Church to You connects students with local ministries

The Church to You initiative is hoping to meet every other week, according to McAllen senior and Deputy Director of Diversity Pato Pena. Art courtesy of Church to You

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Exploring churches in Waco can be hard for many students, while dealing with classes. The Church to You initiative invites ministers from different churches every other week to help students find their church home.

The first Church to You event was held Sept. 10 via Zoom. Three ministers were invited and spoke to the students who attended about their church and how to get involved. The students had a chance to ask questions and get to know the ministers and get an idea of what churches they may want to try out in the future.

McAllen senior and Deputy Director of Diversity Pato Pena said one of the most important things he found while at Baylor was community.

“The Church to You initiative provides that outreach during these uncertain times of COVID for the students to hear pastors before they go to the churches to talk about the experiences in that church in that community and hear what they have to offer and whether they want to be a part of that,” Pena said.

In addition to this outreach benefiting all Baylor students, Pena said it also is part of the diversity initiative. Being a person of color himself, he wanted to make things more inclusive for other minority students.

“I didn’t feel so comfortable, and I know I couldn’t be the only one after talking to various friends of mine who weren’t Southern Baptist, or didn’t have these Southern Baptists values,” Pena said. “They had their own heritage, their own experiences. Therefore, I wanted to provide that community church that they need, in the most home feeling way possible, and if that means I have to bring diverse churches onto the campus to access them, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Austin junior Geoffrey Guerrero said he was surprised by how many different and diverse churches are in the Waco area. He said as a person of color, it was hard to find his community at first, and this initiative is a good way to combat that challenge.

“I feel like it’s a great way to introduce people to different religions, in different cultures, and to expand their knowledge and … give them a different perspective and relate to something different,” Guerrero said.

Austin senior Paige Lizak said she enjoyed the first meeting and is planning to attend the next one on Oct. 1 to hear from more ministers in the Waco area.

“It can’t hurt to just listen and find out about things that you maybe didn’t think you’d be interested in before” Lizak said.

Pena said they are trying to have meetings every other week. He wants all students to come and give it a try.

“If you already have a community, I don’t think it’s ever wrong to learn more about someone else’s,” Pena said. “I advocate for that because I think we all should learn to love one another. We are told to love your brother, love your sister of all walks of life, and that being said, I think the only way to do that is by learning about each other. So I really hope that all students are able to come, and maybe you already have a community. Maybe your friend doesn’t. Tell them to come. We’re all just looking for a home.”