At 9:15 p.m. on Thursday night in the Student Union, a club meeting is about to start. People wave at friends they haven’t seen in a while, girls cluster together and talk, boys fist-bump each other as they walk in and chairs are brought in to accommodate a large crowd.
Haiden Ratner is a junior Religious Studies major and the founder of this group, and he walks around mingling with the people, getting ready for meeting. Then he sits down in his chair and the room gets quiet. The meeting is about to start.
But it isn’t just any meeting. This group of students, alumni and other Erie residents gather for Mercyhurst’s Bible Study group.
Haiden is pleased with the new faces that have come, as well as the returning members.
“It is vitally important to our relationship with the Lord to know who God is,” he said to start the meeting. “To know who the God of the Bible is, you gotta know a little about his word.”
Forty-seven people were in attendance that night, and all of them introduced themselves and their reasons for coming. It was standing room only by the time the last stragglers trickled in. There were science majors and English majors and all other occupations and disciplines in between, but they all had come for one thing – to learn what they could about scriptures, not from notes and lectures and quizzes and tests, but from discourse with their peers.
“It’s like a little community we have here, a little family,” Ratner said. “We try to step out of the busy school day and make time for God.”
Many people find out about the Bible Study group through friends, and a few have been with Haiden from the beginning. Lawrence ‘LB’ Bright is a junior finance major, and he remembered when the group first started. “It got too big for his living room, so we moved here [to the Student Union), and now we’re too big for here,” Bright said.
Janel Craig is a junior in the forensic science department, who heard about it through a friend. “It helps me to be a better Christian, and on Thursday nights I’m not getting into trouble. I’m learning about the Word,” he said.
Elizabeth Mordenga, Kylie McCormick, Tess Sinke, and Chelsea Morris are all freshmen who said they like to have a day in the week where they can just talk and hang out with friends. Jessica Stachelrodt, a freshman English and dance major, summed it up for the group: “You can’t just run around campus yelling, ‘Are you Christian? Please hang out with me!’ People would run away. This way it provides fellowship for all of us.”