According to CORE, there are ten religion-based organizations at SRU. Nine are Christian-based, and the tenth, Collaborative Faiths, is an interfaith club. The religious communities on campus are close-knit, providing a safe, welcoming space for anyone to grow in their faith.
One newer Christian organization is Delight, a nationwide ministry for college women, which Trinity Romesburg brought to campus in fall 2021. There are over 200 Delight ministries across the country.
Romesburg is a senior majoring in public relations and integrated marketing communication. She has been president of Delight since last fall, and a Christian all her life.
“Coming to college, it could be a little bit challenging … to stay strong and keep involved,” she said. “But during the pandemic, I’d say I got really strong in my faith again. I wouldn’t say I ever lost it, but I would say I was distracted and now I’m fully into my faith.”
Romesburg called Delight “a place for women to find themselves, to feel accepted, to feel encouraged, and to know it’s okay to have struggles. We want to walk beside you through those struggles.”
As a women’s organization, Delight places emphasis on relationships between women. They often hold “Delight dates,” where two women are paired up at random to spend time together. The ministry also holds worship nights, prayer walks, Bible studies and service events, such as Operation Christmas Child.
According to Romesburg, since last fall, the club has become more widely known on campus. Ninety-five women attended the first Delight meeting at SRU; now, there are roughly 200 members.
“We’ve heard many testimonies,” said Romesburg. “A few girls have said they felt like they finally had a place to be themselves, or there was something missing in their lives and they found it here. I think that has been good for this campus.
“In college, it’s easy to feel alone, and feel like you’re alone in your struggles. … The last thing we want is for anyone to feel alone on campus. I’m so thankful that [members are] in a space where they can be themselves and not feel judged.”
The experience of leading a student ministry has inspired Romesburg to pursue ministry after graduation.
“If it wasn’t for Delight, I don’t know if I ever would have had that passion for ministry,” she said. “I feel like that’s my purpose here on Earth.”
For junior Alexa Webb, who became a Christian shortly before college, meeting other Christians on campus helped her grow in her faith. A roommate introduced her to Cru, and she joined a community group for weekly Bible studies.
“Going from not knowing anyone that was super strong in their faith, and then coming to campus, I’ve been able to watch new people come [to Cru],” Webb said.
She described the club as “every day, all the time.” Aside from weekly meetings and events, members get together and bond every weekend.
“Our organization has been really blessed with people that love what they’re doing,” said Webb. “It’s crazy, the amount of time people take out of their days, but it goes a long way.
“There’s a false perception sometimes that when people come to their faith, life just gets perfect. That’s not the case at all. Everyone has their own things that they’re going through, sometimes in the spiritual sense, but also in everyday life. The community gives you a place to be honest with people, sharing things that you might not feel comfortable sharing with others.”
Since she came to campus, Webb has become more open about her faith, reaching out to people who may need a community.
“In faith-based organizations, people are afraid that the people there will judge them, and that does occur,” she said. “The whole point of going there is to not feel judged. … Community should be a place where you feel like you can be yourself.”
Hunter Bell is working on cultivating an interfaith community through Collaborative Faiths. He is a junior political science major and one of a few Jewish students at SRU.
“We have had mostly small events,” Bell said. “They’ve been social events within the club itself. Because we are a new club, we still have relatively small numbers.”
On Dec. 7, Collaborative Faiths will hold a Chanukah event in the ski lodge with a higher expected attendance.
There are no Jewish student organizations on campus. He called his experience as a religious minority “a little daunting sometimes.”
“However, I grew up in an area where it was a small Jewish community to begin with,” Bell said. “Slippery Rock University in and of itself is a very welcoming environment. Personally, aside from a lack of kosher dining options, I never really had problems.
“[My religion] affects my life quite a bit. There are times where I step out of classes because I need to pray. There are times when it can be tricky finding dining options, however, I tend to eat vegetarian just to play it safe. I am an off-campus student, which makes it easier.”
There is a synagogue in Butler, Temple B’nai Abraham, which Bell attends along with other club members.
“Quite a few of the members of Slippery Rock’s Jewish community are part of Collaborative Faiths,” Bell said. “Part of what I love about it is that sometimes, we’ll all carpool and go to the synagogue together, we will go out to eat together … In Judaism, one of the biggest aspects is community.”