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27 August 2018

Welcoming students

Tom Wederell 2019 Tom Wederell Head of Student Ministry
Students 5

The new student term is fast approaching, and before long we’ll be welcoming students back to Southampton.

I’ve been speaking to Simeon and Beth, who’ll be working with the student ministry at Above Bar Church from September.

Simeon Carter: recent graduate and Transform worker (from September)

Simeon CarterI grew up in a Christian family but I would definitely say I came to follow Christ whilst at university. But that’s not what I expected to happen. As someone who has same-sex attraction, coming to university was an opportunity to explore that. I didn’t necessarily want to lose all my Christian background, but faith certainly wasn’t my priority.

And then I found myself coming along to Above Bar Church’s Sunday services (as it was nearby my halls and was offering free lunch!) and, not long after, going along to the midweek group, Hungry. That first year marked a big realisation for me that the Bible had a real historical basis which I could investigate – and I couldn’t just cherry pick the bits I wanted. Gradually, through that first year, the faith I was so familiar with through my childhood became my own.

The church family have played such an important part in this. The love and welcome I received from the student team in particular helped me so much. I won’t forget Callom inviting me round for coffee in my first few weeks. Or the student weekend away. And from my second year I have been blessed to get to know Tim Henstock, who has been meeting with me one-to-one. The time he has invested in me (meeting each week) has played a huge part in shaping my faith, encouraging me, and pointing me back to Christ.

I am so very grateful for the church family and the student team here at Above Bar Church. University would have been very different without them!

Beth Devonish: STEP Trainee (assisting the student ministry)

Bethany DevonishGod did a new thing in my life when I came to university. I didn’t know Him before that eventful autumn of 2013, and I never expected to do so either. It wasn’t until Southampton University Christian Union (SUCU) quite literally stepped into my life that I began the process of getting to know the God who already knew me better than I knew myself.

I asked a lot of questions and was graciously supplied with many answers. Looking around me at the people I’d met and at the world itself, I decided I wanted to become a Christian – and so I did. A while later, I came to Above Bar Church for the first time and was instantly welcomed by amazing humans from the student leadership team, who would go on to become amazing friends. Ruth, the head of student ministry at the time, became my one-to-one partner, and we met weekly so she could help me grasp the first steps of what we believe as Christians and how to live that out. It was a little while later when I was linked up with a hospitality family, who were equally welcoming and friendly. And so were the students themselves!

The student communities in Above Bar Church and SUCU have done so much for me over the years. From those early days of discovery, through turbulent times, and into the next steps that I am excited to take. I can’t wait to bless the students of Southampton as they have blessed me.

Could you get involved?

The three or so years we get with students are pivotal for their faith. We can see that has been the case in a wonderful way for both Beth and Simeon.

If you think you could play your part in any of the following ways I’d love you to get in touch.

  • Hospitality: one of the easiest ways to support our students is simply by welcoming them into your home. If you’re single, married, have kids living at home, are retired, even house-sharing with friends, you could make a student feel more at home in Southampton. This could be a one-off act of hospitality or a regular invitation whilst they’re studying.
  • One-to-ones: the fact that having a one-to-one was a significant part of the story for Beth and Simeon is no surprise. Every year the students we see grow in their confidence and love for Jesus the most are those who have somebody willing to meet with them regularly. That might sound intimidating, but it’s such an encouragement seeing someone gradually changed by Jesus just by meeting for a coffee, listening to them, opening the Bible with them and praying for them. If this sounds exciting, then please get in touch. If it sounds exciting and daunting, then get in touch too – we’re planning a how-to session ahead of the new term.
  • Prayer: if you’d like to get the latest update once a term then drop me a brief email using the address below. We’d be really excited to have you partnering with us in prayer!

Contact the student team by emailing students@abovebarchurch.org.uk

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