Faith exploration

Grand Valley State University’s Interfaith Advisory Council is sponsoring the first annual Spiritual Life Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center on Tuesday, Oct. 21. The event will feature 15 on-campus religious organizations.

Todd Cox, student organization development coordinator at the Office of Student Life, is the primary adviser who worked with the student organizations Better Together and Hillel to organize the fair. Cox said the event is similar to Campus Life Night where different groups have tables set up to provide students with information.

“The whole point is to get students involved in faith-based organizations, if they’re interested,” Cox said. “It is primarily for new students to come and talk to other students to find out more. We want to get students connected and make groups stronger.”

A 2011 climate survey shows that 67 percent of faculty, staff and students at GVSU identified as Christian, while 10 percent identified as non-Christian and 21 percent reported no religious affiliation.

Cox said there are many Christian organizations on campus, but they all do things a different way. At the fair, students can see these groups and decide which one they like the best.

However, Cox acknowledged that some religious groups might not be represented because they do not have an organization at GVSU. Cox said students can use this as an opportunity.

“We want to make sure students know they can start their own organization if they don’t see one that meets their needs,” Cox said. “A lot of it is just awareness that these options exist.”

Getting involved in student organizations, whether religious or not, has benefits for students, Cox said. He added that research shows that students who participate more will be more successful in academic and social life.

“The greatest human need is a sense of community,” Cox said. “Faith-based organizations provide a sense of community to their adherents and a safe place to be vulnerable with fellow students.”

Shelby Bruseloff, a junior at GVSU, worked with Cox to plan the event. Bruseloff is the president of Hillel, the Jewish student organization on campus. She said she helped found Better Together, a new organization that works with the Kaufman Interfaith Institute.

“No matter what your religion or non-religion is, we come together for open dialogue and community service,” Bruseloff said.

She added that the event can benefit students who are unsure about what group to join.

“Students might not know there is an organization that they believe in,” she said. “Going to this event could help them more in that spiritual journey.”

For more information, browse the faith-based organizations on Orgsync.

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