Reading the Bible and praying is what a smiling Taylor Greenway said keeps her close to God and strong in her faith.
Greenway says being a Christian and a nursing student on Castleton’s campus isn’t always easy. She said it’s all about balancing everything and making sure she’s spending enough time with God, because being a Christian is all about your relationship with God.
“When I was younger, my family didn’t really go to church, and when I got to Castleton I started going to church and joined the Intervarsity Club, and it all helped me build my faith and helped with getting through hard times with family issues,” she said.
Senior Elise Mellor, vice president of the Intervarsity Club at Castleton, says she thought about transferring her freshman year to a Christian college, but had a friend convince her that she was at Castleton for a reason. Mellor says it has made her stronger being on a non-Christian campus, having to resist temptation and staying true to God.
Mellor said she was recently in charge of the Day of Prayer, which took place April 2. She said the group formerly met in a room in the library and took shifts praying, but because of conflicts this year they changed it and had different people sign up for a slot throughout the day to pray. The turnout was about average this year, but she said that might be because it was a little short-noticed.
Shelly Audette, a junior and president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club on campus, walks to the St. John The Baptist Parish on Main Street every Saturday night or Sunday morning. She says sometimes people see her walking there, but no one says anything. Audette says before ski races, she makes the sign of the cross, and she noticed that other teammates do it, which surprised her.
Audette helped start the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club with her cross-country coach Melissa Crossman.
Crossman is the state representative for the club. She got involved while she was a college athlete, after getting inspired by listening to alumni Dan Britton speak at the University of Delaware. Britton is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ executive vice president of International Ministry and Training at the National Support Center in Kansas City.
“The only negative thing that I have heard, and this was in the past on campus about Christians, was that the Intervarsity Club’ was not the cool club to belong to,'” Crossman said.
Crossman also says she thinks it’s tough to be a Christian in Vermont, especially to be a young Christian in the Castleton area. For one, she said there aren’t a lot of churches around in the area. She thinks that the population of Christians on the campus is growing and the clubs are small, but starting to flourish.
Cassie Pinaire, a junior from Arizona, is also part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and said the variety of churches is huge there. Coming here, she felt like it was very Catholic based. Pinaire joined the Intervarsity Club when she first came to Castleton, and now has joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as well.
“It’s really nice being an athlete here and being able to relate the Bible and famous athletes, with fellow athletes on campus,” she said.
In the book Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark, their research shows that about 40 to 50 percent of freshman who go off to college lose their faith time they graduate four years later. And these were kids who went to church every weekend and attended youth groups and mission trips.
Lyandon Warren, pastor of the Foundations Church in Poultney, says attending Christian colleges makes it easier to retain faith.
“Temptation exists at Christian colleges just as well as non-Christian colleges, but you have more structure and more similar friends that are believers at a Christian college so it makes it easier,” he said.
It’s parents’ job to help guide their children into taking the right steps to continue their faith once they grow up, Warren said. Once teens enter into college, it’s an opportunity for them to embrace their walk of faith on their own, but some fall to temptation without the structural support of having their family around, Warren said.