Why Crown Students Volunteer Over 8,000 Hours in the Community Every Year

By Maddie Rennpferd

When Candi Veer and her fiance Spencer Rekedal volunteered at a church a few months ago, they had no idea the impact they would have.

As Crown students fulfilling unpaid Service Credits as part of their graduation requirements, the couple became youth group leaders at Eagan Hills Church. They led small groups with teens and grew from the experience.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to serve as a youth leader because the boys in my group challenged me to grow in a lot of areas through asking hard questions and bringing up difficult discussions, which really pushed me to dig into what the Bible says regarding the things that are going on in our world today,” says Spencer.

Being a youth leader is just one example of how students can earn their Service Credits, meant to impact the community around campus.

Over the 2017-2018 school year, Crown students volunteered for 8,680 hours at 310 different locations, teaching English to refugees, helping at local youth groups, doing setup and teardown at church plants, and assisting with local worship bands. A distinctive of the program is that students cannot be paid for their service.

This is a major differentiator for Crown because not every Christian college requires this service commitment. It matches up nicely with the mission statement of Crown (“called to serve, prepared to lead”) in a way that is measurable and specific.

“For one of my Service Credits, I helped out at a daddy-daughter dance,” says Emily Archer, a junior majoring in Elementary Education. “Being able to serve the community and bring glory to God at the same time is really humbling to me. Building relationships and making those personal connections has really impacted me in an extremely positive way that I will continue to be grateful for, for the rest of my life.”

“This is an opportunity for our students to penetrate our community with the Gospel, to be the salt and light in our world as the Bible calls us to,” adds Dr. Bill Kuhn, the Campus Chaplain and Vice President of Student Development.

Students are required to do four Service Credits before graduation, totaling 80 hours of volunteer work. This gives students exposure to a wide variety of serving opportunities. Additionally, one of those Service Credits is associated with the student’s chosen major, to give the student practical experience in their field.

“It’s all about relationships,” says Kelly Ripley, the Administrative Assistant to the Chaplain. “Our students can meet new people through these opportunities. That relationship becomes a way for them to share their faith with others. The relationship is the purpose. When you have the opportunity to pour into someone else’s life, it’s because you have taken the time to get to know them.”

“Crown has always been an extension of the church,” adds Dr. Kuhn. “We are at our best when we parallel ourselves with the mission of the Church.”

The Service Credits help students develop a lifelong habit of being involved in community as well as serving others.

“Although these credits are required in order to graduate, it’s not just something we implement to get students involved in the community,” says Ripley. “These experiences are résumé-builders and can help you in finding a job after graduation, and that is something we are very proud of.”

Service credits can help students build a network, gain experience in their field of interest, and identify their gifts and talents.

Crown holds an annual Community Connection Day, where churches, ministries and organizations in the area recruit students to volunteer in their programs. Some of these organizations include Oakwood Community Church, Hope Rides, and Ironwood Spring Christian Ranch, to name a few. Crown offers many resources to help students find the volunteer opportunities that they want.

“We want to equip our students to live a Christ centered life,” says Dr. Kuhn. “With our students having a servant heart, it allows us to spread the love of Jesus and opens up conversations with our neighbors, which builds strong foundations for future relationships.”

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