Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post
Grace Eberly

Rethinking Religion: What I, a non-Christian, learned when I attended Cru

Columnist Grace Eberly attended Cru’s weekly worship service to observe, report and reflect.

Throughout the course of the semester, I’ve written this column in an attempt to generate meaningful dialogue on our campus. I’ve written on topics ranging from reality television and religion to ISIS and Islam. I have written much about minority religions and have urged for a more sophisticated understanding and appreciation of the positive ways religion presents itself in our world. I’ve argued that we must not condemn the beliefs of many for the actions of a few.

Perhaps I haven’t given Christianity this same courtesy.

I stand by everything I have said in the short history of this column. I wrote (and still affirm) that I yearn for a more mature, responsible, self-reflective Christianity — one that is at the forefront of justice in this world, not one that has to be dragged behind kicking and screaming. But I am guilty of having depreciated Christianity in the same way that many Americans seem to depreciate Islam. I have at times undervalued Christianity by treating it as something that is monolithic, static and denies any shred of personal agency.

And so, two weeks ago, I swallowed my pride and attended 180, Cru’s weekly worshiping gathering at Ohio University.

Cru is a student community that is “passionate about connecting people to Jesus.” It meets weekly Thursdays at 9 p.m. in Morton 201.

I had heard a rumor that Cru was the largest student organization on campus, with upward of 400 students attending 180 on a weekly basis. I said I wouldn’t believe it until I saw it with my own eyes. I believe it.

Morton 201 is one of the largest lecture halls on campus and, when I slipped in and sat down in the back row with pen and paper in hand, nearly every seat was filled.

What’s more? I have never seen so many students in a lecture hall paying attention. Seriously. The hundreds of students that were there were totally tuned in. There was none of the “discrete” texting that you see in classes and meetings. Ninety minutes without college kids checking their phones or being obnoxiously loud — it was almost enough to make me convert right then and there.

The evening began with devotional songs led by a praise band (composed of singers, guitarists, a drummer, a cellist and a violinist). These weren’t your grandma’s church hymns. The music was contemporary, fast-paced, and I even caught myself tapping my foot on several occasions.

Then, a female student shared her testimony and encouraged others to strengthen their personal relationship with God. After more music, another student approached the podium and delivered the sermon — which was, ironically, on the subject of fear.

I was afraid. I hadn’t attended any kind of church service in probably four or five years. I was afraid that I would be harassed and evangelized. Neither of those things happen. I had not given these Christians — my fellow students — the benefit of the doubt.

After the sermon, the room engaged in five minutes of silent prayer and reflection as an acoustic guitar played softly in the background. I must say, I appreciated the break. Between classes, work and extracurricular activities, I rarely take the time to just sit with myself. As I looked around the room and saw three hundred college students completely silent and thinking about something bigger than themselves, I smiled.

{{tncms-asset app="editorial" id="4ec243ba-8f1b-11e5-bf54-73798dcbcc15"}}

The theme of one of Cru’s upcoming conferences is, “This changes everything.” I must admit that I did not leave 180 re-committed to the Christian faith. But, for what it may be worth, much indeed had changed.

This was not the Christianity of the dark corners of Facebook. This was not the Christianity of Kim Davis. This was the Christianity of my classmates. This was a Christianity of comfort, of sacrifice and of love. And that is a Christianity that I, as a non-Christian, can get behind.

Grace Eberly is a senior studying world religions and biology. Have you ever attended a Cru gathering? Email her at

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH