By Katelyn Morgan
Pinelake has a vision for its church: to see Mississippi changed one life story at a time.
Pinelake originated in 1971 in a mobile chapel on Spillway Road in Brandon, Mississippi, but now has locations in Flowood, Madison, Clinton, Starkville and, as of 2015, Oxford.
Pinelake Oxford has touched many lives over the past six years. And over the last few years, Pinelake’s college ministry has offered a sense of community to Ole Miss and Northwest Community College students.
College is a time for new beginnings and a time for students to figure out who they are and how to make an impact. But as exciting as college can be, it can also bring a sense of loneliness. Students who transition to a new place with new people can find themselves longing to find community.
PL College has managed to offer a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere to all students who attend Ole Miss and Northwest. At PL College, differences are embraced and celebrated.
“The beautiful thing about PL College and the way that we kind of build community is that it is centered around Jesus but everything else about it can be different,” said Daniel Judge, Pinelake Oxford’s college pastor. “So you have different students and different walks of life, meeting different places, talking about different things, coming from different cultures and backgrounds, but the common ground is who Jesus is.
“But that also creates an atmosphere where because we’re going to love as Jesus loves, we’re going to let people belong before they ever believe. And so our community lets people come in even if they are unsure about Jesus or have been burned by a church before. They have a place that loves them and welcomes them in before that.”
PL College’s atmosphere is one of the first things that catch college students’ attention. That was the case For Ethan McKinley, a sophomore at Ole Miss.
“I remember my first Wednesday night. The positivity, the smiles, the inclusiveness. It was something unique and special,” said McKinley.
PL College also has makes the warmth and care personal.
“They show intentionality through personally reaching out to every single person they can. Asking them ‘How are they doing?’ and ‘How can we pray for you? How can we encourage you and be there for you this week?’” said Marcus Davis, a sophomore at Ole Miss.
PL College continues to grow, welcoming people each week.
“They’re people I see around campus all the time,” said Davis. “They’re some of my best friends. They’re people that I can go get coffee with at any time. They’re people I can talk to at any time. They’re people that will see my text and respond instantly. They’re people that I trust.
“This community is a lifetime community and one that is forever growing. I think that we’re there for one another and encourage one another. We uplift one another. We pray for one another. And through that more people are brought in and get to experience the community and the life change that comes along with it.”
For those looking for community, PL College continues to meet throughout the semester on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. at The Jefferson, 7 miles east of campus off Highway 6.