Religious and Spiritual Life Welcomes All Otterbein Students on Campus
Posted Mar 23, 2021
By Taylor Gill ’24
Otterbein University’s religious and spiritual life offerings are as varied as our community, ensuring that everyone feels free to express their beliefs and finds others who believe in the same things.
For college students, finding somewhere we feel we belong is important for our happiness and growth. One way to find that place is by getting involved in community and fellowship through religious or spiritual life groups. Meeting people who share the same beliefs allows one to create long-lasting friendships and a support system of people who care deeply about them.
Because Otterbein leaders understand how important religion and spirituality is in the lives of their students, they offer a variety of different religious and spiritual life groups on campus.
University Chaplain Judy Guion-Utsler oversees religious and spiritual life on campus.
“I’m the chaplain for everybody,” Guion-Utsler says. “To be a chaplain is to help people find meaning in their experiences.”
She is passionate about being someone who students of any religion can go to. She helps guide students to learn about and join religious groups on campus and become involved.
The groups that are active on campus include Otterbein Christian Fellowship (OCF); Otterbein Student Catholic Ministries; Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu student associations; PRISM Christian Ministry; and Interfaith Coalition.
Each group actively leads studies and small groups that guide students to ask big questions.
OCF is the largest student religious organization on Otterbein’s campus. Their goal is to “focus on equipping Christians and non-Christians with the resources needed to live and grow.” OCF hosts weekly meetings, small groups, and student retreats.
Otterbein Student Catholic Ministries is “focused on living, sharing, and growing in faith through fellowship, service, and the Mass.” Students carpool together to Mass close to campus, at St. Paul Catholic Church. They conduct weekly bible studies together and “chapel chat,” where they can reflect on the message.
PRISM Christian Ministry follows a progressive theology. They are LGBTQIA+ inclusive. Those involved follow the ideal that “the basic fundamentals of the gospels are to love,” Guion-Utsler says.
While the pandemic has limited some activities, many groups, including those supporting Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim students, are poised for growth in the coming years.
The Muslim Student Association requested a space for prayer on campus, and a masjid which allows Muslim students and faculty to conduct ritual prayers was created in 2016. Muslims conduct ritual prayers five times a day, so a convenient and accessible space to fit into busy university schedules was much needed. The masjid is a thoughtful environment that provides people a place to practice their religious services.
“Otterbein is very serious about inclusion, and this is inclusion,” Guion-Utsler says. “This is a place not just for students, but for Muslim faculty and staff as well. Creating this space actively demonstrates the institution’s commitment to welcoming all who want to learn.”
Learn more about spiritual and religious life at Otterbein.