How religious groups on campus give back
The A.D. Bruce Religion Center is a place for students in religious organizations to build a community around what it means to be at UH.
“The A.D. Bruce Religion Center is technically a student center,”said Janelle Hooper, director for ministry with children and pastor at Houston Lutheran Campus ministry. “We give students, staff and faculty a way to connect around something that goes beyond academics.”
These organizations all share the same goal; to give back to their community while spreading the word of their faith in a positive light. And to reach this goal, they do whatever they can both overseas and within the Houston community to reach out to as many people as possible.
Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry
Hooper said the Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry’s prime goal is to develop its community both within Houston and at UH.
The group volunteers at a number of different places in a number of different ways. Including: volunteering at the food bank, helping those involved in human trafficking and having some members do advocacy work for issues like immigration and world hunger.
Instead of simply trying to convert as many people as possible, the Houston Lutheran Campus Ministry aims to show students that they can be fulfilled outside of just their work. And that God can also give them fulfillment in their lives, Hooper said.
“We want to be a resource on campus for students who need help and offer them a safe place to grow in their spirituality,” Hooper said.
However, their reach is not just limited to students, staff and faculty are also able to participate in the service.
During the second half of May, almost a dozen students traveled to Israel as part of Houston Hillel. In order to learn about its history and the modern State of Israel they engaged in an open dialogue with Jewish and Arab people within the country about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We came away with a greater understanding of the complexity inherent in such a long lasting conflict, compassion for all people who suffer and hope that a lasting peace can be achieved in our lifetimes,” the organization’s executive director Rabbi Kenneth Weiss said.
Weiss believes that trips like these are important for creating a greater sense of community within the organization. And that during the trip, members were able to get to know each other much better.
“Our students not only got to know each other better as friends,” Weiss said. “But they also learned about each other’s political, religious and cultural views. Everyone who travelled to Israel is looking forward to the coming semester because they can build on the strong friendships they nurtured while in Israel.”
Houston Hillel hopes that it can continue to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they can enrich the Houston Jewish community, the Jewish people and the world.
Catholic Student Organization
For the Catholic student organization, their goal this year is to continue to serve the local community, said the organization’s director Father John Paul Bolger.
Bolger said that in the mission trips his students have gone on, they have learned that it is important to work with others to achieve common goals and to appreciation the dignity of others, regardless of race, creed or socioeconomic status.
Outreach is very important to Bolger, and he considers it to be a responsibility among all faith groups.
“Mission trips, whether local or international, raise awareness to the inter-connectedness of all peoples, regardless of differences,” Bolger said. “As a community of faith, we have a responsibility to serve all.”