Religion at Iowa State: Areopagus


Areopagus offers events and resources for undergraduate, graduate and international students at Iowa State.

Claire Hoppe

Areopagus, a campus ministry at Iowa State, may be small compared to others, but its community is tight.

According to Tara Tilstra, a transfer graduate student in architecture, the close community she gained through Areopagus made the transition to Iowa State much easier.

“It’s been a very important part of my Iowa State experience,” Tilstra said. “Connecting with people has been really great, too, especially as somebody that came into Iowa State from a totally different school.”

Tyler Helfers, the director of Areopagus, said the ministry is based on the inspiration of the Bible, its messages and the unfolding story of creation, fall, redemption and renewal of Jesus Christ.

“…We believe in the hope, the reconciliation and the peace that come through Jesus, that have, I think […] something unique to offer to not only the university, but to our broader community in the world as well,” Helfers said.

Helfers said not only are the ministry’s mission statement and ideals Biblically-based, but the name of the ministry is as well. Areopagus is named after the city in which Paul, the apostle, met with the leaders of Athens to discuss important issues in Acts 17. Helfers said he hopes Areopagus can provide a space for open discussion about important topics that everyone is welcome to engage in.

Helfers said Areopagus operates similarly to how a stool operates, with three different legs. According to him, undergraduate students, staff and faculty represent the three legs.

For undergraduate students, this takes the form of weekly Bible discussions at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays at Carver Hall 124.

“We want it to be a space where people feel welcome and able to come and ask questions and to have discussion,” Helfers said. “We also hope it’s a space where people who would identify as Christians can learn from each other and grow in their, sort of, maturity in their faith, and begin to see the ways that it connects with their life as a student on campus.”

As for faculty and graduate students at Iowa State, Areopagus hosts discussion groups at noon on Fridays at the Memorial Union. According to Tilstra, there are normally around 10 to 15 participants. Tilstra said these groups have been very important to her.

“I feel like with Christianity, you can have like the very fluffy stuff, and you can have the deeper stuff, too. And they [Areopagus] go deeper. So I appreciate that as well,” Tilstra said.

The third and final leg of Areopagus is their work with international students. Areopagus invites international students to coffee and tea in the Gerdin lobby at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. At these groups, students are able to practice conversational English with others from around the world.

Helfers also discussed the important role hospitality plays in ministry, especially with international students.

“We invite students into our homes…. For many international students, they [have] never stepped foot into an American home,” Helfers said. “And so to be able to open up our homes and to say, ‘You’re welcome here, and we’d love for you to enjoy a meal with us’.”

Tilstra recommends Areopagus to all students.

“It [Areopagus] really is for anybody- undergrad or grad,” Tilstra said.

Besides the weekly Bible and discussion groups, Areopagus will be holding other events for students to attend as well. According to Tilstra, Areopagus will be hosting a Christmas celebration event on Dec. 5.

For more information, email Helfers at [email protected] or visit their website.