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Refuge belongs on campus: A response

As a Christian woman, I understand feeling unsafe in a critical world. Identifying as a subordinate in any society opens up the doors to intolerance, oppression and even hatred. To survive, one must find their place of refuge.

For LGBTQ students and straight allies on Eastern’s campus, that place is Walton 1 on Monday nights at 9 p.m. – a Refuge meeting.

When I began attending Eastern, I realized that the love and acceptance of our campus was overwhelming. The fellowship among the students and faculty blew me away. The presence of God was undeniable.

However, I quickly became conscious of the fact that not everyone was welcome to join the campus-wide congregation. I needed to find a place of refuge within this Christian community.

When I first saw a flyer advertising Refuge, relief ran through my veins, and the weight of fear was taken off my shoulders.

Not only did the flyer offer a sense of liberation, but it also offered hope and an answer to prayer.

I was impressed with the university’s understanding of today’s world and all of God’s children in it. To me, this expressed Eastern’s commitment to compassion, diversity and justice.

I am a proud member of Refuge. Refuge is not a “homosexual club.” Also, the group is not an ex-gay affiliate. It does not exist to correct homosexuals or fix an LGBTQ student.

Instead, it is a safe place which focuses on homosexuality and homosexual issues, like sexual orientation, especially relating to Christianity and reconciliation. It is a forum for dialogue, not debate, among people with various beliefs.

Refuge offers a new perspective to Eastern students concerning LGBTQ issues; this makes the student body more aware of a culture that has historically been oppressed by the church.

Attending a meeting is a multicultural occurrence, as is attending a meeting of the Black Student League or Latinos Unidos.

On a deeper level, Refuge is a fellowship. When a student is struggling with their sexuality, it is a personal and emotional experience. There is an immense amount of trust within the walls of a Refuge meeting. There are always open ears and open hearts present.

Refuge offers support. Supporting an individual struggling with orientation and promoting homosexuality are different things. Members are concerned with each person, each heart. Together, attendees create a spiritual atmosphere which promotes prayer, fellowship, family and love – not being gay.

Part of Eastern’s responsibility to its students is to prepare them for the real world. We, as students, should be devoted to learning about society and its cultures.

Groups like Refuge offer variety to this campus. That variety is a blessing. If it is taken away from us, then as the author of “Why Refuge doesn’t belong” from the 2/22 issue of the Waltonian said, “…this campus will eventually crumble, and it will surely fall.”

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