Christian ministry helps AU students walk by faith

Gracie Wilson and Sean Repuyan

When students visit Ashland University for the first time, they see representation of its brethren heritage and christian values. The chapel that hosts countless ministries, local churches near to campus and even the symbol of the cross embedded in the Ashland University logo. 

While the university was founded on brethren tradition, not all students share in that same religion or denomination. As a result, students have come together over the years and founded different Chrsitian ministry organizations so that every student of faith feels like they can have a place on campus. 

From long-standing campus traditions such as The Well, to newer groups such as Delight Ministries, students at AU have united to help one another walk by faith in the busy times of college. 


The Well 

Much like its namesake, The Well is strong, fortified and embedded deep within the campus at AU. Taking its name from the “woman at the well” who met Jesus in John 4, The Well follows the belief that Christianity is open to anyone. 

Well Leaders Lauren Sutton and Ross Wenzinger describe The Well as an organization on campus that provides a community of like-minded believers with a safe space to connect with God and the ability to build and forge relationships with others. 

“It’s meant to be a safe place for everyone to make connections,” Sutton said. “Anyone is welcome at the Well, regardless of if you’re a believer or not.” 

“And that’s the moral behind the ‘woman at the well’,” Wenzinger continued beside Sutton. “That it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past when you decide to turn to Christ.”

With this open belief this semester, The Well plans on reaching out to more people and connecting with other on-campus organizations. In order to build an even stronger community and presence on campus, a hopeful goal is campus involvement. 

The Well meets on Thursdays at 8pm in the upper Chapel on campus. The Well also hosts small group Bible study in order to further build relationships and meet more than just on Thursday nights.

After worship service on Thursdays, The Well will have what leaders call ‘Post-Well’, a hangout with music, games and snacks. The Well has been where Sutton has met the majority of her friends, and where she hopes to make more. 

“It is truly an awesome community to be a part of,” Sutton said. 

Wenzinger’s hope is that more students on campus seek out The Well as their own community to connect with. 

“I think what gets people so hesitant about Christian ministries is that they think you have to be a believer,” Wenzinger concluded. “But it’s not just, ‘we’re here to tell you about Jesus.’ It’s about talking about life’s daily struggles, bringing people together and connecting on a deeper, spiritual level.”


Delight Ministries 

The newest of the campus ministry programs at AU, Delight is geared toward women who are seeking unity in Christ on their college journey. The program has been on campus since 2019 and was founded by women for women.

In her freshman year at AU, Lauren Stotzer discovered Delight and has been attending ever since. Now, she is a Junior and the Book Coordinator for the group. Since she joined, she has found that it has helped her grow in faith while she makes her way through college, especially as a leader.

“I went to conference this year and [it] lit a fire in my heart, to make it more known on campus,” Stotzer said.

Every year, the program stays the same in its mission to grow college women in their relationship with Christ, but it changes its core theme. This year is called “known.”

“It’s about knowing Jesus and knowing who you are in Jesus and making Jesus known,” she said. “So it’ll have different scriptures throughout the Bible each week and then it’ll connect it to a college women’s story so that we can connect to it.”

For Stotzer, the mission of Delight, which is “to invite women into a Christ centered community that fosters vulnerability and transforms stories” has meant a lot and helped her walk by faith with other sisters in Christ.

“It means a lot, because it’s hard on a college campus to find people who share your faith,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to be with a group of girls who you can connect with and share how you feel.”


The Melting Pot

The main staple of the Melting Pot is that it is founded on diversity, with the belief that true worship should have no divide. 

“It is not your typical campus ministry,” Darell Cannon, current president of the Melting Pot, said. “Because it is also a diversity organization, building a community for all students, not just those of color. We are a melting pot of people.”

In high school, Cannon would attend the Melting Pot every Monday, and now as a student at AU double-majoring in Business Administration and Religion, he has found a place for truly everyone to come together. Cannon has been serving and leading ministries since 2011. 

“Ministry is my passion,” Cannon continued. “I love people, I love Jesus, I love God. Most importantly, I love spreading the gospel and having fun because this is truly about community.”

In a normal semester, the Melting Pot would meet for large worship in Redwood Hall with anywhere from 50 to 230 people attending. Cannon anticipates next semester to look the same as it has in previous years. 

Cannon pushes for students to simply get involved with campus ministries, regardless of if you are a believer or not. 

“We are all one family with a common agenda,” Cannon concluded. “You don’t have to be a part of just one, be a part of all.” 

There will be an interest meeting for the Melting Pot on Sept. 13, which will introduce the ministry to the student body. Dates for bible studies can be found on Engage Ashland. 


Newman Catholic Ministries 

For nearly 50 years, Catholic Campus Ministries has been helping AU students find a community of faith during their time in school. Focusing on faith, fellowship and service, the group is founded on the beliefs of Saint Newman. 

“We call it the Newman Community based on Saint John Henry Newman and he was canonized about two years ago,” Hannah Smiegel, one of the student campus ministers to the group said. “He worked really closely trying to bridge university and the church.”

The group aims to expand upon St. John Newman’s quest for fellowship and service by creating opportunities for students to get involved with such as volunteering at the soup kitchen.

In order to fellowship with one another outside of the classroom, Catholic Campus Ministries hosts Newman Nights every Monday in Lower Chapel where students have the chance to get to know each other while building their own community on campus.

“I grew up Catholic and…coming here, it was just this community of people that I could rely on and be accountable with,” Smiegel said. “It definitely kept me going to church voluntarily every single week which is something college students struggle with.”

Along with Newman Nights, the ministry also hosts worship nights, a prayer walk at Freer Field and second Wednesday dinners where students can dine together in fellowship. Then, on Sunday nights at 9:30, a mass is hosted in the lower chapel.

Fellowship opportunities such as these have created a place for students to feel at home with their faith on campus. 

“I think God was just calling me to the spot where I really need to be,” Smiegel said.

This fellowship based group intends to uphold their mission and keep pointing students to their faith as they approach their 50th anniversary.

“You don’t have to be Catholic, we just want to get to know you and show you how God has impacted our lives,” Smiegel said. “I would just encourage everyone to say yes and try something new.”

Newman night kick-off with sand volleyball and a trip to Whit’s Frozen Custard in Ashland. (EMMA RAMSEY)