Intrinsic to every person, is the need and desire to belong. As Sam E., one of our students, put it, “Belonging is important because we are social creatures, and crave interaction with others. We look for acceptance and validation from others." People long for a context in which they are included within a group, where they contribute to it as well as where the group honors them as a person. “Belonging means [you] have a sense of comfort and a shared sense of camaraderie”, says Sydney R., a 2nd year UCLA student. According to Barrie F., “Belonging means that you are a need to others, and your companionship is wanted; it provides a sense of inclusiveness,” and as Maddie F. points out, “You are missed when you are absent”.
College is an environment that is both a blessing and a challenge to this drive for belonging. For most undergraduate students, this is the first time they are living apart from their families, in which they experienced belonging at its fullest. For others, college is a opportunity and time to truly experience belonging as they never have before. Either way, it is important “to be welcomed into a community, beyond the student aspect, understanding each other, and making sure everyone is doing well, both academically and as a person” says Mariana V. Beyond a doubt, as students set foot onto college campuses nationwide, one of the biggest components they are looking for is somewhere to belong.
At UCLA, students step onto one of the most populous campuses in the US. With well over 40,000 undergraduate students, each individual exists within a sea of people, and experience being lost in the crowd. With diversity being a large commitment of the administration, students are encountering others from not only different family backgrounds, but cultures as well. Megan L. recognizes that “It’s important to find and have an identity and truth that is outside ourselves. We gain different perspectives on realities that are not just ours.” Different worldviews. Different values. And the list goes on…
ULC is located right across from campus and amidst frat row, by the grace of God. The mission of the chapel is to be a home to discover and experience belonging in Christ. We recognize the very human need to belong, but also firmly believe that belonging is found at its full beauty in Christ. Jonathan C. highlights the importance of common ground in feeling like you belong, noting there are "qualities unique to your group that everyone shares. There is a glue that holds us all together." Jesus is the strongest glue there is. We are committed to welcoming students, loving them, and supporting them in their college careers in the name of Jesus, who welcomes all people with great diversity into His family, loves all and died for all, and promises to support all through the power of the Holy Spirit. Whether it is grabbing coffee with students or sharing a meal at family dinners at the chapel, Christ is what binds us together. It’s a space where each individual is needed and wanted by Jesus himself, and therefore by all of us at ULC. We invite you to pray for us and with us as we carry out this important mission!