For Immediate Release
(Madison, WI)—An article in the May 2, 2007 i>New York Times carries the headline “Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus.” The article states that at many secular college campuses, including Harvard, Colgate, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of California, Berkeley, officials have found students “drawn to religion and spirituality with more fervor than at any time they can remember.”
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which is now in its 65th year and has chapters on more than 570 U.S. college campuses, has indeed found increasing numbers of students interested in exploring Christianity. “In the last two school years we have seen exciting growth in the number of students who have come to faith in Jesus Christ,” says Terry Erickson, director of evangelism.
While annual conversion figures were relatively stable for much of the last decade, large increases have been seen in just the last two years. In the first semester of the 2006-2007 school year 1,025 student conversions were recorded through various InterVarsity events. InterVarsity sponsors GIGs (Groups Investigating God) on many college campuses, which are small group Bible studies. Last fall 1,466 students studied the life of Jesus Christ in InterVarsity GIGs.
In addition to weekly Bible studies, InterVarsity students share their faith through special on-campus evangelistic events, seasonal retreats, urban ministry experiences, alternative spring break trips, and large scale gatherings, such as the annual Greek Conferences for fraternity and sorority students and the triennial Urbana Student Missions Convention.
“Approximately one quarter of students in InterVarsity are self-identified non-Christians,” Terry Erickson says. “That shows some basic interest in exploring spiritual issues that we believe is widespread among the student body.”
The New York Times story referred to the 2004 study by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, that found almost half of all freshmen stating that they were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually in college. “Students are looking for answers that define themselves spiritually as well as shape their careers,” says InterVarsity president Alec Hill. “The campus is the strategic point where you can impact the world because of who these students will become. We want to develop students and faculty to change the world.”
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