April 15, 2008
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA -- A loosely constructed booth, made of PVC pipe and covered by maroon cloth, sat on the University of Florida at Gainesville’s Plaza of the Americas recently.
According to a story by Katie Sanders and published in the University of Florida’s Independent Alligator newspaper, a small one-word sign labeled “confessions,” resulted in puzzled looks and passers-by slowing down. But there was no priest inside the box.
Instead, a group of Christian students were there to invite listeners. They wanted to apologize for what they called their own shortcomings in not living how Jesus intended. They're sorry for the bad image Christians might have on campus.
Russell McMullen, a UF sophomore involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, organized the reverse confessional.
“We used this to try and let people take a fair look at Christm and not just prejudge and write it off as a hateful and intolerant religion,” McMullen told the Alligator.
He said some students who saw the booth were confused at first and thought they were being invited to confess their own sins. McMullen told the Alligator that he and his colleagues would be the ones giving the face-to-face confessions.
Judging, hurting and not showing love to people were named as the Christian group's transgressions, offered on behalf of the whole church.
According to the Alligator, McMullen didn't get more than 20 students inside the booth Wednesday, which stood under the trees on the Plaza, but he expected more throughout the week. The booth closed Friday.
Graham Wigle, a UF freshman, manned the booth while McMullen went to class. Wigle told the Alligator that students walking across campus often get inaccurate representations of Christianity from local sign-carrying preachers.
The confessional is also meant to encourage Christians to be more humble, he said.
“We're imperfect. We stink,” Wigle told the Alligator. “We want to point people to the real Jesus.”
© 2008 ASSIST News Service, used with permission