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24 September 2017

Welcome students!

Tom Wederell Tom Wederell Head of Student Ministry
Student - Weekend Away 2017

If you’re a student beginning your studies in Southampton, you’ll make a number of important decisions. Who am I going to spend my time with? Which supermarket will I choose for my grocery shop? Where will I work best? In the library or in my room?

One question which will shape these next few years is, which church of the many faithful churches in Southampton will I make my home?

For some of you to choose Above Bar Church will mean making your way up the hill to the high street, for others it will mean getting on the U1C or climbing on your bike to get into town. So why make the trek into the city centre? Why do our students choose to do it?

My name is Tom, I’m on the staff team and I help lead the student ministry. I graduated a couple of years ago and these are the reasons why I travelled from the other side of the city during freshers and made Above Bar Church my church.

I found a family

Within minutes of being in the door and finding my seat — feeling a little daunted by the auditorium, which was far from what I was used to — I got chatting with some guys who were part of the church.

They made me feel welcome, and were to be the first of this diverse family that I’d get to know and love over the next few years.

I was given some great advice by the wife of one of the ministers who said, “You can’t expect to know everyone in a big church, but invest yourself in a smaller community.” The student community was to be that place. I was able to share the ups and downs of uni life, learn, laugh and worship. An invaluable family during the eventful terms ahead.

I was shown the value of the Bible

That first service kicked off. Throughout the songs, the prayers and during the sermon, the Bible was at the heart of it all.

In different services and meetings I experienced whole books being opened up and difficult passages dealt with. It was here I grew hungry to see the big story of scripture and Jesus — who it all points towards. More than that, I was given the tools to confidently explore the Bible and meet Jesus for myself.

I learned how to rely on God

For me, it was a new church with new songs. It took a few visits to get familiar with the words, but we were singing about the same Father, Son and Holy Spirit I loved and the church sang with passion.

The leaders of the student ministry modelled love and dependency on God. I wanted that too. They gave me the freedom to try, fail and grow as I learned to lean on Jesus and serve others.

I was helped to share him with others

Following the service we went up to the top hall for a student welcome lunch. There I met other members of the church who, over the next three (plus) years, were going to shape me more than any lecturer or tutor.

It’s hard to live out your faith and share it with others at uni. So it’s important to have people around you who will keep encouraging you to do so. I saw the church reach out to the hungry on the streets, the internationals with little English, those struggling with debt and anyone else who needed to experience and hear about the love of Jesus. Their efforts kept the importance and power of the Gospel fresh in my mind.

None of these things happened by accident. Every conversation, warm meal and Bible study happened because the church loves Jesus and puts in a lot of work behind the scenes.

Students - Kingdom Living

Today, we want to do the same. Here are some of things we do for you to grow in your love and faith in Jesus.

  • Hungry: our student community meets every Wednesday for a meal, a talk and Bible study at a home belonging to a couple from the church.
  • Sunday night pizza: after the evening service we’ll head to the basement for pizza, chill out and the occasional Q&A with the evening’s speaker.
  • Weekends In + Away: in the first and second term we use a weekend to get to know each other better, enjoy some teaching and just generally have a good time.
  • 121s: lots of our students will tell you how much they value meeting one-to-one with an older Christian from the church to chat and open the Bible together.
  • Hospitality families: we connect students with church family members to enjoy a bit of food and hospitality throughout the year.

And lastly...

Students - Welcome Lunches

Make the journey to the Above Bar Church building and see if this is where Jesus will meet and grow you these next three (or more) years.

Come find out more and let us get to know you over some lunch!

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