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In February, the Christian Union hosted our annual Events Week. We have run a week of talks and discussions on faith for several years. As the events have grown each year, we have been able to expand the week into a marquee in Founders South Quad.
This was a huge benefit as we could increase the events’ visibility and create a warm welcoming atmosphere for students. We aim to provide an open place for all students to hear a talk about Christianity and allow space to ask any questions in response.
This year’s theme was ‘Freedom’ as we explored what it means to be free. We held lunch-bar talks that focused on prevalent challenges to Christian faith, such as ‘Free to Be: where do I fit in?’ and ‘You’re Fake News: does freedom of speech matter?’ These included free pizza and a Q&A session afterwards.
Our evening event talks were aimed at students particularly interested in exploring Christianity for themselves and the offer of ‘Free Hope’, ‘Free Love’, and ‘Free Life’. We hosted a quiz one evening and had live acoustic music for the others. Two local church leaders, Tim Garrett (Holy Trinity, Twickenham) and Pete Matthews (Windsor Fellowship), were invited to deliver the talks. All the week’s talks were well attended, and we managed to run out of our 100 slices of pizza most days!
As well as talks, we also put on a production of the ‘Mark Drama’. This is a 90-minute performance of the Gospel of Mark and tells the entire life of Jesus. The production is performed internationally, and we were grateful to have a professional director lead our amateur cast of CU members through the play.
The two performances, Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon, saw huge audiences; we ran out of seating for the 90+ students at the first performance! We received a lot of feedback praising the educational use of the production, particularly for History and Arts degrees.
One huge success of the event was our fundraising. The week is entirely funded by donations and every year we are keen to raise our targets. This year, our target was £4500 and, through generous donations from churches and past/present CU members, we succeeded our target by an extra £1300!
The main achievement has been the following outcome of the events. There are over 10 students now meeting up with CU members to read the Bible and explore Christianity further, and many more have expressed interest. We have also since seen an increase in attendance at our weekly CU meetings.
The entire event could have been a total disaster due to the sudden snow and other unforeseen circumstances. However, we are thrilled with how the event went and are excited to see how we can continue to improve it in future years.
The CU committee wish to express our thanks to all our members who worked incredibly hard to pull off the week, from running the tech systems to handing out flyers every day in the freezing cold! We are also grateful to local churches for the kind donations, Founders Catering for our hot drinks, and the Students Union for the pizzas.
Finally, the week would not have been possible without the brilliant help of Beth Davies in the SU. Her support and advice brought the week together, and we are so thankful!
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX