InterVarsity Reaffiliated at Georgetown University

News Release
For Immediate Release

(Madison, WI) – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA will resume on-campus activities at Georgetown University this fall, as a recognized affiliate of the Office of Campus Ministry. InterVarsity was among six groups that were disaffiliated nine months ago. “I am very pleased with this news,” said InterVarsity president Alec Hill. “I give a lot of credit to our staff and student leaders who did not overreact. They were firm but diplomatic in their dealing with university officials. We are grateful for the good spirit of dialog shown by Georgetown as this agreement was worked out.”

Georgetown University has announced the creation of a new Council of Affiliated Protestant Ministries, as recommended by an Advisory Committee on Protestant Ministry. The Advisory Committee was appointed by University vice president Philip Boroughs last fall, when controversy broke out following the sudden disaffiliation of six Protestant ministries, including InterVarsity.

“It wasn’t theological issues that led to the decision [not to renew affiliations], but rather a lack of communication,” Boroughs said, in a Georgetown University news release announcing his acceptance of the Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Boroughs praised the work of the Advisory Committee. “It is my hope that this new framework, like the collaborative process that recommended its creation, will continue to foster inclusivity and respect for our various theological and liturgical perspectives,” he wrote in a letter to the university community.

The Advisory Committee also recommended creation of a more broadly-based Protestant Student Forum, to replace the current Protestant Student Association. It would include student representatives of all protestant groups that work with Georgetown Campus Ministry. InterVarsity staff member Kevin Offner, who was a member of the Advisory Committee, reported that InterVarsity and the other disaffiliated ministries have all been invited back. “We have been invited to return to campus with full privileges,” he said.

Offner is pleased with the new procedures that were recommended by the Advisory Committee, particularly the efforts to improve communication. “Being part of a leadership team together and seeing each other more regularly will be a good thing,” he said. “All of the protestant ministries will now be on the same level. There will no longer be a two-tiered structure.”

He was also pleased that the revised Covenant Agreement that ministries must sign does not restrict InterVarsity’s witness on the Georgetown University campus. It condemns proselytism, but it’s specific definition of proselytism, as “any effort to influence people in ways that de-personalizes or deprives them of their inherent value as persons, or the use of any coercive techniques or manipulative appeals,” is in contrast with InterVarsity’s style of ministry.

After the sudden disaffiliation announcement last summer, the InterVarsity undergraduate and graduate student chapters continued to meet, even though access to campus facilities where they usually gathered was blocked. “For the most part our daily operations were not affected that much,” Offner said. But the InterVarsity staff and students are glad all uncertainty has now been removed on whether InterVarsity will be a part of the Georgetown University community.

This is the second successful resolution this year to a challenge against InterVarsity’s ministry on campus. Last month Federal Judge John Shabaz approved an agreement between InterVarsity and the University of Wisconsin to resolve InterVarsity’s lawsuit over the derecognition of the student chapter on the UW-Superior campus. “We believe our vigorous defense of our students’ freedom to worship at the UW-Superior, and at Georgetown, will help protect the rights of students on these campuses in the future, and on other campuses,” said president Alec Hill.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is a Christian ministry working on U.S. college campuses since 1941. InterVarsity currently oversees 843 student chapters on 573 college and university campuses across the United States.

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Gordon Govier
Media Relations