Fourth Year Reflection: Mariah Murray

Mariah Murray and Shelly Pellish
Mariah Murray with Study Center Director of Administration and Development Shelly Pellish

How did you first get connected to the Study Center? Describe your experience over the past four years.

I first got connected to the Study Center my second year, through exam snacks, but I can’t really say. I don’t think any one element “connected” me to the Study Center, but rather I stumbled into Christian community at UVA and therefore, at some point in time the Study Center just became a part of my life and story. I know that the Study Center started off as a place to study with free coffee and it ended up becoming a second home. Since I wandered in, I have sat in on the Study Center’s lectures, attended various ministry events like Greek InterVarsity, made friendships with the staff, and attended a reading group with Shelly Pellish. I lived in the Delta Zeta house a couple doors down on Chancellor Street my third year and essentially I spent more waking hours at the Study Center than my home. I fell into a lot of events like the Faith, Reason, and Science reading group and lectures simply because I was always there!

Looking back as a fourth year getting ready to leave the University, what has the Study Center meant to your time at UVA? How has it made a positive impact on your walk with Christ and your experience at the University?

God used the Study Center to show me what it is like to live a Christian life. I became a Christian my second year and I had an idea of the Christian life that I was trying to live. That notion came alive through the Study Center. The Study Center is a place where I grow in Christ daily because of the people around me who are leading by example. Spending so much time at the Study Center allowed me to get to know the students, residents, and staff there. Those relationships have taught me so much about God as well as what community looks like. I think God has used this community to show me what it is like to serve Christ daily and what it means to then take that knowledge out into the university and world around me.

The Study Center has also helped me to connect theology to what I am learning as a religious studies major. The Study Center allowed me to process the new religious teachings I was learning and then gave me an immediate place to practice them by serving other students. As a new Christian it was incredibly helpful in my faith to have the Study Center a few houses down the street as a place where I could go to recharge, as well as poke my head into Lane or Bill’s office anytime from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. if I happened to have a question about scripture or theology.

What is special about the Study Center that you want to communicate from your perspective as a fourth year?

The Study Center states its vision is “to foster serious consideration in the university environment of a biblical worldview” and “to facilitate wise discussion of the Truth in light of the challenges of contemporary culture.” The Study Center does that, and much more. Aside from being an amazing place to learn, discuss, and live out biblical teaching, the Study Center is a thriving meeting place for many different groups and people on Grounds. The community fostered at the Study Center gives people a broad perspective of what God is doing all over Grounds and then allows people to share that with one another and grow from it.

I keep saying community, but I do that because that is what the Study Center is! People come to study, but then fall in love more and more with the building, one another, and ultimately God. I know as a fourth year that I will not always be able to be a part of such a diverse group of people all striving to further the kingdom of heaven, but I will always be thankful for what God is doing at the Study Center and I will be thankful that I had a chance to experience a small part of it of the Study Center’s narrative.

Mariah Murray, CLAS ’14