As I sat on the plane, watching cloud-covered mountains pass by, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was getting myself into. I was an 18-year-old recent high school grad, leaving home for a seemingly indefinite amount of time as I traveled to Duke for begin a new phase of my life. I was currently freaking out about how to make friends, how to pass my classes, and exactly what a Marketplace swipe was. How was I to know that before long, I would be friends with the barista in Perkins, I would get coffee with my professors, and I would get free dinners every Sunday night with PCM+.
Unbeknownst to me, there was already someone hard at work to help make Duke feel like home. Earlier in the summer, my parents had received a letter from Katie Owen (now Aumann), the Presbyterian Campus Minister at Duke. Although my parents were ecstatic that they had surely found the perfect religious group for me, I wanted to be free to explore all of my options on campus. At the religious life fair, I introduced myself to Katie, but also went around to several different tables, picking up information packets and getting promised rides to church left and right.
Two months and an abundance of free food later, I was thoroughly confused. Each group I tried out had something distinct to offer, and I enjoyed spending time with each. However, I knew my social calendar couldn’t take much more indecision on my part. At some point, I needed to make a decision about what I wanted out of my faith journey at Duke, and who I wanted to walk in that journey with. Hence, I decided to meet for coffee with each of the religious leaders I had met, and finally resolve my internal struggle. Each had their own spiel about why their group was the best fit for me, which only clouded my judgment further.
However, when I met with Katie for a locopop on a hot Thursday afternoon, I could see God’s hand pointing me in the right direction. Katie wasn’t afraid to be honest with me about my options. She didn’t pressure me to pick PCM+, but spoke candidly about the positive aspects of each religious group I was considering. I felt as though she genuinely cared about my spiritual well being, regardless of where it was coming from. I could feel God’s spirit alive and well in Katie, and her infectious laughter put me at ease. After our conversation and fall retreat weekend in Montreat, I knew I had found my new home.
And now, two years later, calling PCM home would be an understatement. PCM quickly became my support system on campus, filled with my favorite people who are always down to take study breaks, hug a fellow Presbyterian, and eat lots and lots of chocolate. Although I live on central campus, I spend more time in the chapel basement than I do in my own apartment. Our group is so much more than a group of people who worship together. We have become a close-knit, yet always inviting, eclectic group of students whom I feel so blessed to call my best friends.