In pairs, they walk to class together once a week, praying the entire way.
They meet regularly for communion through Bible study and meals.
These six Augustana College seniors also are focused on “servant-hood” in the community, as they live together in the new Micah House, a joint venture between the college and St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rock Island.
The house is owned by the church, which is located near the Keystone and Floreciente areas along 7th Avenue, and the program’s mission is to help students deepen their vocational understanding.
The students are the first group to live in the house, which the Rev. Stacie Fidlar said was named for the Bible verse found at Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
“This is supposed to be a step in our journey to becoming the kind of people, the kind of Christians, we want to be,” said Elise McPherson, one of the students chosen to live in the house. “It was definitely something out of my comfort zone, so I considered doing it more.”
Students applied and went through interviews before they were chosen as residents. They all are interested in deepening their faith and engaging in the community.
When St. John’s was offered the chance to buy the house, which is near the church property, Fidlar — an Augustana graduate — said she and others wanted to make sure the purchase was “part of the mission of the church in this community.”
Because the church is near Augustana, members reached out to the college about creating a service-based mission for students in the house, and the college agreed right away, Fidlar said.
So, the church bought the house in summer 2010 and began renovations. Because students secure housing far in advance, the college and church then began the application process for potential residents, even though they wouldn’t move in until this school year, Fidlar said.
The students’ majors include biology, pre-medicine, Spanish, religion, classics and psychology.
They all are serving others through long-term projects through Micah House.
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Two are leading a Bible study that includes a free meal once a week for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, and one student is working with a third-grade teacher in the area to help students with literacy problems.
Another is helping with St. John’s after-school program, which provides games, homework help and meals for children.
The remaining students are working with children and their parents to create illness narratives for families dealing with chronic illness.
The house is open to students of various faith expressions, not just Lutheran. They are encouraged to attend a religion class that focuses on prayer, community and transformation.
The residents also are assigned an adviser, Augustana volunteer and off-campus coordinator Laura Mahn, who works with them to “help them figure out how living in the house helps them figure out their own vocations,” she said.
“The goal is to live intentionally,” house resident Catherine McDermott said. “You learn how you cope with stress, how you relate to others.”