Converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can find themselves in the deep end of a new culture at BYU. To help with that, students have created a club to help converts feel at home.
Michael Shukis said he joined the Church as a teenager and found it difficult to adjust when he arrived at BYU.
Shukis says he saw a need for converts to be able to meet each other and feel comfortable discussing their beliefs and being themselves, so he helped organize the BYU Converts Club with Adam Sierra in 2018. Shukis is now the club’s president, and the club hosts meetings twice a month.
The first meeting is usually a social activity, like a game or event. The group has dubbed the second meeting “Convert Conversations.” The students meet together and discuss issues that are pertinent to converts, like how to deal with a family that might be resistant to the Church.
Club member Nicole Kline says the Converts Club has benefited her in a lot of ways. Kline says that since joining the Church was such a big life change, the club has helped her to have a tight-knit group of friends who understand her experiences.
Amanda Kint, another club member, says it can be difficult to adjust in an area where there is a high concentration of Church members because converts are sometimes unfamiliar with vernacular and other subjects common to life-long members of the Church. The Converts Club provides a comfortable space for learning opportunities.
“For me, it’s kind of an awesome, paying it forward type of experience,” Kint said. “Because as a senior at BYU, I’m a little more adjusted to the experience, having returned from a mission and everything. It’s really great to help people through things that I went through.”
The Converts Club continues to meet regularly and is working on hosting Why I Believe, an event where converts can share their story in a devotional-type atmosphere. The event is scheduled for November 14. More information can be found on the BYU Convert Club Facebook page.