No matter where they are on their spiritual journey, God is at work in the lives of students at CUWAA.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the fall 2022 edition of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor special magazine edition.
As the child of two Concordia University Ann Arbor alumni, it was no surprise when Claudia Grepke (’25) decided that she wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps and attend CUAA herself. Along with her desire to play volleyball at a collegiate level, Claudia felt called to attend a Lutheran school, as she desired to grow in her relationship with the Lord throughout her college years.
Her transition to Concordia came with a cross-country move from Las Vegas, Nevada, where she attended First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and graduated from Faith Lutheran High School. Not all students who choose Concordia have Lutheran backgrounds or any kind of faith life for that matter. Despite where a student is on their spiritual journey, Concordia puts the people and programs in place to encourage faith growth.
For Claudia, her faith growth started immediately her freshman year. Although she had some extended family in the Midwest, she heavily relied on the Concordia community for support when she began her collegiate tenure. In particular, her resident assistant, Payton Lovins, had a big impact on Claudia.
“Payton was always quick to offer encouragement and love to me,” says Claudia, adding that Payton also had a tremendous impact on her walk with the Lord.
While professors and staff play an important role in faith development, many students will attest that their peers are equally, if not more, in influential. In a 2019 survey, 12% of CUAA students said “friends” have the biggest influence on their spiritual growth compared to 5% who responded with “professors.” In response, CUAA’s Campus Pastor Rev. Randy Duncan implemented a new peer-to-peer spiritual support program.
Four Campus Ministry Resident Assistants have been hired for the 2022–23 academic year and serve in the capacity of spiritual caregivers for fellow students. The Campus Ministry RAs will also lead and coordinate community groups, service opportunities, mission activities, and worship experiences under Duncan’s supervision and in cooperation with the Office of Residence Life.
“We know that peers play a really important role, and with 90% of our student body being believers in Christ, there are plenty of Christian supports for students to turn to,” says Duncan. “But we want to be extra intentional about having students who are proactive with those conversations as well.”
That’s what Payton did for Claudia. Throughout Claudia’s freshman year, Lovins stuck by her and continually pointed her to God throughout her lowest moments, including a time of personal trial that came during her second semester of freshman year.
Others can, and do, play a formative role in CUAA students’ faith lives. People who poured into Claudia also include teammates and coaches of the volleyball team. Her coaches consistently begin practices with a devotion and a prayer, and encourage players to attend worship services on campus. Knowing that she couldn’t get this kind of intentional faith-centered experience anywhere else, Claudia has been able to grow alongside her sisters in Christ on the team.
“Being an athlete in the nursing program with two on-campus jobs and other extracurriculars is very demanding,” says Claudia. “I do my best to spend time in the Word and get to Chapel multiple times a week. Thankfully, I am surrounded by people who aim to do the same.”
Not only does Claudia experience the gift of faith on her team and through the other students on campus, she has also been impacted by professors who have been open about their faith. Being able to take theology classes and be taught by Christian educators is something that Claudia has noticed makes CUAA stand out from other college campuses.
From her experiences in the classroom, the gym, and residence hall, Claudia has been able to see the Lord at work in her life and has been able to grow closer in her relationship with Him. Although she had established faith before attending CUAA, her faith has only grown since stepping on campus and into a community that genuinely cares for her and puts Christ first in everything.
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—The fall 2022 Hearts Together magazine hit mailboxes in early October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.
— This story is written by Allie Milot, social media manager for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at email@example.com or 734-995-7403.
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