Recently revived Converts Club fosters faith, friendship at BYU

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President Grace Templeton (far left) with advisor Melissa Lewis Western and club members. Converts Club was revived in Fall 2023. (Image courtesy of Grace Templeton)

Grace Templeton revived the BYU Converts Club, which focuses on providing a community for converts and lifelong members to strengthen their faith and cultivate a sense of belonging, in 2023.

BYU Converts Club held its first meeting of the semester on Jan. 23.

Originally established in 2018, Converts Club experienced a decline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grace Templeton, a recent convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sophomore at BYU, aimed to revitalize the club.

“Conversion has been a transformative experience for me,” Templeton said. “My baptism in July 2022 inspired me to apply to BYU. I did one semester at the University of Illinois before coming here for the Winter 2023 semester.”

Templeton had the idea to relaunch the club the next summer and decided to take action.

“The first meeting saw no attendees, which is what I expected,” Templeton said. In subsequent gatherings, the group has grown, and there are currently around nine members.

As the club grows, Templeton envisions speakers, discussions on family history and temple trips as some of its goals.

“Meetings right now prioritize discussions on the unique challenges that converts face,” she said.

The club’s current vice president, Cate Ducôté, was raised Catholic and found her way to the Church through high school friends.

“I never had a connection to God when I was younger and I feel like I lacked a lot of guidance, but since joining the Church it’s blessed me in a lot of ways,” she said.

The initial Converts Club meeting Ducôté attended consisted of herself, Templeton, and their sponsor Melissa F. Lewis-Western, the Rachel Martin Faculty Fellow in the Marriott School of Business.

“It’s a small growth but it’s a cool little community. Listening to people’s stories and the different ways that they’ve found the Church has been really cool,” Ducôté said. “We don’t just talk about our journeys, we talk about life and a bunch of random stuff.”

Hayley Bravin, another club member, spoke of her conversion journey.

“I was in a sorority at my old school, partying every weekend, multiple times a week. It was social but in an unhealthy way,” Bravin said. “Since I’ve found the Church I’ve received so many blessings. My life has definitely improved from what it was and I am a happier person.”

Bravin applied to BYU before she was a member and got accepted as a transfer student. During New Student Orientation, she saw Converts Club on a list of clubs in the Wilkinson Student Center and thought it would be good to go.

“It was a little shocking going from no members to everyone’s a member. It’s a culture shock. I had to make changes to my lifestyle, the way I was living, the way I was dressing. All of these things had to change in my life so coming to BYU (was) like jumping in headfirst. I was hoping to find a community of people who could relate to that and understand my experience and that’s what I found,” Bravin said.

The newest member of the club, Jane Cai, was born in mainland China and raised in Fiji, where she encountered the church at 14 and got baptized. Currently a sophomore at BYU, Cai found the club just this semester.

“Hayley and I were in the same class and we just happened to sit by each other and started talking,” Cai said. “She’s also an accounting major and we became friends. One day she was just like ‘Weird question but did you grow up in the Church or are you a convert?’ And I told her I was a convert and she told me there was a club.”

Jane Cia (left) and Hayley Bravin (right) enjoy their conversations at a recent Converts Club meeting. Both have found a sense of belonging and friendship in their journey with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at BYU. (Elsa Bray)

Cai’s connection with Bravin in class not only led to a new friendship but also opened the door to a community where she found a unique sense of belonging.

“It’s not like I felt excluded everywhere else but that was a different sense of belonging in the converts club that I felt. And I want to bring that belonging to other people,” Cai said.

President Grace Templeton shared her excitement for club growth, saying whether a convert or a member is seeking a better understanding, everyone is welcome.

Meetings take place every second and fourth Tuesday, running from 7-8:30 p.m. in room 3231 of the WSC.

Students can stay updated on the BYU Converts Club’s activities and events by following their Instagram account.

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