This fall, female students had an opportunity to grow in their leadership skills and in community with each other as they lived at the Koinonia House, named for the Greek word meaning Christian fellowship. Six women lived, learned and grew with each other as they spent time bonding through their unity in Christ.
While the Koinonia House was founded with the intention of training campus ladies in their leadership skills, this semester the women have focused first on themselves and their own identities to equip them to become the best leaders they can be.
Each week the women meet together for leadership training, and Lindsay Hubbell, resident director of campus apartments who functions as an advisor for the house, helps encourage discussion between the women.
“So far this year, the women have discussed topics like the importance of community and unity, vulnerability and shame, confession and body image and sexuality,” Hubbell said.
The women have also focused on a spiritual discipline each month, so far diving into prayer and fasting. Twice a week, the women of the house meet with Hubbell one-on-one to further discuss their devotions. Next semester, the girls will focus more on the leadership side of their training.
Part of this training comes in the form of events, and while COVID-19 has prevented the women from having as many events as they’d like, they’ve had plenty of opportunities for fellowship with one another.
The first formal event of the house was their hamburger cookout and first family supper on the patio by North Suites. Throughout the year, the women have continued to eat with one another on Sunday nights, which allows them to be together as a family.
The biggest event of the house involved traveling to Okoboji for three nights over fall break. Koinonia House resident assistant Brenna Rauwerdink said that this time together was a “turning point” in her relationships with the other women in the house.
“Of course, I already knew they were all incredible women, but we hadn’t quite opened up to the point where we could be our real and raw selves,” Rauwerdink said. “I’ve gained a deeper love for each of them.”
While the ladies have had many wonderful events with each other, they look forward to opening their home to the rest of campus once COVID-19 cases slow down. In the future, the ladies hope to host events relating to education, socialization and spirituality as a way of encouraging students through their time at Northwestern.
Hospitality is one of the house’s core values.
“If things with COVID-19 get better next semester, we would love to invite more people in and possibly host some events,” member Sierra Tumbleson said.
Even with restrictions on large group gatherings, the girls have reached out and been hospitable toward campus through exercising their leadership skills. Each member of the home has been tasked with mentoring a freshman girl on campus.
While the mentorships are just beginning, member Jessica Rogers said, “I am looking forward to getting to know my mentee better and walking alongside her. Freshmen year is a roller coaster, and I just want to be a person that makes my mentee feel safe, known and encouraged at Northwestern.”
Ultimately for the women in the Koinonia House, it seems the biggest area of growth this semester has been their love for each other.
“I feel at home,” Rauwerdink said. “These women are my family.”
“Honestly, it’s been the best living experience I have ever been a part of,” she said. “My favorite part of the day is coming home and seeing them.”
In the next semester and years to come, the Koinonia House hopes to become a light toward the NW community, ushering in encouragement and hospitality toward all.