One of the first things a potential Drury student hears about is the amazing variety of clubs and organizations that the university has to offer. From DVC (Drury Volunteer Corps) to the DUkes, Drury offers over 100 different types of organizations that appeal to all sorts of people. While this is one of the many wonderful things about Drury, it can also be intimidating. All of those options can seem overwhelming from the outside looking in, and you might wonder how you could ever figure out where you belong. I am here to tell you that you are not alone.
When I came to Drury I was excited by all of the opportunities presented to me, but in the back of my mind I was also terrified that I would never be able to find my place when I had so many options to choose from. Of course, I was able to narrow down my options to some extent; however, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to commit to more than a couple of those while still keeping up with my school work. I was looking for more than just a group to join, I was looking for a community to be a part of, and I found that community in The Vine.
The Vine is an on-campus ministry that meets every Tuesday evening at 7:30 in Washington Avenue Church, or Wash Ave as it’s more commonly known. We come together every week for an hour of fellowship, music, and bible study. We have a talented worship band that plays all sorts of contemporary Christian music, and Duane Hoffman is always prepared with an enlightening 30 to 45-minute sermon. All of this is, of course, punctuated by time for fellowship when people can simply be together as a community and share their lives with one another.
This is the place where I found my campus “family.” I have met many different kinds of wonderful people and made so many friends in just one year of being a part of this organization. It was a vital source of stability for me as I was trying to navigate this new collegiate world that I’d just entered in to.
With its regular, weekly gatherings, and a host of other fun events, I found that The Vine was different from other organizations when it came to truly connecting with people. Duane Hoffman is the pastor who gives the sermon every Tuesday evening. This is his second year leading these sermons and sharing the Word on Drury’s campus. Duane describes The Vine as a place that “…is all about developing leaders through the Bible and through truth and community. We’re trying to give everyone an opportunity to build good, quality relationships, and at the same time, learning the Bible and following God’s way.”
It is a faith-based group that welcomes anyone and everyone who is looking for a safe place to find community. As it turns out, I am not the only person who has found this sense of family in The Vine. Johnna McGlaughlin has just started her third year as a member of The Vine, and her second year on the leadership team. Johnna says she comes to The Vine because “It’s a source of really great community, and it really helps me to grow in my faith. I love the message, and I love playing in worship band every week. It’s just a really great place to be with a really fun atmosphere.”
I decided to ask a few others why they come to The Vine, and I got some pretty similar answers.
“I come to The Vine for the community of fellow believers. When I’m worried about school and things, I’ve always got them there to support me.” -Joshua Kimrey
“I come to The Vine because it helps me destress from the week, and get to be with people who believe in what I believe in.” -Keely Temple
These people, and more, have found that The Vine is a place where believers can gather together and engage in a friendly and welcoming community. There is a certain stigma, however, that the term “campus ministry” carries with it, and that is the idea that it is a “Christians-only” organization. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Malaika Uding, a second year member of The Vine, wants people to know that The Vine is a place for fellowship, and that “Fellowship isn’t just with Christ-followers; fellowship is with people in general.”
There isn’t a checklist that one must complete before coming to The Vine. It is an all-inclusive group where people of varying degrees of faith can come together and forget the troubles of the week for an hour or so every Tuesday. Bridger Falkenstien is another third- year member of The Vine, and he encourages all people to come and join in fellowship no matter where they are in their faith: “If you’re afraid to come to The Vine because you’re broken, welcome home! Because that’s all of us.”
Kylie Pfaff shares this opinion and would love to see The Vine grow to reach anyone and everyone: “The Vine is a place for broken and lost sinners. None of us is perfect or has all the answers, we are just striving to learn more about Jesus. We are a community that welcomes anyone who wants to be a part of it.”
The Vine is so much more than an organization; it’s a family that longs to accept and embrace anyone who wishes to join it. It is for these reasons and more that so many people have found their home in The Vine and have become connected on Drury’s campus. This kind of community, coupled with a wholesome and healthy environment, is exactly what I was looking for when I left home for college. I don’t ever have to feel homesick or lonely, because I have found an extraordinary community that will always be there to support and comfort me.