The reason why I chose Philadelphia students was simple. I went to the Sheffield University 'church search' believing it was going to be like another freshers fair, with free pens and 'WWJD' bracelets. It wasn't; instead it was a bunch of people wearing different coloured t-shirts. However, Alice (the Philadelphia Students representative) greeted me with real friendliness and a genuine smile, so I decided to tag along with her group. The reason why I have stayed for two years is more complex.

 By Izzy Martin

By Izzy Martin

The main reason is the community that Philadelphia Students has provided me with. The other students have become some of my closest friends. The whole student gatherings (student celebrations) give you a chance to get to know everyone, while small groups and accountability partners enable you to create deep, lasting relationships. After just one week, I knew I had made life-long friends.

The community extends from just the students. The student families were really important for me. They are always willing to have you round for a meal, or to just lounge on a sofa to watch live TV! Another support network in place is the mentors. This is a person you meet with every few weeks, and they chat and pray for you. This really encouraged me, since it was a person taking an interest in how you as an individual was doing- something that uni life in general doesn't leave much room for. The Philadelphia student team also look out for you; they have encouraged me to become more confident and, as they get to know you more, they become your friends. I prefer this more intimate church setting where you know everyone to the larger student churches in Sheffield.

Obviously though, I wouldn't have joined l Philadelphia students had it not been for God, regardless of how good the Williams pizza nights were! What I love about Philly (St Tomas Church Philadelphia) is that they are big on God, but don't big him up. Every church service, small group, pizza night, mentor session, clearly has God at its centre, instead of it being about the individuals involved. They pray before all events, and allow God to lead the main meetings and worship. Philadelphia students clearly has a heart for God. The main meetings reflect this, with a relaxed atmosphere. Most students wander to the back to have more room during worship, and the messages are meaningful but short (something you are very thankful for after a week of lectures!!) The student meetings enable a closeness to God which I rarely experience, and I have learnt more about the bible, been encouraged to pursue my faith and question what I'm told more than ever before.

Of course, choosing a church is a personal thing, and I would recommend looking at different churches before settling down (unlike I did!), but Philadelphia students is, in my opinion, your best bet. Like any church, you get out of it what you give, however, if you commit to Philly, you will feel close to God, and they will encourage you and enable you to grow as a individual and in your relationship with God.