New SFOs help students take ownership of faith
New spiritual formation opportunities (SFOs) are available to students this semester based on student needs. Programs like Living Water and Art and Our Mess provide resources for all students to make their faith their own.
“We’re trying to find a new niche of students to connect with,” said Tim Longbrake, assistant director of spiritual formation. “We didn’t really have anything that was tailored for students that were interested in creation, like creative things and expressing themselves that way.”
Art and Our Mess, facilitated by Karole Longbrake, is the result of the need analysis.
“We all have messes in our lives,” K. Longbrake said. “We have theses messes in our lives… not to hide them but be real about that mess.”
The SFO, offered at 10:05 a.m. each Friday as part of the Friday Four, is based on grace and its relation to a specific art project, K Longbrake said.
Be: Justice, another Friday Four SFO, has expanded for the fall semester. Amber Balash, University Relations Content Manager, facilitates the program.
“We want students to live fully integrated lives that are aware of every part of life,” Balash said. “[Be: Justice] connects students to a lot of alumni and community members. It fills a specific niche, especially in the area of social justice.”
Following the regular speaker at Be:Justice, students now have the opportunity to volunteer at Refuge of Hope, a downtown Canton homeless ministry, to practice serving Christ’s kingdom and living out justice.
Balash said she encourages students to be agents of change and serve the community wholeheartedly, and the meal service is a concrete tool used to do so.
Living Water is another new SFO offered each Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Edy Herrera leads this Holy Spirit-focused and interactive discussion that requires participation. Herrera is a preacher at Love Canton.
All of the changes arise from student feedback, said Linda Leon, director of the office of spiritual formation.
“The program is malleable so that we can make adjustments each semester, and we want to do that,” Leon said. “Students can tell us what they think. We read every single comment. It matters.”
Since student interest and need drives SFO programming, Leon said she hopes students will lean into SFOs this semester.
“Lean in a little bit and choose… not just passive… take ownership,” Leon said.
With over 300 SFOs offered each semester, there is an opportunity to fit everyone. If students do not find growth in a program, they are encouraged to leave comments for the office of spiritual formation. The information collected each November helps determine programming for the next semester.
Kendra Hartman is a Staff Writer for The Aviso