Mormon students use church to find themselves
Many students often find themselves having trouble creating a community on a campus as large as CU. One group of students has found a way of using religion to foster a sense of fellowship and community and to balance school with their daily lives.
The student ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at CU is a mixture of students and community members who come together to grow in their spiritual lives. Meetings and institute classes are held each week along with a Sunday service.
Graduate student Jenny Gibson is finishing up her master’s degree in civil engineering. She has been a member of the LDS church her whole life and attended another student ward at the Air Force Academy while working on her bachelor’s degree.
“I think this ward has helped me get through school,” Gibson said. “My spiritual life is now very balanced, which helps me get through school. It gives me a source of strength.”
Gibson found CU’s student ward through the LDS national Web site.
“I think the focus of serving each other is so strong here,” Gibson said. “I truly feel like I have a family here.”
Cameron Diehl, a first-year law student, said the church has helped him academically because he feels as if he is a part of something bigger.
“Every day I try to live the lesson I have learned in the church,” Diehl said. “I am learning to find my place in this world.”
Diehl was born and raised in Utah where attended a family ward. Typically, family wards are much larger than single wards like the one here at CU.
“This church is much smaller,” Diehl said. “On a Sunday back home there could be 300 people where here there are only 80.”
Diehl said the mission he went on to spread the word of Jesus was an eye-opening experience.
“The bishop had to declare me ‘worthy’ in order for me to go on my mission trip,” Diehl said. “It is a two year mission to spread the word of Jesus Christ. I went to Tequila, Mexico and it truly changed the way I see the world.”
Mormon men and women are eligible for mission trips between the ages of 18 and 19. Those who are eligible and have received permission from the bishop go through two months of missionary training.
“I met some of the most phenomenal people while living in Mexico,” Diehl said. “My companion was a native Mexican who assisted me on my mission.”
Austin O’Connor, a senior advertising major, converted to LDS last semester when he met a young Mormon girl on an Alaskan cruise.
“When I came to terms with the church I found myself,” O’Connor said. “The college atmosphere is so tumultuous and this community is very close, they helped me find myself.”
O’Connor said he views things differently now that he is a part of the LDS church, and that he is able to see all of his blessings in his life.
“Since my parents are not Mormon, they were originally hesitant when I converted because they didn’t know anything about it,” O’Connor said. “Now they are more open about it and have agreed to come to Sunday service with me. I now have a better relationship with them.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Katelyn Bell at Katelyn.firstname.lastname@example.org.