With its diverse community of supportive and passionate students, Oxford is home to many religious groups. Here are just a few of the different religious groups which you could get involved with at the university.
The Christian Union exists because we think that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is something every student in our university should have the chance to consider. Jesus made some massive claims - ‘I have come that they might have life and have it to the full’? So we try to run things (like ‘text-a-toasties’* and talks with free lunches) to give students in our hectic Oxford terms the chance to step back, think, and work through massive life questions.
Being part of the CU, I’ve met followers of Jesus with so many different backgrounds. It’s been great fun to live alongside these welcoming and very genuine people, who have made so many of the mistakes that I regularly make. We split into college groups, which meet to pray for and organise things in college, and we meet as the wider OICCU to encourage each other and to run big events like the Oxford carol services. These take place in the Sheldonian and are a real highlight! Look out –there’ll probably be mince pies and mulled wine served in college first…
*text in a question, get a toastie delivered to your door
The Oxford Islamic Society (Isoc) provides a social and religious community for Muslim Students in Oxford. We organise freshers’ events, weekly socials, football matches, Friday prayers, Charity fundraisers as well as lectures by world-renowned speakers. During Ramadan, students get together for meals arranged by the Isoc and the prayer room serves as a community space and a focal point for many students. My first experience with the Isoc was during Freshers’ Week. I have a vivid memory of turning up at the Muslim Prayer room and finding out that I had inadvertently trespassed into a committee meeting. The committee members were ever so friendly and since then I have been involved in the committee itself, organising events and socials. My best experience with the society is definitely fresher's dinner. This is a highlight of Michaelmas term with great food and a chance to catch up with old friends and welcome new ones to Oxford.
I’m the current President of HUMSoc, and I found out about it from members of the previous committee. Being Hindu myself, I was keen to get involved in something that reminded me of home: the community is small, but incredibly friendly. Applying was definitely the best decision I made!
Hinduism is considered to be a lifestyle and a culture as well as a religion, which is what makes HUMSoc such a fun, relaxed society to be involved with. We run two major cultural events - OxHoli (the festival of colours: featuring three hours of music, water guns, coloured powder and general amazingness) in Trinity, and Diwali Ball (an Oxford ball with a cultural twist – Indian food, dancing, henna, entertainment, the works) in Michaelmas. All proceeds go to charity. On the more religious side of things, we run a weekly aarti (prayer service) at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies every Wednesday, which includes half an hour of bhajans (devotional songs) as well as a short discussion on Hindu attitudes to current affairs. This is not only for people that identify as Hindu, but also for anybody that wants to find out more about Hinduism/wants to take some time out during term. We also run small socials (Bollywood movie nights, for example) throughout the term, dependant on popular demand.
This is going to sound really cheesy, but the best thing to come out of my time with HUM is the friends I’ve made! I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with some amazing people, and although event planning can be stressful at times, members of the HUM committee and the wider community are absolutely incredible and always supportive.
Hi! I’m Yoni and I am the president of the Jewish Society (JSoc) for Michaelmas 2015. I’m in my second year studying Maths and Philosophy at Pembroke. The Jewish Society is here to enable students to live out their Judaism in Oxford and to engage those who are not Jewish in understanding a bit about what Judaism is. We have weekly Friday night dinners and Saturday lunches, including the traditional chicken soup and chicken, made by the wonderful cooks. Alongside these meals there are kosher meals available every weekday, as well as regular social and educational events, which include Jewbilation and Lunch and Learns (and often also include food!). One of the highlights of my first year in Oxford was the amazing JSoc Alternative Ball held in Trinity at Freud’s. The atmosphere was incredible! It had a brilliant blend between an Oxford Ball and a typical Bar/Bat Mitzvah! However you see your Judaism, it has a place at Oxford JSoc.
Before I arrived at uni, I googled the churches in Oxford, and listened to a couple of St Ebbe’s podcasts online. I liked what I heard, so went along to check it out. Everyone was so welcoming, and I found the service really helpful, so I carried on going and became a regular – also the free lunch after the 11.45am service didn’t hurt!
St Ebbe’s does all sorts. There are 4 different services to choose from each Sunday (the 11.45am is most popular among students – not too early after a night out, and free croissants and cookies are often provided before the service begins!) and loads of chances to meet up during the week. There’s iFocus – the bible study group for international students - on Monday evenings, and Focus on Thursday lunchtimes and evenings. You can pick which time is most convenient for you, and go along to get to know people better as you eat, study the bible, pray, and hang out together. St Ebbe’s is a big church, so iFocus and Focus are a great way to get to find out more about everyone. There are also other events, like the Ledbury weekend away, which happen less frequently but are also a fantastic way to create and develop relationships with other undergrads at St Ebbe’s.