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Longboarders skate to relieve stress

By Heather Cox, contributing writer

It’s a breezy, early morning as Ruth Wooster (fr) comes out of Beckett Hall, steps onto her longboard and rolls down the sidewalk toward class—the fresh morning air waking her up and melting away her stress.

Colin Jensen (so) rides his longboard outside the Philippe Performing Arts Center.

Colin Jensen (so) rides his longboard outside the Philippe Performing Arts Center. // Photo by Becka Roth

Hundreds of students on campus have taken up longboarding over the past several years for those same reasons: it’s a relaxing mode of building-to-building transportation on the university’s ever-expanding campus.

Longboarding began as a sport called “downhill skateboarding” in the late 1970s, and the first longboards began appearing on IWU’s campus around 1998 and 1999, according to Joel Cash (sr).

Cash has been longboarding since 2000, when he first attended IWU before taking a multi-year break from his studies, which he recently resumed.

Wooster, who has been longboarding for around 3 weeks now, said “it’s super relaxing and gets you places faster.”

Jonathan Daugherty (so), who has been longboarding for close to a year, agrees and adds: “it’s a stress release, and it’s a fun thing to do with friends.”

The Midwest Longboarding Association states longboarding began picking up popularity around 2010. The Ripple, a longboarding shop in Carmel, Ind., said its board sales began rapidly increasing around 2006.

Though Indiana doesn’t have many steep hills, there are still ways for people in the Midwest to get more involved and serious about downhill skateboarding. The MLA advertises and organizes events for the sport and recently had one at Indiana University.

The longboarding culture is improving and moving rapidly and constantly, on and off campus.

“I think a lot of people would find it fun and stress relieving like I do. I definitely like seeing a culture of longboarding,” Daugherty said.

Jesse Turcott (sr) explained, “I like the challenge of learning a new trick or skill. I also love going on solo rides late at night if I need to get away or think or just enjoy a nice evening breeze.”

As colder weather is rounding the corner, longboarding might get put on hold for some people.

“My longboard usually gets put up once it gets cold, as I only use it for recreation,” Daugherty said.

Some, such as Turcott, will continue with the love for longboarding throughout the cold seasons.

“I actually board throughout the year,” Turcott said. “As long as there isn’t snow on the sidewalks, I’ll still go out and board. I just have to layer up a little more.”

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The inside scoop on chapel worship

Meg Sanders (jr), Taylor Showley (jr) and their band lead worship in the Chapel Auditorium.

Meg Sanders (jr), Taylor Showley (jr) and their band lead worship in the Chapel Auditorium.

Before each designated chapel, worship leaders Taylor Showley (jr) and Meg Sanders (jr) meet to pray about which songs they want to sing at the service. After shooting around ideas, they leave, pray on their own and convene before making a decision.

“Our motto is that we seek God first, and he takes care of the rest,” Showley said.

Worship teams at Indiana Wesleyan University have garnered both praise and criticism for the songs they perform in the Chapel Auditorium, especially the new songs. But regardless of certain comments, the worship teams have one goal in mind: to honor God.

“We’re praying about everything … but also taking into consideration and praying about what our student body wants,” worship chaplain Rachel Rubadiri (jr) said. “We’re just here to be with Jesus.”

The chapel worship team consists of five bands on rotation. Each band has at least one worship leader who proposes which songs they will perform.

Rubadiri, Assistant Professor of Church Music Dr. Michael Dennis and Chapel Coordinator Jennifer Martin review the list of songs submitted by worship leaders.

The team assesses each song based on a rubric from Dr. Constance Cherry’s book “Selecting Songs for Worship.” The rubric’s three categories include theology, lyrics and music. They either approve the list or make some suggestions.

The topic of introducing new songs in chapel has come up several times in weekly meetings, Rubadiri said. So far, the group is beginning to “lean more towards getting back to the basics.”

“A new song can be great, but it can be hard sometimes,” Rubadiri said. “[People] really enjoy when we do traditional songs as well, and that’s something that we’ve really looked at.”

When the worship team introduces several new songs on one day, it can be “alienating” to students who are unfamiliar with them, according to Ariel Blocher-Smith (jr).

“It’s good to have some more familiar ones to draw people in and … make them feel welcome, especially if we would have students visiting,” Blocher-Smith said.

Showley said introducing the audience to new songs is “really a challenge for us as worship leaders to do.”

Whenever the worship band introduces a new song, Rubadiri said, the intent is to repeat it enough so that the audience becomes familiar with it.

Another challenge worship leaders face is that everyone on campus comes from a different background, Showley said. Sometimes, everyone on the worship team will know a song and perform it, only for the audience to not receive it well.

Showley said the worship leaders are constantly in communication about how and when to introduce new songs.

“We’re students,” Showley said. “We’re learning too.”

Showley said she and Sanders have some new songs they think will be received well. They are waiting for the right time to introduce them.

“We want to create an atmosphere and a space where people can meet with God. That is our number one goal,” Showley said. “If it’s where God’s place is and it’s what he wants to do in that chapel service, then we’ve done our job.”

This semester’s worship chapels fall on Oct. 15 and Nov. 24. On these days, the worship bands will play for the entirety of the service.

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SGA forum highlights ways to accept LGBTQ community

“Some of the views you might actually disagree with, and that’s okay,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs for Student Government David Priest (sr).  This is how he introduced the Student Government Association’s forum on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) issues Oct. 8, which was a continuation of the forum held last year.

This forum comes at a critical time when many Christians schools, and specifically schools who join Indiana Wesleyan University in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), are facing legal consequences about their traditional stances against homosexual practices among their faculty and students.

In July, Michael Lindsey, president of Gordon College, signed a petition asking President Barack Obama to add an exemption clause for religious institutions from a pending non-discrimination order.

Gordon is now facing the loss of city contracts and looking over their own policies against “homosexual practices” under pressure from their accreditation board, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Gordon students seem to be on board with the changes. A recent petition, started by a Gordon alumnus, asking for the phrase “homosexual practice” be removed from the Life and Conduct Statement has more than 1,000 signatures at this point.

At IWU, students like Phil Ross (sr) hope this forum will bring a new perspective on the conversation.

“Time and time again we’re called as Christians to enter into the world and to be the light and salt of the earth and to go and be community with those who really need to be reached out to,” Ross said. “This is a group of people that we’ve marginalized and put to the side and ignored over and over again.”

Ross emphasized people don’t have to change their theological perspective to be friends and love the people around them, no matter their sexual orientation.

“Both the church and the LGBTQ community have harmed each other greatly … but we’re called to be the redemptive people that bring healing on the earth,” Ross said.

Indiana University journalism student Suzanne Grossman, an openly gay Christian, gave her perspective on what IWU can do as a community to be more loving to those around it.

“Something they could do for maybe transgender students is incorporate more training in the health center on how to handle certain situations,” Grossman said.

She explained how changing access to legal versus preferred names at IU has helped transgender students so they are not accidentally “outed” while a teacher is taking attendance or they are waiting in the doctor’s office.

“You don’t have to be affirming or non-affirming to accept policies that are more inclusive, such as that,” Grossman said.

George Fox University and California Baptist University have both recently faced lawsuits involving transgender students and their housing policies. Currently, IWU has no policy or precedents for dealing with transgender students.

Ross commented on further ways to build community. He critiqued the counseling sessions, saying they can feel like a “fix it” situation.

“I think a lot of people see it as, well if you’re struggling with this, then go here and you can get help,” Ross said, “Rather, I would love to see what it would look like to have discussion groups on these topics.”

He advocates for groups that can discuss more casually, so people who have LGBTQ friends or family members will also feel welcome to learn more about this debate.

Wheaton College, also a member of the CCCU, recently created a group called Refuge, where LGBTQ students can meet in community. At the moment, this group is only open to LGBTQ students, not to all who wish to discuss the matter, but it is the first time a group like this has been made official on Wheaton’s campus.

However, nine other CCCU schools have rejected applications for club status from LGBTQ groups. These schools will not accept groups that want to affirm gay identity or advocate for gay rights, given their theological backgrounds and code of conduct policies.

As IWU and Christian colleges in general move further into discussions and dealings with sexuality, Professor of Mission and Anthropology from Trinity University Dr. Robert Priest, believes these institutions must take their education on the topic of sexuality seriously.

“We’re not cultivating the kinds of expertise and in-depth understandings that give us even a credible platform to speak into this situation,” Priest said. “We are a knowledge institution. We have no coursework, no curriculum, no sustained year-after-year effort to forge better understandings, but now legally we are trying to come up with an answer.”

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What do Wesleyans believe about creation?

The recent controversy over a Gungor performance may have put the conflict over creation on the front page, but the conversation has been going on for much longer at Indiana Wesleyan University and in evangelical Christian circles.

In fact, the Office of the Dean of the Chapel asked IWU science faculty months ago to lead a week-long chapel series on creation, beginning Oct. 20.

A view of God's creation from the mountains of Golden, Colo. // Photo taken by Hannah Whelchel

A view of God’s creation from the mountains of Golden, Colo. // Photo taken by Hannah Whelchel

While many Wesleyans would profess a six-day creation, it is not necessary for acceptance into the Wesleyan Church.

Wesley Seminary Dean Dr. Ken Schenck said Wesleyan theology accepts a variety of stances on creation.

“It’s important to believe that the Bible is inspired; the Bible is not a mistake. It’s important to believe that God directed, however it happened, but the Wesleyan Church doesn’t have an official statement saying you can’t believe in theistic evolution or you have to believe these were 24-hour days,” Schenck said.

“We believe the Bible is inspired, the text is not an error, but we allow for some spectrum of interpretations of Genesis,” he said.

The Articles of Religion for the Wesleyan Church states that God is “Creator and Preserver of all things” as well as “the Source of all that exists, whether of matter or spirit.”

The absence of a definite Wesleyan theology on the “how” of creation allows students the freedom and comfort of retaining the views of their specific denomination, while unifying the church in the truths they hold as foundational.

“Indiana Wesleyan is a place that is very friendly to literal six-day creationists. In fact, most of our students would agree with them,” Schenck said. “But we aren’t going to kick out anyone for believing otherwise.”

The Sojourn conducted a poll of 150 students at McConn and Baldwin, asking if students believed in a literal, six-day creation, a different method of creation or if they were undecided.

Fifty-one percent of those polled stated that they believe in a literal reading of the beginning of Genesis — six, 24-hour days of creation and one day of rest.

“I believe in a Young Earth creation because when you look at scientific evidence on both sides of the issue, there is no ‘proof’ of evolution that has not been refuted properly and sufficiently,” John Mason (fr) said. “The Old Earth perspective and the theistic evolutionist perspective stretches Biblical Hebrew much too far for my comfort.”

Of the remaining students, 19 percent do not believe in a literal reading of Genesis and 30 percent chose the third option – that they are still pondering the question or have decided that the specifics of creation aren’t as important to their personal faith as the truth that God created everything.

While not all of the students at IWU are Wesleyan, the freedom that the church doctrine allows can present a challenge for Bible and Natural Science professors when teaching Genesis and creation.

Professor of Biblical Studies Dr. Stephen Lennox aims to unite his students, showing them that neither a six-day creationist view or a theistic evolution view is unchristian or impossible to be supported biblically.

“My main goal is to try to say, ‘Where do we draw the line?’ in terms of what’s an acceptable and an unacceptable view,” Lennox said, “then to help students understand that the argument is really a family argument.”

According to Lennox, by showing his students the metaphorical nature of books like Psalms and encouraging them to read the text in its ancient cultural context, he hopes to show them “people who don’t hold a highly literal view aren’t denying the authority of Scripture, and there may be other ways to embrace the authority of Scripture other than taking a highly literal view of it.”

This disagreement between denominations is something IWU faculty have also encountered.

“We have some professors who would believe in a very literal Genesis [creation], and we have some professors who would believe that God directed the process of evolution,” Schenck said.

Other colleges, such as Cedarville or Liberty University, have their faculty sign a doctrine of faith or hold a statement professing a belief in a six-day creation. Bryan College recently lost nine faculty members over enforcing a more literal doctrine.

According to Lennox, IWU has a more cooperative approach to the diversity held in creation beliefs.

“I think what [professors] share in common is not to dismiss–not to dechristianize each other–because they all believe in the Bible,” he said.

In the book “Common Ground,” written by Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy Keith Drury, he emphasizes what Christians must believe about creation.

“Christians insist on rejecting any theory of creation that leaves God out, but we are open to discussing any theory that confesses God as Creator,” writes Drury.  “How he created is interesting but is not relevant to our core faith.”

Stephen Conrad, Associate Professor of Biology, uses similar methods to Lennox as he teaches about creation. He brings up many different theories, all rooted in the creator, such as Literal Creation, Progressive Creation, Theistic Evolution, and Historical Creationism.

“We talk about what the different views say, the big proponents of each one, what you’ll have to reconcile with each one, and whether or not they are compatible with naturalistic science,” Conrad said.

While he presents a wide range of ideas, he maintains that none of them are completely secular.

“None of them are compatible with naturalistic science. Because naturalistic science says there’s no God. And we’re starting with a God,” Conrad said.

He hopes through the presentation of multiple theories, instead of one concrete answer, his students are challenged to develop their own faith.

“This is definitely something that everybody needs to wrestle with. Everybody needs to come up with an answer on their own,” Conrad said. “I think that’s the way to do this discussion is to make sure that students know that it is a bit controversial and it is something that you need to figure out on your own.”

However, like Drury, he recognizes that this is not the most important question.

“Ultimately how I leave it is: it’s great to think about, it’s great to debate, but the real question you want to get right is not, ‘How did God create the earth?’ but ‘Who is Jesus and what did he do for you?” Conrad said.

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