A student in search of a church

Published on: 1 May 2017

I am a first year Occupational Therapy student at the University of East Anglia. My family is from London and I have been part of my home church, The Bear, for around 11 years. I was very sad to leave back in September.

As a slightly terrified fresher, I joined the UEA Christian Union in the first week. It felt like such a safe and welcoming place to go to as I tackled the rollercoaster that was starting university. I also have a Christian flat-mate who I went to the first few meetings with which really helped with the social side of joining a new community. Being a part of the Christian Union has majorly shaped my university experience as I have found some great friends and formed some really close bonds in the short time that I have been in Norwich.

One of the hardest things has been leaving my home church: my main body of support. As well as missing my friends I miss the older role models; their constant guidance and support as I try to settle into university. As university you are constantly surrounded by 18 to 21 year-olds and sometimes you want to chat to someone a little older to give you a bit of wisdom and encouragement. When I have visited churches in Norwich I have loved having conversations with people who reminded me of my youth leaders at The Bear.

I am still ‘shopping around’ for a church, which I know in March may seem a little late but I am determined to find one which I feel like I can fit into. Student life does have its challenges when deciding to get up early on Sunday sometimes feels like the last thing I want to do! I have also found the thought of going to a church where I know absolutely nobody really daunting.

Having visited a few churches over the past few months I have noticed a few things that a church can do which can really help. The welcome on arrival is so important as you feel that you are stepping into the unknown; so if someone starts a genuine conversation with you it can really help the nerves. It’s also really good to know a little about what the church believes in and what their main visions are so welcome desks for newcomers can be really helpful in terms of working out if the church is for you.

Student meals can be really great as well, as it allows us to get to know each other a bit and can help with the social side of things, although I appreciate that these are costly and not always easy to facilitate. I guess the most important thing that everyone in a congregation can do is make someone feel welcome because students need all the support they can get.

So, university can be hard and I couldn’t have got through this first year without my faith so I would encourage any new student to join their Christian Union, to keep them grounded in their faith, and take their time finding a church.

Find out more about how you or your church can support students at www.uccf.org.uk or www.fusion.uk.com/churches

This article is from...

Articles in this issue...

Face to faith – Florence Toplis

Hello, I am Florence, member of Aylsham Parish Church and I'm ten years old. I am a server for my church and I am a part of the youth group there. I am also very proud to be confirmed and write this article for The Magazine.


A changing world, a changing church and a new generation

Each generation has to cope with changes in technology and culture but how is life really experiences by young people today? How has the church changed to help young people through these current challenging times and will it be enough to keep faith part of English culture? James Dawes has discussed these issues with leaders and fellow young people to discover their thoughts.


God calls the young

On our recent Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, our Palestinian guide reminded us that 2,000 years ago the usual age for betrothal was fourteen. So Mary would probably have been a young teenager when she gave birth to Jesus.


A pilgrim’s progress in high school

The world is becoming a scary place for young people. With everything going on – Brexit, a new Prime Minister, tuition fees rising – it is even more difficult for those with a Christian faith (I have learnt from experience!).


By Your Side: a short story

I have a great friend. He’s always there for me. When I’m having trouble with my work or something like that he’ll help me. If I’m being bullied he’ll get rid of the bully. If I get upset, he’ll comfort me. We’re best friends. He’s the kind of friend everyone would want.


My cathedral life: Lucy Thalange

My parents started taking me to Norwich Cathedral when I was three years old so naturally Sunday school was the highlight for me. I also enjoyed people-watching, and at communion I noticed that it was only the people that put their hands out who got the bread.


One Day with Charlotte Snell – Member of Youth Parliament

The alarm goes off at 8am. I sit up, open the curtains and thank God for the day ahead. Today I have a busy day with the Norfolk Youth Parliament as I will be meeting with my local MP, Chloe Smith, attending the Shelf Help Launch and a meeting about the Make Your Mark Ballot.


Young Vocations – called to ministry

It all started shortly after my nineteenth birthday. I was in the pub listening to a friend who was having a tough time when he said something very strange to me, ‘Jack, you would make a great vicar!’


A young photographer’s journey around a church

Lucy Thomas, aged 11, has two passions, drumming and photography. Here she shares her shots of a first-time visit to St Mary's, Burgh-next-Aylsham.


Keep up to date

Subscribe to our eNews for a snapshot of news, events and resources, usually emailed once a fortnight

Signup to newsletter