By BEN FRENTZEL
Sunday mornings are typically reserved by college students to sleep off the previous night’s festivities. But 90 local college students were out and about last weekend for something different.
Grace Bible Church, located at 601 Blue Ridge Road, hosted the first college luncheon of the year on Sunday, Sept. 12. This meal was free but the event will continue weekly throughout the semester and cost $2 per person.
“This is a time to have food, fellowship, teaching and discussion,” said Worship Pastor Rob Pilant.
Pilant said that in addition to having food every week there will be a conversation about varying topics.
Pilant and Pastor Michael Burt were pleasantly surprised at the number of hungry students who came to the meal, saying it greatly surpassed previous years’ attendance.
“We used to have an entire college service here,” Burt said. Nearly 130 students came to the first service and that number grew to almost 200 some Sundays, he said.
Though Burt said it was initially difficult to integrate the students with the rest of the church, Grace Bible Church has improved its inclusion of young people since then with the creation of a Facebook page and a group website dedicated specifically to college students. Pastor Burt blogs twice a week and even has a Twitter account to give updates on what books, magazines or articles he’s reading.
A church for life
Joshua Prather and Drew Noble grew up together in Columbia, playing basketball together and practicing archery as kids. Prather eyes the cookies Noble has just picked up.
“Bring me back like five or six,” he told recent Mizzou graduate Krista Booruji.
Prather is a sophomore at Mizzou studying atmospheric science. Even with his pre-med plans in the near future, he still attends the church of his youth with long-time buddy Noble.
“This is the building we moved to a couple years ago,” Prather said. He has attended Grace for over 18 years.
“There is a Sunday school class for us, but a lot of students attend their own ministries and bible studies on campus,” Prather said.
Noble nodded his head in agreement as Prather praised the church’s wide range of ages, emphasizing the importance for a church to have older as well as younger members.
Groups on campus facilitate fellowship
A large number of students at the luncheon belong to MU’s Christian Campus House. With two houses for men and one for women, the organization has a relatively large group that attends Grace every Sunday.
During the school year, members are encouraged to attend the weekly gathering dubbed “The Well” and participate in one of the many student-led bible studies and community ministries.
“Life, it’s so stressful,” lamented sophomore Mizzou student and CCH member Rachel Babcock.
But Grace is instrumental in relieving that pressure with its simple way to get involved and stay connected to other Christian students.
The luncheons will continue weekly throughout the semester at Grace Bible Church starting promptly at 12:45 p.m. and will run until 2 p.m.