Many campus ministries focus on the social needs of Christian students in secular universities. But the Christian Reformed campus ministry at the University of Western Ontario in London is different.
Campus pastor Michael Wagenman runs the Kuyper Centre at the university, aiming to give students the tools they need to integrate their university studies with their Christian faith.
Students at the Kuyper Centre
The Kuyper Centre offers various co-curricular courses as well the Emerging Scholars program, a rigorous academic mentorship program for higher-level students “with an eye toward becoming persons of influence in a variety of academic and vocational fields,” according to Wagenman.
Students meet biweekly with Wagenman or a Christian professor from their discipline, attend several off-campus weekend events, and complete essays addressing specific questions and topics.
Danielle Rowaan, a Western graduate, said, “In an academic program that was quite critical of the ways in which Christianity has been used by people in power to buttress their own interests, speaking with Mike about God’s heart for justice, especially as expressed through the Old Testament prophets, was essential for me in keeping my faith alive. . . . The Kuyper Centre will support other students as they make connections between their faith and the classroom.”
Professors such as Dr. Rod DeKoter of Western’s Microbiology and Immunology Department, have noted, “The Kuyper Centre is like a catalyst because it brings students and faculty together who might otherwise never cross paths.”
The Kuyper Centre is a more academic, demanding program than many campus ministries. While it might not draw the numbers of some of the other 22 Christian agencies on campus, Wagenman noted that in discussions, “we can get so deep together because it’s a small group—there’s a depth, a level of relationship that students won’t find anywhere else. It’s important to these students.”