I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to engage so fully with a church in my university city. I’ve been called into a role of leadership for the music of my church, and although I have family here too, nothing else has made Durham feel more like home.
I’ve been lucky enough to have lots of great opportunities for making music in church, and being able to use the gifts that God has given me to lead others in worship. So when I came to University, I was looking for a church that had a thriving musical life, as that’s really important to me in my relationship with God. If you’re looking for a church in a new city, I’d suggest thinking about the things that will really make your church feel familiar and comforting. What do you most value about your church at home? Can you find another church that values this too?
Another thing I value about my church is the opportunity to engage with the local community. There’s a healthy number of students among the congregation – but we don’t just cram ourselves into a pew and never talk to anyone else! And the ‘locals’, for their part, value the student presence enormously, and are really welcoming and supportive. It’s not a ‘them and us’ situation at all; even though we’re not ‘permanent’ members of the church, as students we all feel fully invited to participate in the life of the church, even in roles of leadership.
University can be a really challenging time for all of us; last year I went through some very difficult times. But having around us a group of our brothers and sisters in Christ who we know really well, and who make us feel like a welcome part of a community, can be enormously supportive – whether they are students or not. Don’t let being a student put you off from engaging fully in a community of amazing people; you’ll really miss out.