We have some exciting news to announce! God is leading us through some big changes.
In the Fall of 2021, Encounter’s Board and Staff launched into a season of prayer and discernment. Our goal was to simply ask God: How do you want to move on-campus in the coming decades, and how might we dig wells that will help others drink in those future seasons? In those months of prayer, God deepened a number of convictions for us. Here are a handful of things we felt God was reinforcing:
- We want to grow our influence on campus, introducing more students to Jesus and helping them become mature men and women of faith.
- We want to create spaces where we have more natural connections to unchurched students.
- We want our internship program to continue providing a path toward vocational ministry, helping bolster the next generation of local church leaders.
- We want to create spaces where students in crisis can find help, most specifically with the growing mental health crisis on campus. We see students struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm, addictions, OCD, and eating disorders on a regular basis. We want to create more direct connections to local Christian counselors, becoming a natural conduit for much needed care.
We knew that rethinking the campus house (our property at 300 Normal Ave) would likely be a key part of this dreaming. In our ministry’s 56 year history, the campus house has always been the hub of ministry activity. But with more than 15 staff and several hundred students currently involved, it is apparent that we will need to make some major building changes to grow our ministry and vision.
In May of 2022, we approached the owners of the Campus Religious Center (210 W Mulberry) with a proposal to buy their property (which would also include trading them our current property). The CRC’s property sits in the heart of campus life, directly across from the Hewett/Manchester residence halls, and is nearly 3x the size of our current spot. After nearly a year of conversation and negotiation, we have reached an agreement with the owners to make this swap/purchase, and we tentatively have a moving date of mid-June!
God has not only led us through all of the negotiations in the last year, but has also already provided the resources to do it. Through a gracious gift from Eastview’s 2022 Expanding Ministry Offering and an incredible matching gift from a community donor, we are able to make this major upgrade completely debt free! What appeared as an impossible long-shot a year ago, God has faithfully made possible. He is good! And we are excited and blown away by how He has miraculously moved obstacles to make this happen.
With that excitement also comes a tinge of sadness. The Campus House has been our home for many years, and is connected to many memories for our staff, students, and alumni. We plan to have an event at the end of May to have one last hurrah before our move.
The new building is in need of major renovation, and we plan on spending the coming months better understanding how to match our future dreams to that facility. We’re trusting that God will continue to clear the path ahead as we do our best to help love and serve college students in the name of Jesus. Pray and celebrate with us as we continue to lean in!
Grace! (Ben and the staff)