After realizing that there was no outlet on Penn's campus for students to write down their ideas about Christianity, College first-year Sydney Sun created the Christian journal the Penn Epistle.
Sun, the journal's editor-in-chief, said she wants the publication to serve as a place for students to share their love of Jesus and what God inspires them to do. The Penn Epistle published its first journal article in December 2020 and has since posted weekly columns about community, truth, worldview, and praise on its website. Its latest project includes posting daily reflection videos in the 40 days of Lent leading up to the celebration of Easter.
The short meditation videos, which are shared on the Penn Epistle website and Instagram, encourage viewers to rest and spend time with Jesus during Lent.
"It is important to take time out of our days and be still and meditate with God,” Sun said.
The Penn Epistle writers and editors include students from all years of undergraduate study at Penn.
College first-year and the Penn Epistle Praise Editor Madeeha Mirza said she was drawn to the praise section because of the potential for writers to share ideas that emerge during their personal quiet time with the Lord. The Praise column includes prose, poems, and artwork.
Mirza said joining the Penn Epistle has strengthened her spiritual relationship with God. Although she did not consider herself a writer before joining the Penn Epistle, the journal has allowed her to step outside of her comfort zone and listen to what God is calling on her to share.
"It's so cool to see how many more people are coming to this journal because everyone who you talk to just sees that God is really at the center of it," Mirza said.
College first-year and the Penn Epistle Community Editor Ellie Shuert said her work with the Penn Epistle has been rewarding and encouraging during an otherwise stressful year navigating her first two semesters at Penn.
"Because we're all there for the same purpose, the relationships between the editors and their writers have been really edifying and productive," Shuert said. "At the end of the day, we get to produce something that's for the glory of God."
Wharton junior and the Penn Epistle Worldview Editor Ben Zeisloft said he hopes the Penn Epistle can be a space for Christians to encourage one another as believers studying at a non-Christian campus. To achieve this goal, the Penn Epistle is gathering resources for Christians at Penn, such as audio files from speakers hosted by various Christian organizations that will be available to all students.
Zeisloft said he also hopes the Penn Epistle is able to introduce Penn students to ideas about Christianity.
"Part of the goal is to expose Penn students to a new way of thinking about Christianity that a lot of them may just not be familiar with, and introduce it as not only a valid way of thinking, but truly the best way of thinking about the world," he said.
Sun said the Penn Epistle is working on creating a print publication to reach a wider audience by fall 2021. The journal hopes to include new writers and expand perspectives, including those of Philadelphia pastors and Penn professors.
"I hope to really continue to be a part of the Penn Epistle and see where God takes my role and what he wants me to do," Sun said. "I love the Epistle. I love everyone who's a part of it and it's such a great organization for me to serve."
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