Chapter History

Chapter History

In 1939, before InterVarsity was even official in the US, a group of students the University of Illinois became an InterVarsity chapter, a chapter that has had significant impact on the whole movement. Most importantly, ministry here has been characterized by a few things. First, John Roeckeman’s chapter-building advice: “do the right things, do them well, do them consistently.” Building significant ministry requires culture-building and long-term investment, which depends on long-term staff. Second, innovation for more effective ministry, as staff keep problem solving year after year. And third, planting for broader ministry and outreach.

Here are some highlights from our history:

1939 : a group of U of I students began interacting with staff from InterVarsity Canada.

1941 : InterVarsity USA incorporated.

1948 : Urbana ’48, the first of many InterVarsity missions conventions to be held at U of I. 1,331 registered.

1958 : The chapter agreed that a group of graduate students meet separately to better serve the needs of that population. The next year they were officially a separate Graduate InterVarsity fellowship.

1964 : The Urbana missions conference continued to grow and moved into Assembly Hall.

1967 : InterVarsity T-shirts used for New Student Outreach

1970 : John Roeckeman entered U of I as a transfer student. The next year he and Paul Dunterman moved from Garner to FAR to re-plant ministry there.

1977 : Staff Dave Ivaska started a training week at Cedar for new Bible Study leaders.

1978 : Staff Peggy Lowry drew up a sheet of NSO follow up instructions that has been used to train leaders ever since.

1980 : John Roeckeman returned to U of I as staff, and began using tables all over campus to connect with new students. He and Steve Rigdon created the huge red InterVarsity banner (now retired) and its huge wooden banner structure (still in use). Other NSO upgrades from the 80s: fluorescent signs everywhere, flyers in mailboxes, and the Back to School Blitz ~1985.

1982 : The undergraduate ministry splits into Champaign and Urbana chapters, hoping to spur growth of each smaller group.

1988 : Area Coordinators (dorm-based small group coordinators) became their own leadership team.

1980s and 90s : Diane (Janecki) Schouten adapted STIM to train UIUC IV students on the summer missions team.

1993 : The Urbana chapter expanded to two chapters, Urbana-North (ISR, B-E, Allen) and Urbana-South (LAR, PAR, FAR).

1994 : Mindy Meier and some students from the champaign chapter planted GreekIV, the second or third Greek chapter in the country.

1996 : Mark Ashton developed the GIG strategy as a way to mobilize a large chapter in effective witness using Evangelistic Bible Studies. He changed the name to “Investigative Bible Studies” and then “Investigative Bible Discussions”. We now call them “GIGs” (Groups Investigating God). This became a national evangelism strategy in 1998.

1998 : The Urbana chapter re-unites due to a shortage of staff.

2003 : U of I InterVarsity began renting space in campus town at 6th and Green; it is used several nights per week for large groups, worship teams, and student training, and provides time-saving on-site office space for staff.

2005-2010 : The chapter supported several “micro-plant” SGs off and on, as students were available to reach special contexts, including Singaporean students, Black students, Marching Illini, LaFe, Women’s Ultimate Frisbee, Urbana-South Resident Advisors, et al.

2006 : Intentional internship program at U of I starts with four new hires, in hopes of re-populating the downstate Illinois staff team. Since then 31 staff have been hired from, or trained in this chapter.

2009 : The Champaign and Urbana undergrad chapters rejoin to more efficiently reach the campus.