A new religious student organization on campus is trying to make a lasting impact on students’ lives.
Equip Campus Ministries, a nondenominational organization supported by Grace Baptist Church in Vermillion, is beginning its second year of ministry at USD. The group’s weekly meetings consist of worship, games, biblical teaching, small group discussion and fellowship.
The mission statement of Equip Campus Ministries is “to equip students to humbly proclaim, explain and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Ashley German, a first-year kinesiology and exercise science major, said she’s excited to become involved with the organization.
“I’m excited to experience the same passion and joy with the rest of Equip through prayer, songs and soulful speaking,”
Tori Tobin, a first-year Spanish and business communications major, said she is looking forward to having a stress-free outlet for her faith.
“My favorite thing about Equip is that we’re all able to come together at the end of a stressful day and praise his holy name,” Tobin said.
A different emphasis
Brandon Pedersen, the collegiate pastor of Grace Baptist and the USD Equip director, started the organization as an SDSU student in 2004. After seeing how USD has few religious groups to choose from, he brought the Equip ministry to campus last year.
“The main message, of course, is for the students to have a chance to hear the real gospel.” Pedersen said. “God is the one who will bring us the greatest joy and happiness. Christianity sometimes seems like a really drab and boring thing, and it’s not. You’re actually choosing the thing that will bring you the most happiness.”
Cru, another religious group on campus, focuses on different teaching points, Pedersen said.
“Week to week, we do a lot of the same things, but we might also emphasize different things,” he said. “For us, we really emphasize discipleship and local church connection. Our goal would be that every student have a mentor, someone who is pouring into them very deeply”
Pedersen said Cru and Equip may collaborate on events throughout the year, but nothing is official yet.
A deeper meaning
Equip prides itself as being a “deep ministry,” Pedersen said.
“Deep translates to mean a deep relationship with God and a deep understanding of his word — things that actually give life,” he said. “We hope to dig into theology and who God is.”
Equip will also assist students with other struggles in their lives. The organization will offer an anxiety support group this fall and a depression support group in the spring.
“You leave your family, you leave what you’re used to, you find out college is a lot harder than high school… we just want to be able to help students deal with that,” Pedersen said.
Equip is also planning an “Atheist, Agnostic and Christian” event where the three belief groups can have a place for conversation.
Pedersen, a former atheist himself, said the program is necessary.
“We can be friends with people that radically disagree with us,” he said. “We like to model that we can leave at the end of the day and completely and absolutely disagree with someone, but still love them anyways.”
Pedersen said it’s good for students to have a club devoted to faith, because student have different struggles and needs.
“Sometimes one can do better at serving a student than the other,” Pedersen said. “We want to walk with each student as an individual and help them with their specific struggles.”