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East students tie their faith into school community

Chapel Hill’s population is about 44 percent religious, according to Sperling’s Best Places.  Likewise, religious East students find ways to tie their faith into their community at school.  The largest religion at East is Christianity.  The three clubs at East that are based in religion are affiliated with Christianity and each relate to different aspects of the religion.

Young Life is a non-denominational Christian youth ministry that became active at East in fall 2011.  Young Life’s East branch, now led by UNC-Chapel Hill senior Jordan Abourjilie, meets out of school for a combination of social fun and faith-based life lessons.  Team leaders such as Abourjilie seek to be a positive influence in teenagers’ lives.

“We want to just have relationships with kids that set a positive influence…not flaky or based off of how well you’re doing in school.  They’re just relationships because we care about one another,” Abourjilie said.

Freshman Liz McEntee joined Young Life this year.

“When I was in seventh grade, one of my friends invited me to Wyldlife, which is basically the middle school version of Young Life,” McEntee said.  “Coming into high school, I knew that I wanted to join Young Life because I had had so much fun at Wyldlife, so I joined and I still love it just as much.”

McEntee, a Christian, values the connection between her school and her faith.

“It gives you a fun place to hang out with people you may or may not talk to every day as well as a group of people who share one major thing in common with you:  you’re all Christian and have similar beliefs and values,” McEntee said.  “I like the religious aspect of Young Life because it teaches me not only about faith but about life and how life and faith relate to each other in ways that are both meaningful and effective.”

Threefold Cord, also known as ECHHS Bible Talk, is a Bible-study club led by seniors Zhen Hu, Gayane Baziyants, Kendall Thomason and Yuyi Li.  The name comes from a line in Ecclesiastes that one’s faith is stronger in a community of people than on one’s own.

“It is…nice to have fellowship, community and support in the middle of a stressful week,” said Li.  “My relationship with Christ is who I am and I strive to reflect this relationship not only in school but also in every aspect of my life.”

Although the members of the club are mostly Christian, this club is for anyone who wants to study the text that also shares stories and history with Judaism and Islam.

C3, short for Cross-Culture on Campus, is a Christian club led by seniors Isai Garcia and Cole Fesel, junior Anthony Burns and Adam Dawson, a youth pastor at Grace Church.

“We generally get together, eat some snacks and have a conversation about God and how He plays a part in our lives,” Fesel said.  “I feel it’s a good way to exercise my faith at school with peers who believe in the same thing I do… I feel that my club helps to bring the social into the religion at school.”

In addition to providing a community for Christians at East, C3 does what they call AOK days — events that are “acts of kindness.”

“We might give out free hot chocolate, do free tutoring, or give out free pizza to help encourage people who are interested in our group to join,” Fesel said.

Although AOK days have the intended purpose of increasing club attendance like brownies at Club Week, C3 is not limited to recruitment.

“We try our best to make everyone feel welcome, even if you are not of the Christian faith,” Fesel said.

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