Christian Union Pizza Night in College - (L-R) Jonathan Wolstenholme, Hope Middleton, Hannah Smith, and Eleanor Coomber - © Eleanor Coomber

Merton Christian Union

2018/19

The Christian Union has enjoyed a full and exciting year, starting with the arrival of new freshers in Michaelmas. We welcomed students in Freshers’ Week with tea and cake, a group trip to the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (OICCU) three-course freshers’ banquet, and company and snacks in the JCR throughout the late nights of the week. It is always a joy to welcome new faces to churches and OICCU meetings, as well as to our regular meetings as a society and community in College, and we hope to have played a role in helping people settle in to their new life here in Oxford.

The CU has held bi-weekly Bible study meetings in College throughout the year, which also offer a chance to catch up, pray together, and enjoy each other’s company over biscuits and tea – always a welcome break in the middle of a busy week, and open to anyone. Alongside these, Michaelmas saw the return of the renowned Text-a-Toastie, allowing students from across the JCR to ask questions of the Christian Union and in return receive a home-made toastie of their choice delivered to them with a conversation, as long or short as they like, on the topic. We also hosted a free mulled wine and mince pies event before a University-wide Christmas Carol service in the Sheldonian, which is always a joyful and well-attended event. It was lovely to see so many Mertonians coming together over mulled wine and carols.

Hilary saw a Merton involvement in the annual OICCU events week held in the Town Hall, a week of talks and Q&As about different aspects of the Christian faith. In advance of the week, we held a well-attended Pizza Night in the JCR on the theme of ‘What makes you, you’, with a talk given by Hope Middleton (2016) entitled ‘1st, 2nd or 3rd: do my achievements define who I am?’ This provided a space for open and informal discussion about identity, life and faith, and a great opportunity for the CU to engage with the wider College community. At the end of the term, we held a similar event responding to feedback from members of the College on the question of suffering: ‘Where is God when life hurts?’ We invited Helen Hambling, who works for local church St Ebbe’s, to speak on the topic and lead an informal discussion, once again fuelled by snacks and soft drinks.

In Trinity, Hannah Smith (2017) and I have handed over to Joseph Rhee (2018) and Alex Beukers (2018) as the new Christian Union reps, and we are excited to see what the next year has in store, with new faces in October and new chances to encourage one another and engage with the College community.

Eleanor Coomber (2017)