A multitude of Christian campus ministries call UT their home.
The groups, which include Volunteers for Christ, CRU, Christian Student Fellowship and multiple church outreach programs, exist for students to explore and engage a religious realm.
And according to members of each ministry, these programs wish to give students a sense of community while at UT.
Volunteers for Christ is a group unique to UT's campus which offers a plethora of activities and events for students as part of a campus outreach for Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. Weekly meetings are on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in AMB room 210. They also host tailgates and Fall and Spring Break trips.
"It's nice to have community on campus," Zach Varnell, leader of VFC, said. "We like to see our ministry as a refuge for students to come and feel safe from the all the junk that happens on campus."
According to Varnell, their goal is to spread the Gospel around UT's campus. J.C. Evans, senior in geography, said he found VFC to be a welcoming group.
"I went to a bunch of other campus ministries, (and) never really fit in, but then a friend of mine brought me to VFC and I just felt more at home, natural, more welcomed," Evans said. "People there were just generally more accepting and more excited to see me. The messages were great, the worship was great and the people were great."
CRU, formally known as Campus Crusade for Christ, is a campus ministry that focuses on diversity, according to CRU director Britton Sharp.
CRU holds meetings every Thursday at 7:30 in AMB room 32. In addition, the group boasts a freshman retreat, fall retreat, tailgates before every home game and small groups in every residence hall.
"Well, I think UT is a very diverse place ... and in that there are a lot of people coming from different places," Sharp said. "So I think at CRU, one of the things we have to offer is a very broad diversity base. We have students from all over the U.S. and even some from a few different countries that are all at some point in their spiritual journey asking questions, and we want to be a safe place for people to ask questions and to process.
"We don't put pressure on people, but we challenge people to grow and to develop ... we want to challenge students to invest in UT, not just attend UT."
CRU also has a free smart phone application in the app store called "CRU865," which has event descriptions and resources for those with questions.
“Our desire is that everybody on campus would know that they are loved, valued and cared for, and there is somebody at UT that cares for them,” Sharp said.
Different from the larger campus ministries is Christian Student Fellowship. CSF, which meets at 2001 Lake Avenue on Thursdays at 8 p.m., uses its small numbers to help members feel connected, according to Hans Wangsness, junior in food science and technology.
“I went there and they were just really welcoming and I felt like it was just something I had to be involved in,” Wangsness said. “When I was new, they made sure I was comfortable and they gave me food and they offered for me to be able to live there, which I did this summer actually. For new people coming in, it’s cool to see members treat them how they treated me.”
Wangsness said that they also have a church service on Sunday and a contemporary one on Monday.
In addition to campus ministries, many churches have outreaches on campus. One of these is Antioch Community Church College Ministry, which holds their meetings on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. in the BCC. They also have tailgates and go on group outings such as hikes.
“If you come, you’re going to find a place where you can connect with people, like get real about who you are and what you want and where you are in your walk with the Lord and relationships and all that stuff,” said Logan Nester, junior in civil engineering. “You’re going to be brought into a community that loves to hang out and do stuff together.”
There are many options for students interested in Christian campus ministry, but, according to VFC intern Jonathan Kingslow-Cruz, the most important thing is finding a group of people to fit in with.
“But really, find (a campus ministry) that you really want to be a part of and just go for it, and really get involved and really get to know those people and build relationships with people in there and find opportunities to serve in it and just enjoy it,” Kingslow-Cruz said. “Enjoy this time in college and be a part of some organization.”
For more information about these ministries as well as others, click here.