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UNIFIED, an experience

Iowa Central Community College, interfaith groups collaborate

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Rachel Black, assistant area director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; Will Lopes, Iowa Central Community College director of Choral Music; and Teresa Jackson, director of theater, pose on the stage where the UNIFIED worship event will held on Aug.t 20.

There’s a long list of local churches and faith groups that will be participating in the Aug. 20 UNIFIED Worship Experience at Iowa Central Community College.

During the evening, students will be able to learn about the churches and groups, enjoy a worship event with everyone and maybe find their faith home away from home.

Teresa Jackson, director of theater, Will Lopes, director of choral music and Rachel Black assistant area director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship are among the individuals who have planned the event.

“The idea came from me years ago,” Jackson said. “I’ve wanted to try this for a long time. It took Will to make it a reality.”

Part of it was her own experience as a student. There are plenty of faith groups on campuses, but sometimes they can be hard to find, she said.

Lopes had the same experience.

“When I was a student that was a need I felt,” he said.

A joint worship event is just part of it. The planners hope the students who attend will be able to find a local church to attend and be able to network with people there to become part of their faith community and the community at large.

“We want to create a partnership,” Lopes said.

The community is invited to attend. In fact, Lopes, Jackson and Black are encouraging them to.

“We hope the community comes,” Jackson said. “We hope they show their support for the college students. I love the range of ages when they’re all together. Having community support is very important. I know the college is supporting us 200 percent.”

The InterVarsity group and Chi Alpha are both active on campus and both part of the UNIFIED event. The groups help provide a space for students to share their faith as well as support.

“We hope to connect the students to the local community,” Black said. “We’re building a community on campus. We have Bible study, service projects and leadership conferences. We want to create a positive atmosphere.”

She was involved during her own college years.

“It supported me in my faith,” she said.

One of the larger goals the planners hope will emerge is connecting the students with local families.

“We’re asking for people who would be willing to be mentor families,” Jackson said. “I know the heart of people in all the churches.”

That local connection was one of the things that drew Lopes back to Fort Dodge to teach at Iowa Central.

“Fort Dodge is home for me,” he said.

The team stressed that the event isn’t an Iowa Central event. Instead, it’s sponsored by local churches rather than the school.

The UNIFIED event dovetails with the Hog Roast Cookout which is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The UNIFIED Expo is from 7 to 7:30 p.m. in the Decker Auditorium foyer. The UNIFIED Worship Event is from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium. The UNIFIED Expo continues after the worship.

The event is free and open to the public.