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01Nov 17

Letters from Prison

Chris Sundahl is a graduate student at UW Madison. He shared this story at Sunday Worship on October 29th during a sermon series, "Questions On Our Mind: Where does it hurt?" When I arrived in Madison in 2013, I did a bit of church-shopping. At one of those churches, I picked up a couple of friends that I wanted to talk about today. This church ran a snail-mail-based Bible study course with prisoners, and a few of them had included notes in their correspondence that they’d like a penpal to talk about their faith and the Bible with, and also help them through the times they were having. Being young and invincible and extremely eager to talk about my faith (since I was new to Christianity), I thought it was a good idea to take BOTH of these letters, and start writing to them, on top of all the coursework…

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19Oct 17

10 Pieces of Alumni Advice for Madison Students

We recently asked Pres House Alumni what they wished that had known when they were starting out as students at UW-Madison. They had some great alumni advice to share in 10 areas! Here is what they said: On Grades Zuf W: Unless your goal is med school, law school, or an eventual PhD, bad grades won't jeopardize your future success at all. I mean, good grade still matters (it certainly helps open doors when you don't have much else to show) and hard work is always required, just don't stress over a bad grade like the end of the world. Sometimes if not always, a well executed project through an org carries as much if not more weight than an A in a class. Comparatively, many people get A's, not many projects succeed. I've had many friends who aren't stellar students grade wise but have some fantastic experience and wealth…

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17Oct 17

What if I Fail?

Savannah Kenny graduated from UW Madison this past spring and is now a young professional working in Middleton. She shared her story at Sunday Worship on October 15th, 2017 during a sermon series, "Questions on Our Mind: What if I fail?"  My most recent faith journey began during a conversation with my parents after my freshman year of college. Somehow in that conversation they told me they both believed in God.  I don't know why I was so surprised. We had grown up in Catholic church, gone to church camps, but because I wasn't sure what to make of God I interpreted their silence on outright statements of faith as them not being sure as well. Growing up I took bible stories as stories. Lessons to make you a good person. But that conversation with my parents started me thinking about what it meant to actually believe in God and why…

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10Oct 17

Rewriting My Legacy

Samuel Acuña is pursuing his PhD in Mechanical Engineering; he shared his story at Worship on October 8, 2017 for a series, "Questions on Our Minds." On this Sunday, the question was, "How do I make the most of my life?" You can also listen to Samuel share his story after the sermon. Hello everyone, my name is Samuel Acuña. I wanted to talk to you all about why I am here in graduate school. Currently, I am working on my 5th year, getting a PhD in mechanical engineering. My specialty is biomechanics—taking the tools of a mechanical engineer to examine & fix how the human body moves. I build machines that help people, the latest being a vibrating ankle device for older adults to help prevent them from falling. I really love what I do. But I didn’t always do this. I am originally from Seattle, WA. One of…

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08Oct 17

Being Christian in Public

What does it look like to follow Jesus in public? Excerpts from Rev. Erica Liu's sermon, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" (Matthew 16:13-20) given on August 27th, 2017. If we want to follow Jesus the Messiah, then we have to recognize that his entrance into the world was about challenging the systemic brutality and oppression of an empire that trod on the weak, marginalized, and powerless...It necessarily means that we must address the way white supremacy has become normalized by our governmental leaders and also in many of the institutions we are a part of; we cannot look at how the threat of violence, imprisonment, and the stripping of rights is regularly used as a tool by those in power primarily against brown and black people and not be reminded of first century Jewish peasants living under the rule of Rome; and we must recognize that the Christian leaders…

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05Oct 17

Free to put down our guns

When I opened the news on Monday morning October 2nd, 2017 I was faced with the horrific description of innocent music lovers gunned down from above in Las Vegas. Like many, I turned to prayer for the victims and their families. But every time a mass shooting happens I have less and less patience for “thoughts and prayers.” Action is needed. Because there is one key factor that is always present when these mass shootings happen – in Oak Creek, Virginia Tech, Las Vegas or any of the other 78 places where mass shootings have occurred in the past 30 years – they all involve guns. Many have said that we shouldn’t use incidents like these recent shootings to raise controversial topics like gun control – that it is too manipulative or self-serving of a particular political agenda. That we should simply pray for and support the people who experienced…

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25Sep 17

Growing Away, Growing Home

Erik Franze is a sophomore with plans to study Political Science, Spanish, American Indian Studies, and Environmental Studies. When I arrived on campus last fall as a freshman, I began searching for a community in Madison that would allow me to simultaneously branch out and fit in. I come from a suburb of Milwaukee that is not too far away from here, so I was seeking a place that would allow me to grow away, and to some degree detach myself from the many fellow students from my high school that had also decided to come to UW Madison. I also wanted to find a solid faith community to make a part of my life, since my small and tight-knit home church in Waukesha had been integral to my youth. This seemed like a tall and even hypocritical order at the time, and I was not particularly hopeful. However, I…

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21Sep 17

Things We’re Not Supposed to Talk About

Jenni Geurink is a Senior at UW Madsion, majoring in Political Science and Gender & Women's Studies. I’ve always liked talking about the “things you weren’t supposed to talk about,” namely politics and religion.  I grew up in a devout Presbyterian home and as I got older, I really found a passion for politics, but these were always in two very separate, parallel tracks.  In my church you didn’t talk about politics, and in political circles, especially Democratic ones, faith was a really taboo subject.  So it wasn’t until college that these two passions of mine really started to merge. When I stumbled upon the Pres House community, our country was, and still is, working through serious racial injustice.  But unlike other faith communities I’ve been a part of, we talked about it.  We talked about what was going on in everyday life, the good and the bad, in the…

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