RESOURCES FOR LOCAL RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES
It’s our hope and expectation that local religious communities provide safe, healthy, and vibrant opportunities for students to grow while simultaneously honoring students’ educational commitments and who they are as a whole person.
To that end, we offer a resource guide with suggestions for how local religious communities can connect to TCU students. Within it are suggestions of ways to connect and support students while honoring their privacy and safety as well as university guidelines. How well these ideas work depend on the gifts, strengths and interests of each local congregation and interested students. The resource guide can be viewed here.
In addition to the resource guide, the University occasionally hosts a Faith Fair Potluck and Picnic for local religious communities to connect with new students in the fall semester. To be added to the notification list for the next one, please contact our office.
Finally, this academic year in January, RSL will host a one-day Community Partners Institute – an opportunity to bring together community religious leaders who work with college students and young adults, everywhere, but especially with students from TCU. The day will include opportunities to hear from campus experts about: 1) current issues on college campuses; 2) the demographics of today’s college student at TCU and beyond; 3) best practices for local religious communities and 4) campus resources to help students, especially students in crisis. The last part of the day will include opportunities for community partners to discuss future ideas for collaboration.
THE ROLES OF ON AND OFF-CAMPUS RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES
It’s important to note that for over at least 25 years, in order to best-serve students, the university has maintained an important distinction between 1) on-campus religious organizations, 2) campus ministries with associate university staff from national organizations, and 3) local college based ministries and religious communities. All have a valuable, yet distinctly unique role with different abilities and limitations. Each of these is explained below:
Student Religious Organizations – independent university-recognized organizations run by students whose primary purpose is for the creation of on-campus student religious community. These groups are advised by full-time faculty/staff adviser and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and they are not affiliated with local communities or agencies. These organizations must comply not only with all university policies, but also state and federal laws relating to higher education student organizations.
Agency-Based Student Religious Organizations – these are university-approved student religious organizations who adhere to the same policies and expectations as independent student organizations; yet, in addition to receiving support from a faculty/staff adviser and RSL staff, they also receive leadership and pastoral support from associate staff. These staff are requested by the University based off assessed student need and populations, and staff are always non-university employed campus ministers who represent a particular religious tradition, denomination or other population. These individuals go through an annual recognition, approval and training process.
Congregation-Based Campus Ministries – student ministries and other groups that are connected to or sponsored by a local religious community or organization. These can range from college groups, Sunday schools, youth-based nonprofits, etc. Because these are not on-campus organizations, they are not required to adhere to the same organizational policies and standards as university recognized organizations. At the same time, they are expected to limit advertising, recruiting and meeting to off-campus locations only. For questions about how off-campus religious communities can interact with the university community in safe and healthy ways, please view our resource guide or contact our office.