a range of programming, including "investigative meetings" which allow students from College Hill to engage in the discussion of spirituality.

Rabe herself has had an interesting experience expanding CHC and affiliating with other organizations that don't necessarily share its mission.

Last year, for example, CHC collaborated with QA to co-sponsor free HIV testing.

"Last semester I started going to Queer Alliance meetings," Rabe said, "and we started talking about HIV testing. I realized that this was a thing CHC could get involved with even if we didn't support the lifestyle choice. ... There is a misconception that Christians would never want to be involved with things like the Queer Alliance."

Recently, CHC teamed up with QA again to sponsor a discussion on queer sexuality and religion. The event featured five panelists representing the religions of Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, the United Church of Christ and Protestant Evangelism. A good turnout and an "interesting discussion" made the event a great demonstration of QA and CHC collaboration, according to CHC leaders.

"Officially," Ho said, "(CHC) adheres to the Bible. ... But there has been no resistance over collaboration with the Queer Alliance."

CHC has also partnered with the Brown Christian Fellowship to offer "investigative meetings" for community members interested in spirituality in Arnold Lounge every Wednesday night. These "investigative meetings" are not targeted just at Christians. Ho said the meetings exist as "a small (place) for spiritually-interested people to go." On average the meetings attract two or three people who can talk one-on-one with members of the Brown Christian Fellowship or CHC.

This fall, CHC sponsored a talk with author Bayard Taylor to discusses themes from his recently published book "Blah, Blah, Blah: Making Sense of the World's Spiritual Chatter." CHC also recently traveled to Ashford, Conn., for its annual fall retreat.

Looking ahead, CHC hopes to begin its Angel Tree Ministry soon, a program that provides presents for children on behalf of their incarcerated parents. CHC sees this as a way to engage with the community at-large and assist kids in the Providence area.

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