You may have noticed the white house planted between North Suites and Stegenga Hall and wondered who lives there, if not the president? The first ladies of the Koinonia House have made their home in the quaint Vanderhill Cottage.
Lindsay Hubbell, resident director of the apartments and assistant director of student activities, selected six women: seniors Elissa O’Dell and Jessica Rogers, juniors Audrey Leyen and resident assistant Brenna Rauwerdink and sophomores Alaena Trevino and Sierra Tumbleson, to live together in a community fostering growth in identity, hospitality and leadership.
“I’m excited to continue to grow in my faith with these women,” Rauwerdink said. “I can see how beautifully unique God made each of us and that He intentionally placed us together so that we can learn from each other’s different strengths.”
Northwestern hasn’t gained a sorority but a new home for fellowship, sharing, participation and contribution with the rest of campus as the word Κοινωνία (koinonia) translates to these values. According to Hubbell, the House was inspired by academic living learning communities (LLC’s) and Northwestern’s own community-orientated culture.
The Koinonia House’s mission is to prioritize the development of women into empowered and self-aware leaders who are prepared to make a significant contribution to God’s global kingdom, and the House achieves its mission through three core objectives: discussion-based curriculum, one-on-one mentorship and campus camaraderie through hospitality.
Each woman in the house is a member of a Stegenga Hall wing where they participate in wing events, including community dinners, and will select a freshman to mentor. Three of the Koinonia women are also Steg discipleship group leaders to further their connection to the underclassmen.
As the women are mentored by Hubbell through weekly house meetings involving numerous studies such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together,” they are preparing to be mentors themselves, facilitating community and growth outside the house walls.
“I incorporated the mentoring requirement to inspire meaningful interactions for more than just the six women in the program,” Hubbell said. “As an RD, I deeply value the power of the ministry of presence and meaningful, challenging conversations. My vision for the mentorship is to help the LLC women learn what it means to be continuously present and vulnerable with one another as they continuously develop their own leadership skills and styles.”
The women of the House have similar goals of intentionality, encouragement, integrity, hospitality and involvement all centered around their walk with Jesus.
“I’ve been enjoying living in community with other women who I know love the Lord with their hearts,” Rauwerdink said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing different styles of leadership come out through each of the women and just watching the way that they see the world and how they serve you best. I’ve enjoyed the willingness to go deep and be vulnerable, and I look forward to that continuing.”
The women have quickly made the House a home by interior decorating and enjoying meaningful conversations, communal activities and times of worship. They hope others will find refuge in the fostering fellowship, despite the COVID-19 limitations on maximum capacity.
“As of right now, I am excited about all the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘potentials’ this program has in store,” Hubbell said. “I’m excited for my women to connect and make memories with one another during the mundane, joyful and challenging times in life. I’m excited to laugh, question and say ‘me too’ during our discussions. And I am excited to just see how the women and I will grow this coming year. There have been so many unexpected changes due to COVID, plenty of things to grieve, but I am grateful God has given me this opportunity and I want to dive-in with this first cohort of women.”