I am sure it comes as no surprise that faith plays a pretty significant role in my life. I am the campus minister, after all. I was raised in a Christian family and was involved in church for my whole life, but it was actually when I enrolled as a student at Southwestern, I truly began to learn what it meant to be a person of faith. I knew a great deal about making “Christian” choices, and even a lot about the bible. And I had had a good many experiences relating to my faith, but when I came to college and realized my faith was my faith, not that of my parents, I truly learned what it meant to be a believer and follower of Christ.
I remember the first Sunday that I was here in Winfield—I had worked (and played) hard at Freshman Work Day the day prior and I was tired. I set my alarm to go to church with some new friends, but when that alarm went off, I wasn’t sure I wanted to roll out of bed. But I did. Even during those first days of college, I had an awareness that my time in college could be an opportunity to truly explore what I thought and not just accept the beliefs of my parents or my church.
The choices I made way back many years ago led me to become involved in campus ministry, a local church, and engage in personal spiritual practices. I came here to receive a great education and major in biology (which I did), but while I was here, I discovered God was calling me to step out in faith and serve in full-time ministry. No one was more shocked than I was to hear that call, especially when it would bring me back here to Southwestern, to serve as campus minister.
My faith was shaped here as I learned to study the bible, worship with others in chapel, explore ideas that were unfamiliar and truly examine what I believed about things.
I’ve learned important “faith” lessons in the years since. I’ve learned that my doubts have taught me more about faith than anything else, the process of becoming a faithful person means one will encounter both pain and joy, and I will not always know what step to take next. But learning to become a person of faith means I can have confidence that God is giving me the grace to take another step of faith today and again tomorrow.
Rev. Ashlee Alley is the director of campus ministry.
I am, in general, an optimistic person, and my faith is a key source of inspiration for my positive outlook on life and understanding of the times we’re living in.
To be of service to humanity is a primary tenet of the Bahá’í Faith, and I try to view my work and family life through this lens.
Stacy Townsley is the registrar.