First Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth is helping Austin College in Sherman continue its creed of remaining church related. The Church recently gave the Religious Life Program at the Presbyterian school a grant for $200,000.
“Headed up by the Chaplain John Williams it (the Religious Life Program) oversees all aspects of religious life programming, including all faiths and traditions,” Austin College Volunteer Services Coordinator Nancy Morgan said. “The Service Station is a division of the college that oversees volunteerism and is one program of religious life. We are run by a student board that is elected to plan and execute service events and connect students to many different volunteer opportunities that nonprofits offer in the Texoma area.”
The money given by First Presbyterian will go toward Religious Life’s “Alternative Spring Break.”
“The church wanted to endow the college so that Spring Break trips would always be paid for,” she said. “The students do not pay to go on this trip.”
Alternative Spring Break is a week of service offered by the college to give students the opportunity to serve in an area outside of Texoma.
“Usually, these trips work with organizations that provide disaster assistance to people affected by natural disasters, such as floods, tornadoes and hurricanes,” Morgan said.
This year the alternative spring break took a group of about 35 students to work in San Marcos rebuilding homes damaged by floods.
“There was a flood near Wimberley about 18 months ago,” Austin College Chaplain and Church Relations Director John Williams said. “We always take faculty with us. There were about 3-4 faculty members there along with the students.”
Williams said community service is important at Austin College.
“One thing we always say it that doing community service is not mandatory, but if you do not want to do it, you will be saying no a lot,” he said.
The reason why it is important for Austin College to continue the spring break program, Williams said, is because thinking about others is something that Austin College encourages its students to do.
“We keep doing it because there are a variety of ways AC encourages the students to do community service,” he said. “That is the way educated people think. Educated people think about ways to improve life, to make like better for others and that is why we encourage community service.”
Williams also said that community service is also the way that Austin College exemplifies being a church-affiliated school.
“Austin College is a Presbyterian school,” he said. “There are certain things we offer to all students. We want to offer the church to everyone. Community service is important to the Presbyterian church. Through community service is how we live out being church related and being affiliated with the Presbyterian church.”