By: Gabriel Brotzman (Volume II, Issue I)
The Branch Christian Fellowship is in its fifth year as an official Student organization at Brown University. A local chapter of Chi Alpha Christian Ministries, the Branch is a student organization of approximately 40-50 individuals from a number of Christian faith backgrounds and denominations. John Michaelson and Adam Koelsch are the acting campus pastors for the Branch and have more than 20 combined years of campus ministry experience.
The Branch has a number of components through which students can become more involved. Large Group meetings are every Friday night and consist of worship and singing followed by a message delivered by the pastors. These meetings are bookended with times of fellowship and socializing to catch up with friends after a hard week of work or to meet new faces.
Throughout the week students get together in Core Groups to study scripture, read insightful literature, and discuss living as a Christian at Brown in the comfort of a small group. These groups are truly intended to be a core component of the ministry. In Core Groups, students get a chance to dive deeper into topics and discussions that meet them at their point of growth while, at the same time, allowing each student a better understanding of scripture and spiritual concepts.
Finally, the Branch is a group seeking to be a presence on Brown’s campus through outreach and service. Students and staff set up tables on the main green every week to hand out free hot chocolate, lemonade, or hot apple cider to students along with a spiritual “question of the day.” Students in the Branch have also headed up a number of initiatives including packing bag lunches for the homeless on Thayer Street, filling shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child, and volunteering at Providence homeless shelters and soup kitchens. The Branch has also dedicated itself to consistent prayer for Brown students, faculty, and staff and organizing inter-fellowship campus prayer events throughout the year.
The Branch as a community and a fellowship places its emphasis on connection—connection with each other and, more importantly, connection with God. The name of the group, the Branch, comes from a passage in John 15: 5 when Jesus told his disciples “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Likewise, the members of the Branch seek connection with God in order to live fully with Him and with one another.