During their first year of college, many students go on a quest to find their personal values and beliefs.
For each student, the path of this quest looks different. For some the challenge lies in knowing where to begin.
In an effort to ease this aspect of the first-year transition experience, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) has 25 different religious and spiritual organizations that offer students an opportunity to connect with a community of faith or spirituality.
Rev. Angela Kaufman, minister of the university, said that TCU students come from more than 60 different faiths and religions.
“The core of our mission is to support and nurture student’s religious and spiritual lives,” she said.
Kaufman said RSL provides pastoral and spiritual care for the entire campus and to anyone who wants to talk to a chaplain about questions of meaning, value of faith and spirit.
Rev. Todd Boling, associate chaplain, said that through the religious and spiritual organizations, students are challenged to find a community they consider a safe space.
He said that community helps them develop the identity and religious focus they want in their lives.
“The great thing about coming to college is that we all meet people from different parts of the world and you’re exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking and then the journey takes a different route,” Boling said.
On the first Sunday of the year the office hosts Frogs First Chapel, which is a chapel service specifically designed for the students who are new to the community and want to connect with a Christian community, Boling said.
“We work with students from across campus,” Kaufman said. “We are not limited to working with our own tradition.”
Kaufman said their department has a student organization called Better Together, which is an interfaith community and dialogue initiative.
Paige Wells, senior English major and a leader of Better Together, said she was interested in starting the organization after taking a class that led her to question her religious and spiritual beliefs.
“I had seen on OrgSyc that there was an interfaith organization and I was very curious about interfaith matters because I was questioning my faith,” Wells said.
As a result, she met Boling and learned that the interfaith organization was no longer active since all its members had graduated.
With the desire to be part of an interfaith community, Wells started Better Together in fall 2012 to get involved with people who had different views on religion and spirituality.
“Our mission is to foster interfaith dialogue and relationships between students,” Wells said.
Boling said that Better Together focuses on three areas: building community, interfaith engagement and service.
“We can come together, we can accomplish more together than we ever can on our own,” Boling said.
“If we can find a way to celebrate the things that we have in common and celebrate the things that make us different, we are all better for it,” he said.
Kaufman said college chaplains are here to support every student at every space and place on campus at every point in their college career.
“Because of the work we do, we are their advocates; we are their support system, their listening ear,” she said.