Campus Ministry USA visits free-speech zone

Sister Kirsten delivers a speech in the free speech zone outside Parks Library Nov. 2. Dallas Nicholson, sophomore in computer science drummed on a wooden box throughout the speech.

Charlie Coffey

Preachers have become a common sight outside of Parks Library in recent months.

Groups of students gathered in the free-speech zone Monday as Campus Ministry USA, a group of street preachers, visited Iowa State outside of Parks Library for the second time this year.

The group, led by Brother Jed Smock, travels to the United States to engage in conversations with students on college campuses.

The group’s purpose “is to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the college and university students of America and the world”, according to its website.

Students gathered around the preachers between classes, some listening and some giving feedback, both positive and negative. 

Nicholas Bitz, junior in electrical engineering, stepped out of the crowd to engage with Sister Kirsten, one of Jed’s assistants, about homosexuality.  

“Once and a while I’ll rile them when I walk by,” Bitz said. “I feel like some of these people have to be kidding.”

When asked about the negative feedback, Brother Jed responded with optimism. 

“I consider this positive that they stop and listen and give feedback,” he said.

The conversation included topics of sexuality, sins and sodomy, as well as denominations and hypocrisy in Christianity.

“I do not represent one single denomination,” Sister Kirsten said after a student asked about the specifics of her faith. “Denominations are Satan’s way of dividing the church.”

Many students tried to interact with the preachers while they were speaking, including Brian Gill, senior in animal science. He circled Sister Kirsten with a pride flag on his back, and Kierstin Blomberg, senior in meteorology and member of the Iowa State Optimist Club, tried to give Sister Kirsten a flier for a Jammie Jog event.

The preacher would reply by telling the students to repent of their sins and then continue her speech. 

Brian Odino, junior in animal science, posed questions about scripture to the preacher. He is a member of the St. Thomas Aquinas Church and believes that while not everyone agrees on religion, they should still get along.

“We’re not here for a long time but we should be here for a good time,” Odino said. 

Dallas Nicholson, sophomore in computer science, was drumming on a wooden box next to the group of preachers as they spoke. Every once in a while Nicholson would cease drumming to add to the conversation.

“If you don’t sin, Jesus died for nothing,” Nicholson said in response to Sister Kirsten’s comments about repenting.

Brother Jed and Campus Ministry USA drew a crowd of about 75 students between the 1 and 2 p.m. class period. Brother Jed said they usually stay out until 4:30 or 5 p.m when they visit campus.