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A Brief History of University Christian Outreach (UCO)

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Origins. UCO has its origins in the late 1960s, when students in Ann Arbor, MI began to experience the action of the Holy Spirit through the Charismatic Renewal, and joined together across church boundaries to meet for prayer, fellowship and mission. As students moved on from university they desired to maintain the deep relationships they had formed and the vision of mission they shared, so they formed the Word of God Community.  By 1970 students at the University of Michigan participated in the Word of God community by gathering together in "households" as part of the "Dorm District". For the next decade students continued to meet together and engage in outreach to fellow students, while building strong and lasting friendships in Christ.

Official Launch of UCO. In 1979 "UCO" was officially launched. The goal was to take the many blessings experienced within the Word of God community and make these benefits available to a wider number of students on campus. While staff and many students continued to participate in the Word of God community, UCO became its own entity as an official student group with a high degree of student leadership, and has continued on this path up to the present.

Charisms of UCO. The primary goals of UCO are summed up in terms of four "charisms" that mark the life and spirit of UCO:

  1. Discipleship: to encourage and foster one's personal relationship with Christ and a life marked by Christian character and daily practice of the gospel.
  2. Renewal in the Holy Spirit: to encourage people to experience the full power and gifts of the Spirit in their lives, both for personal growth and for mission.
  3. Community Life: to display the common life that we are called to in Christ, through friendship and growth in commitment to one another.
  4. Ecumenism: to participate with Christians from a wide variety of churches in the work of Christian unity, and to give a witness of what the Spirit of God can accomplish among us despite ongoing divisions.

Growth of UCO. As UCO grew in numbers in the 1980s, other individuals and groups came in contact with UCO and formed UCO chapters on other campuses, both in the USA and abroad. Though each chapter of UCO functions independently, all the chapters are linked by common approaches and vehicles for working together, so that we can make progress with help from one another.

Today there are UCO chapters (or groups of students) in Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Hillsdale MI; Pittsburgh, PA; Frederick MD; Montreal, Québec; Vancouver, British Columbia; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; and Beirut, Lebanon

 

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