Prayer at Purchase: Inside the "Ignored" Christian Fusion Fellowship

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In the basement of Campus Center North, the chairs in the room are moved into a circle. The lights are dimmed and the night begins with a prayer before turning on a stereo. Songs like “Sovereign Hands” and “Here I Am to Worship” play as the attendees sing along, their eyes closed. Some outstretch raised hands and sway.
 
Behind the scenes of Purchase life, the Christian Fusion Fellowship operates despite handicaps. On a counterculture-heavy campus like Purchase, Fusion is an anomaly. Francisco Donoso, a Painting and Drawing major and a senior, has been president since his second semester.
 

“Clubs provide a sense of community for students,” says Donoso. He adds that their faith calls them to assemble. He jokes, “People are propelled to join this club out of desperation.”
 
A freshman visual arts major, Kenzie Manning, says of her reasons for joining, “My spirituality has a lot to do with my art.”
 
The number of regulars varies each semester, according to Donoso, and the club is non-denominational.
 
Jerryn Ha, a media, society and the arts junior, says, “I don’t even know what [denomination] I am.”
 
The organization has been operating outside of the radar since their inception and faculty support is just a vague memory. “When Fusion started about 13 years ago, one of the leaders was a staff member, but she left after two years,” says Donoso. He adds that they’re still working on acquiring a faculty advisor.
 
The students haven’t experienced notable negative reactions from the campus community. “It’s pretty passive. People don’t really care we exist.” Donoso says. The worst he can think of is flyers they hung for the club being ripped down.
 
Despite this, there has been some controversy. Two years ago, anti-gay extremists protested on campus. “People questioned if we were involved,” said Donoso. In reaction, Fusion collaborated with GLBTU and gave a talk to assure they didn’t support the protesters.
 
GBLTU leader Kendralyn Shider says of the incident, “We collaborated with Fusion and they came to basically say that they don't support what that speaker did and that not all Christians feel hateful towards homosexuality.  It was a nice collaboration and I would collaborate with them again if they wanted to.”
 
In light of a more recent controversy, some of the members didn’t know about Tyler Clementi; the bullied homosexual student at Rutgers who recently committed suicide. “As a club, we stand beside GLBTU. It’s a human issue – he was still a child of God.”
 
 
According to Donoso, Fusion can’t fundraise for other clubs, which limits how much they can give back to the community. Most clubs use their budget for food, couches, performers, and DJs. For a club like this that wants to help others, this is a major roadblock. These red-tape rules have hindered other actions for the club as well.
 
“We can’t buy bibles. We couldn’t do that with the club budget because you need to buy enough for every student on campus.” Donoso says. They can’t order t-shirts or pay for conferences that they want to attend.
 
“It really limits what clubs do,” says Manning.
 
Donoso shrugs it off, “I’ve learned through denial and work around it.”
 
The club is tight-knit outside of their Thursday night meeting. Once a week they have separate women and men’s groups, which allow for more intimate discussion. They have dinner and movie nights, and they carpool to Sunday services.
 
The group technically begins at 9 pm in Campus Center North’s basement, but Donoso says it usually starts around a half hour later as students slowly trickle in.
 
Bible study begins after; copies are handed out but most members have their own. Donoso explains they’ve begun studying the book of John this semester and with a chuckle, he adds that it will probably take them all semester to get through.

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