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Religious and faith-based organizations provide resources for students

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Photo courtesy of Liz Riegel and the Newman Catholic Student Center.

Heel Life lists more than 40 "faith and religion" organizations that offer support for students. Although this is not a comprehensive overview of all organizations, it serves as an introduction to some of the available resources.

Presbyterian Campus Ministry


Presbyterian Campus Ministry, located at 110 Henderson St., strives to be a welcoming community that invites students to belong, believe and become, according to their website. The ministry offers Thursday night programs at 6 p.m. that include a student-cooked meal.

“PCM is a progressive campus ministry that is wide-open wrestling with questions and doubt as it relates to faith, and we’re an LGBTQ+ welcoming ministry,” PCM Minister Reverend Berry French said in an email.

Cameron Mewborn
, a UNC senior who is the moderator for PCM, said that the ministry is a “safe and affirming” place that is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds.

“Church hurt is a big thing that people experience, and we want to sort of provide a safe space to deconstruct and reconstruct what faith looks like in college,” Mewborn said.

Mewborn said the ministry also works with other faith organizations on campus to provide resources for students.


Baha’i Student Association



First-year
Issa Masumbuko founded the Baha’i Student Association with friends this semester to provide a place for community members to have an “enlightening conversation” at UNC.

Baha’i spaces are typically community oriented. Masumbuko said he wanted to bring that atmosphere to campus after a past club for Baha’is died down.

“How can we use spirituality or religion as a means to achieve social changes?” Masumbuko said.

This is one of the core questions the group plans to focus on this year.

North Carolina Study Center

The North Carolina Study Center located at 203 Battle Lane embraces the pillars of hospitality, education, vocation and discipleship, Haley Gray, UNC junior and lead intern at the center, said.

“This place made Chapel Hill feel like home,” Gray said.

The center is not affiliated with a denomination, and its mission is meant to “cultivate Christian life and thought at UNC,” according to the center’s mission statement.

Students can participate in regularly scheduled Bible studies and seminars, as well as the Fellows Program, which holds sessions about scripture, theology and Christian thought over three years.

Muslim Students Association


The Muslim Students Association is a “religious, social, and outreach student organization” that is meant to connect Muslim students at UNC and in Chapel Hill, according to their website. The association holds weekly events including prayer sessions, educational services and social opportunities.

“One role is that we are an advocacy group for Muslim students on campus,” Manaal Iqbal, president of MSA, said.

MSA reserves a room in the Student Union open to students for prayer every day. Iqbal said the group is open to everyone interested in learning about Islam or who wants to participate in their gatherings.

The association also provides other resources for students, including a roommate search form.

“It’s also just a space for Muslim students who want to live with other Muslim students to connect with each other so that they can have the most comfortable experience at Carolina,” Iqbal said.

UNC Hillel


UNC Hillel
is meant to be a “student-driven and staff-supported” space for Jewish and non-Jewish students, Hannah Spinrad, executive director of North Carolina Hillel, said.

Hillel hosts weekly Shabbat celebrations on Friday nights and bagel brunches on Tuesday mornings. The Hillel building is located at 210 W. Cameron Ave.

“We are a pluralistic and egalitarian Jewish community,” Spinrad said. “Our goal as an organization isn’t to convince someone what or how to be Jewish, but figure out what way, if anything, they want Judaism to be incorporated into their lives.”

According to their website, Hillel focuses on growing a commitment to their five key values — community, hospitality, learning, spirituality and justice. 

Hindu YUVA


Hindu YUVA
— which stands for Youth for Unity, Virtues and Actions — aims to be a space for religious appreciation and to unite students who want to celebrate Hindu culture.

“More than anything, I would say that the reason that I’ve stayed is because we are a family,” Atharva Vispute, a UNC junior and the co-president of Hindu YUVA, said.

The group holds meetings every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Student Union. A main event that Hindu YUVA organizes is the annual Diwali celebration which has about 600 attendees.

Vispute said that the group is open to anyone and is hoping to have more interfaith conversations.

Newman Catholic Student Center Parish


The Newman Catholic Student Center Parish is a group dedicated to community, welcoming people regardless of where people are on their spiritual journey.

“We want to be people’s home away from home,” Liz Riegel, the associate director of campus ministry at the center, said.

Carolina Catholic Night, which is held every Wednesday at 6:15 p.m., includes a free home-cooked meal by students.

Joshua Martinez
, a UNC sophomore and member of the hospitality and outreach team at the center, said he immediately went to the Newman Student Center after receiving the all-clear after the campus lockdown on Aug. 28.

“I knew that people were going to be there for me in the time when I needed it the most,” Martinez said.

For more information and a comprehensive list of religious organizations at UNC, visit heellife.unc.edu.

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