The Merton Christian Union started off the academic year with welcoming the new freshers to Merton. We held two events during Freshers’ Week to welcome freshers and to get to know some of them – a fun games night run by myself and my co-rep Alex Beukers (2018) for those wanting a nice night-in accompanied by some ice-breaking games and a CU Tea and Cake event for those wanting some tea and cake with a nice chat. It was lovely to get to meet the new freshers, spend some time having fun together and help them settle in; and for those seeking to get involved with churches and the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (OICCU) it was also a joy welcoming new faces to them and introducing some freshers to these communities.
During term time the CU meet fortnightly in College for a Bible study meeting. In addition to reading the Bible together it also provides an opportunity to catch up with each other, pray together and spend some time relaxing in the middle of a busy week – this has always been a highlight of the week for me and it’s great to see Mertonians across the years come together, with everyone welcome to the meetings. In addition to this regular meeting in Michaelmas we held a Text-a-Toastie event where students from the JCR could ask questions of the Christian Union in return for a conversation, however short or long, accompanied by a toastie with fillings of their choice. Later in term we also held a free mulled wine and mince pies event before going to a University-wide Christmas carol service (in November!) in the Sheldonian, and as always the mulled wine aided the gallant singing of the carols by the Mertonians who had come together for a joyful time near the end of Michaelmas.
In Hilary term Merton got involved with the annual OICCU events week held in the Town Hall – a week with talks and Q&As giving students an opportunity to explore the Christian faith. It was great to see many Mertonians attend the talks and they provided opportunities for thought-provoking conversations about faith, life and Jesus that we wouldn’t normally have.
As Trinity term was held virtually, this made us transfer our Bible study meetings to Zoom and we have continued to meet during term. This has provided a great time to continue to catch up with each other, but most importantly, while separated, an opportunity to support one another through prayer and fellowship.
With Michaelmas 2020 approaching, Alex Beukers (2018) and I are excited to welcome more freshers to Merton and the Merton Christian Union, and to continue to be a loving, welcoming and supportive community of Mertonians in College.
Joseph Jae-Sung Rhee
Christian Union Rep 2019-20