Best wishes for all students, staff and faculty on Christmas break from RLC. Be safe with travels and carry love with you in all your endeavors this break.
The Chapel, in conjunction with SGA, is revamping and revitalizing Dirlam Lounge to offer students an alternative space to study, hold club meetings, chat with professors, relax on campus, and curl up with a cup of Holy Grounds’ coffee. With the exciting arrival of the busy and bustling Kent Campus Center, RLC is looking to provide students with a quiet getaway to hull up with some hot cocoa and that paper due at 8:00 a.m. This facelift is hoping to include new flooring, lighting, paint, and furniture and will hopefully give the room a more intimate feel in contrast, and yet complimentary, to the open, exciting, and busy feel of the new Kent Campus Center.
The new campus center, and what it will offer the Simpson community, has generated excitement in students, faculty and staff, and potential students; however, one would be delusional or naïve to assume that the needs of every Simpson student could be fulfilled in one building. The Student Government Association and the Religious Life Community are by no means attempting to compete with the new student center. Rather, we want to provide a complimentary space that will serve students interested in a slow, quiet, and less chaotic atmosphere on the opposite side of campus.
Plans are being formulated and approved – changes are quite underway. Though the changes and additions are altered from the original plan, it is still our goal to make these changes over Christmas break. Dirlam Lounge is already a popular study hub offering coffee from Holy Grounds and a comfortable meeting venue. This facelift, however, will create more of a coffee shop essence with the new warm and relaxing atmosphere.
Dirlam Lounge is a regular stop during prospective students’ tour of campus. These changes will much improve the space and increase the “wow factor” of the room. The decrease in enrollment is a common knowledge; any positive change to campus will be of benefit.
These renovations will not, in any way, inhibit the happenings at Kent Campus Center once it is up and running. The improvements only seek to accommodate more students. With a need for retention and recruitment, shouldn’t students, staff, and faculty express concern and offer improvement to campus as a whole? The Simpson Community needs a well-rounded, diverse, and unique campus atmosphere – all of which will be affected by a new and improved Dirlam Lounge.
As Ecclesiastes 3 says, “To everything there is a season.” It’s a season of changes for Simpson’s campus, and RLC is doing our part to keep advancing as well. One way that RLC is changing is through a different approach to our Alternative Spring Break trips. Historically, our Chapel Intern of Mission has prepared and planned five spring break trips that are offered to the student body. Each trip is focused on some type of service varying from Habitat for Humanity projects to learning about inner city poverty.
This year, however, new things are happening. Striving to make our organization even more student led, we’re handing over the alternative spring break trip planning to the students themselves. Any student who wishes to propose a service trip may do just that by filling out a proposal application. This application consists of trip location, types of service, as well as a few other details. A committee will review the proposals and the RLC spring break trips will be announced the following week. Proposals are due this month on October 19 (right before fall break), and the trips will be announced on October 26 at Quench.
Forming the spring break trips this way is a huge change for RLC, but something that will make a huge impact, not only in our programming but on campus as well. Allowing students to plan their own trips is making room for much more personal investment in each individual’s spring break experience. Every student participating in the trips will not only have a voice in the coordination of the service but they will also partake in fundraising for their trip. They will have more time to form a community with the other students going on the same trip which will allow time for more growth during the actual week of spring break.
Though spring break is still in the somewhat distant future, it is time to begin thinking about how we’re spending our breaks. Coming up very soon is Fall Break (Octover 20 – October 23). RLC is currently sponsoring three (yep, that’s right, three!) alternative fall break trips. On the evening of Wednesday, October 19, we’ll be sending vans of students to Kansas City for an Urban Plunge experience, Sioux City for flood relief, and Des Moines to learn about justice in the city. If you’re interested in signing up for one of the trips, contact RLC, or Jorie Landers directly ( email@example.com ).
We’re excited about these changes that are happening within RLC and hopefully you are too! So it’s time to start brainstorming: Where do you want to spend your Spring Break?? Let me know if you have any further questions about this new approach to the Alternative Spring Break trips.
Peace and Love,
RLC Intern of Justice and Mission
It plays a large role in our lives whether we want to admit it or not.
We’re all about that age now, when we feel pressured to start thinking about our futures. Aside from decisions regarding majors/minors, grad school, and life after Simpson, society consistently reminds us that our personal lives need attended to as well. Many of our classmates are getting engaged and married, which only adds to the societal pressures.
I’ve done my fair share of thinking about marriage recently, for a variety of reasons. The reason that consumes most of my time is that of marriage equality, or same-sex marriage. It’s a touchy subject, I know.
The whole issue boils down to one single question: “What is marriage?” I grew up in a small Christian community that taught marriage to be the merging of two lives into one in the presence of God. No one specified, however, that marriage was only to be shared between one man and one woman. In recent years it occurred to me that this definition of marriage isn’t the one used by the government.
This forces us to consider what marriage is to the government and what purpose it serves in society. For starters, religious marriage should be completely separate from civil marriage. If the state upheld religious views of marriage, we would see non-Christians and people of other faiths being denied marriage licenses left and right because not all Americans believe in the Christian God.
Others have pointed to reproduction and a stable child-raising environment as the purpose of marriage. Once again, this excludes many people: those who don’t want children, or those who can’t have children. When it comes to marriage providing a stable enrironment to raise children in, who’s to say that two people of the same sex are incapable of raising a child just as well as any other couple?
Let’s not forget that marriage is an institution that was created to serve the needs of society. This becomes especially important when discussing the purpose of marriage today. What needs should be met by marriage? What do you see as marriage’s purpose? These are all questions to consider in the debate over the purpose of marriage; if we ignore these issues and aren’t careful, marriage could end up being denied to a lot more people than it already is.
Intern of Welcome & Celebration
Smith Chapel – Simpson College
A new school year means a new beginning for many of us. For
incoming first years, this is the start of a new chapter in life; one soon to
be filled with memories – memories you will cherish and memories you may regret,
but nevertheless learn from. For returning students, a new year means a clean
slate. It’s a chance to start fresh; to build on existing memories and create
Simpson’s Religious Life Community (RLC) is eager to be a piece of
your new beginning. RLC offers opportunity for fellowship, service, worship,
community, justice and mission, and interfaith relations. As a team, we have
prepared for the upcoming year. Our theme kicked off last Wednesday evening at
Quench, our campus worship service open to the Simpson community every
Wednesday from 9:00-9:45PM.
This year’s theme originates from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 :
To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
This passage is applicable in our everyday lives. “To everything
there is a season…” There is a time, place, and reason for every action,
decision, and thought. Your new chapter, or clean slate, will benefit from
pondering the meaning behind this passage. This is your time to grow. This is
your time to make decisions of your own. This is your time to determine who you
want to be and where you want to go.
Start fresh. It’s your new beginning.
Join us for Quench on Wednesday nights from 9:00-9:45PM, with Afterhours directly following worship.
Keep an eye and ear out for service opportunities and Bible studies soon to come.
Christianity is rich with diversity.
It means that Christians will never agree. On the nature of God, on what constitutes Christian living, on heaven, hell or whether Jesus was human or divine. Pretty much anything anyone has ever believed about Christianity has been believed to be wrong by somebody else.
But it also means that God is big. Like really, really big. God is big enough to love us all, to claim us all. It just doesn’t seem right that God would only choose to save the literalists, or the Mormons, or the humanitarians. Somehow God has the capacity to allow for all of us and our wildly restrictive beliefs about who God is.
In his new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Rob Bell presents a controversial argument about the loving nature of God. Essentially Bell argues that a loving God does not condemn people to an eternal hell based on what they believed, how they acted, who their friends were, or which prayer they recited. God does, however, love us all enough to grant us free will. Our decision to use that free will against God’s will, is the same as living in hell. And in heaven – wherever and whenever that is – those people who have denied God will be really uncomfortable because everyone else will have clean hearts. To use Bell’s example: can you imagine being a racist at a table in heaven full of the people you’ve always hated? And they love you.
Bell allows that God will, even after death, allow those who have denied God on earth to change their minds. God is big enough to cleanse our hearts even after we’ve died. And God is loving enough to give us the chance to do so.
Love Wins isn’t your everyday sermon, that’s for sure. But as Bell points out in his preface, he’s not the first person to believe this. And remember, his beliefs are a part of our diversity.
So why did so many people jump at the chance to critique this new book? John Piper, a well-known Baptist leader, even tweeted, “Farewell Rob Bell” before the book was even released. Where’s the Christian love in that?
I’m sure Bell is exhausted by now. Since the book’s release he’s been under constant fire. He’s been critiqued, accused, ridiculed and interrogated. MSNBC’s Martin Bashir wouldn’t even let Bell get in a full sentence as he labeled him a universalist. Now, let’s be honest. At first glance Bell’s argument does seem a bit like universalism, but did Bashir actually read the book? Bell makes some very clear distinctions between his argument and universalism. And his book is full of important questions and provoking points. He can’t condense the material into a short interview. He wrote 200 pages for a reason.
We may not agree with every word in Bell’s new book. But it’s certainly worth a read. You might even find some of his conclusions fascinating. At very least, please (please!) don’t critique it until you’ve read it. After all, it’s a part of the Christian story. And shouldn’t we all respect the others in our story? Don’t we believe in the kind of God who wants us to embrace and appreciate diversity instead of restrain and condemn it?
At very least, let’s agree that we don’t want a God who would allow love to lose.
Hello RLC! My name is Annaleah and I went on the spring break trip to Mississippi to work with the George County Habitat for Humanity affiliate. I chose this trip for multiple reasons: I love working on Habitat houses, I like spring in the south, and it just seemed like the best thing to do with my spring break. Our group of 11 had a blast!
We got up early on Saturday morning to drive south to the Memphis area, where we stayed at Getwell Road United Methodist Church. While we were in Memphis, we visited Graceland and signed the wall around the grounds. We also ate at Ted Neely’s Interstate BBQ, which was our first taste of the southern staple. At Getwell we slept in their youth group room and their movie room, and then got up on Sunday morning for their 8:30 service. It was a somewhat contemporary service but quiet and relaxing. The men’s group served us breakfast and told us more about Getwell’s emphasis on service to the community. According to them, the church goes out on every fifth Saturday and serves for about 4 hours in the community and they also have several mission trips to Africa. They said that the focus on service helped make them one of the fastest-growing churches in the state.
After the service, we drove even more, stopping in Jackson, MS to eat lunch and visit the state capitol building. The New Capitol was closed, but the Old Capitol Museum was open, and so we got to learn a little more about Mississippi’s history and culture through the history of the Capitol building. There were interactive exhibits and it was free, so I recommend if you are ever passing through Jackson to stop and see it.
After checking out the Old Capitol, we continued on to Lucedale, MS, which is in George County. We were to stay at Grace United Methodist Church, but we got lost finding it. We turned around and found it eventually, and they had supper ready for us. We met the other group that we were to spend the week with, who were from New Hampshire, and after supper, some of us visited with the youth group from GUMC about evolution and various other controversial topics. It was a fascinating discussion and I think it helped bond us with the others on the trip.
Monday morning we got up from our mattresses on the floor. We were out the door at 7:30 to find our first Habitat site. The house framing was done, but we had to do the insulation and finish putting plywood on the roof. I spent much of the day up on the roof, which I really enjoyed. There were pleasant cool breezes and getting to pound nails is a great stress-reliever. For lunch, one of the Habitat group took us out to Pizza Hut. This generosity was repeated throughout the week; we did not have to pay for any of our meals while we were on the site or having supper at GUMC. It was humbling to be served in such a tangible way. That night we had homemade food from the hostesses at GUMC, and after supper the groups played Mafia together.
Tuesday we were back at the first site, and much of the day was spent finishing the insulation and putting drywall up. Outside, people were working on the siding and soffit work. The rooms in the house began to look more defined, and we finished about half the house’s drywall by the end of the day. We felt like we got a lot done because the house was changing so quickly. That evening some of us kicked back and watched The Social Network while others had good conversations and enjoyed the outdoors.
Wednesday was the pivotal day for us. We started working on the second site, which we worked on for the rest of the week with the future homeowners. At 8 a.m., all that was there were the cement slab and the walls in piles around it. By lunchtime, we had raised all of the walls except for one, and then in the afternoon we finished the walls and began putting on the roof trusses. By the time we were finished for the day, about five trusses were up and secured. It was an amazing feeling to look at the bones of the house and be able to say, “We built this; when we got here this morning, there was just a cement slab, and now there’s this.”
On Wednesday and Thursday, workers from the local Lowe’s came to help us with the house. Lowe’s had donated $30,000 for the house and the local newspapers and radio stations covered the wall-raising. There were about 35 people on the site and we were all working hard in the heat to get the house going. To see the house framing complete by the end of the day Thursday was a testament to the power of teamwork and sharing the load. No one person could have done it, but with the large group we were able to get it done.
Wednesday night I took part in a conversation about happiness and success. The discussion revolved around a quote from “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Viktor Frankl which essentially said that happiness and success cannot be pursued but rather must ensue. Some people spoke of their belief that happiness requires an active component, while others said that happiness can be a passive thing. It was an interesting conversation.
Thursday night we got done with working early. The New Hampshire group headed off to visit New Orleans and see the St. Patrick’s Day parades, while we Iowans went to Dauphin Island, AL, to the beach. We got to the beach as the sun was setting and the moon was rising, and it was beautiful. The air was warm and the water was cool, and along the shore there were multitudes of shells to collect. The sea breezes swirled around us, fresh salt air invigorating the senses. The only thing that marred the beauty was the harsh orange light coming from the oil rigs out in the water.
We left the beach to find a place to eat supper and ended up eating at Street’s Island Grill. All 11 of us crowded around a round table, elbow to elbow, enjoying the seafood. I ordered a crab cake burger, and it was delicious. I couldn’t finish the fries that came with and so I shared them with everyone else. Dining together in such close quarters was comfortable and made us feel like a family. After eating, we drove back to GUMC under the bright moonlight and went to bed.
Friday was our last day in Mississippi and we were all feeling sorry that we had to leave. The relationships we had formed with the others we worked with were valuable. One of the contractors on the site, Wendell, told us his life story. When he was a teenager, he became hooked on drugs and also dealt drugs. He overdosed once or twice and saw three people shot. He was living the high life in terms of making money, but as a man, he was about as low as someone could go. Then, he met a woman who helped him get to know God and introduced him to his wife. Wendell’s life was changed, and now he is a pastor and spends his life serving others. The power of God and the power of love shone through Wendell all week, and it was a real honor to get to work with him.
At lunch, the family whose home we were working on thanked us for pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into their home. They were so grateful, and I felt blessed that I could give them my time and energy. It was an emotional lunch, because there were so many people saying thank-yous, and the Habitat group even gave us medals inscribed with “Our Hero 2011 GCHFH”. (GCHFH is George County Habitat for Humanity.) I had tears in my eyes, and I know that other people did too.
After lunch we worked on the house for the final time, and completed putting plywood on half the roof. Wendell invited us over to his youth pastor’s house to shoot guns. He had high-powered rifles, handguns, and shotguns. We shot skeet, too. At last we had to leave for supper at GUMC, and we said goodbye to the people we’d been working with all week. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged and tears flowed. They told us to come back soon and that we were always welcome.
Supper was a catfish fry, and after supper we Iowans packed up to leave. We said our goodbyes to the New Hampshire group, and set off to drive straight through back to Simpson. In the van, we discussed our experiences and talked about coming back next year. Driving back was not particularly memorable, but it was good to come back and have a day to relax before classes began again. I miss Mississippi already, but I know we will be able to go back someday.
If you have never been on a break trip through RLC or have never worked with Habitat, I urge you to try it. As one of the people on the trip said, “Habitat–grab a hammer, change a life–but whose?” Come into it with an open mind and you’ll find out that this world can be changed with your helping hands.