In the middle of exams, assignments, workouts at the gym, friends, and the job; it can seem impossible to get a break. But this is where the church comes into the picture, argues Søren Kjær Bruun, university pastor at Frederiksberg Campus.
To be more specific, it is Sct. Thomas Church at Frederiksberg.
From the 1st of January, 2017, this church became the students’ church helping all of the students from CBS, University of Copenhagen’s two departments, Science and Life, Metropol, and The Royal Danish Academy of Music. And one of the two university pastors, Søren Kjær Bruun, hopes that the students will use the church as a place to get a break.
“The church is a place where you can take a break from the never-ending race requiring excellent performance. Here, you don’t have to perform, you can just be yourself. No one expects anything of you here,” he says.
Søren Kjær Bruun, together with Charlotte Cappi Grunnet, are two university pastors connected to the Frederiksberg Campus. At CBS, they have their office at Porcelænshaven, where they have conversations with the students. But at the church, they host various events including concerts, morning runs, and philosophical discussions about hate, love, freedom and free will, just to name a few.
Whether you believe in God or not, is not of importance. The church is a place for everyone, explains Søren Kjær Bruun, who argues that what matters is that people meet one another and come to see that they are not alone.
“Many students may have an idea that they are on their own when facing issues related to one’s studies, loneliness, stress, or whatever else that is bothering them. But they are not. We are often in it together. I think what the church can do in these situations is to have a shining ray of light during times of darkness. We can gather people and create a community in which it’s okay to talk about such things,” he says and adds:
“If people gather, we can share our experiences and then some students will see that we aren’t super-humans, not any of us. But this only becomes clear when we meet and talk.”
A break from the performance inducing culture
The students at Frederiksberg Campus have had a church to turn to before. Two, in fact. Sct. Lucas Church and Sct. Thomas Church. But now, the decision to gather all of the student activities at Sct. Thomas Church has been made. And this makes everything much easier, says Søren Kjær Bruun.
“Now, the students know for sure that this is their church, and this is a place that they can turn to, as Charlotte and I will be here. Of course, they can go to other churches too, but this is a place where we will host all of the student related events,” he says.
The events are very diverse. This Wednesday, the university pastors are hosting an event called: Christmas with the Danes. Here, international students get an idea of how Danes celebrate Christmas. They will have the chance to bake Christmas cookies such as brunkager and vaniljekranse and to sing Christmas carols.
Next year, Søren Kjær Bruun is planning to host a study group which will focus on the works of Søren Kierkegaard.
When asked about why they cannot host the events where the students are, at CBS for instance, he says:
“We could, of course, host all of the events at the different campuses, and we do host some of the events there. But by doing it in the church, people get to step out of their study environment, which – for some – is connected with a little bit of stress and the need to perform. In this case, it’s important to show the students that the church is a place where you can get a break from all that,” he says.