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Dozens of active groups represent a variety of faiths on campus

Thursday, July 29, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
The Islamic Center of Central Missouri, established in 1983, is home to a very diverse and dynamic community composed of indigenous muslims, international students and immigrants. The center hosts guest lecturers and events to encourage community involvment and diversity.

Dozens of active religious groups on campus offer a wide range of faith services, community outreach programs and leadership initiatives.

Involvement with religious organizations not only gives students a chance to meet like-minded people on campus, but it also can help them get involved with the local community.

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One benefit of attending a university as large as MU can be the exposure to new religious groups and ideologies.

The religious organizations on campus “demonstrate how strong diversity is at the university and in the broader Columbia community,” according to the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative.

A list of religious groups on campus may be found at getinvolved.missouri.edu or diversity.missouri.edu/resources/religious.

There are groups that cater to both mainstream and niche ideologies, Although by no means definitive, the following provides a brief outline of some of the main religious groups on campus.

One of the most active religious presences on campus is the Baptist Student Union. There has been an active Baptist ministry on campus since 1905 and a dedicated Baptist Student Center on campus since 1949.

Located at 812 Hitt St., the BSU holds meetings throughout the semester every Thursday at 8:12 p.m. On Aug. 21, the organization is planning to hold its New2MU event.

According to the BSU website, New2MU is “designed specifically with new students in mind.”  The event aims to welcome new students to the BSU community and introduce them to the mission of the group.

Another active religious group on campus is the St. Thomas More Parish and Newman Center, a Catholic organization at 701 Maryland Ave.

The Newman Chapel began offering services in 1963; the current church opened in 1994.

The Newman Center hosts daily Mass at noon every weekday, 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays.  It also offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 4 to 4:30 p.m.

From Aug. 18 to 22, the Newman Center will hold Welcome Week for new students. This involves a range of activities to introduce new students to the center.

For Jewish students, there is Mizzou Hillel at 1107 University Ave. With over 700 Jewish students at MU, Mizzou Hillel is an active group.

According to its website, “Mizzou Hillel is a place where Jewish students at Mizzou come to meet each other and get involved in Jewish life at the university.”

The Muslim Student Association is located in Memorial Union.  In addition to arranging a number of annual events for Muslim students, the group is responsible for informing students about prayer spaces.

For incoming students interested in pursuing secular interests, there is the MU Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists and Agnostics (SASHA) group.

MU SASHA holds meetings throughout the semester on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in Ellis Auditorium.

“Activities include group discussions, debates and student presentations,” James Pflug, president of the group, said.  “Meetings are usually very casual.”


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