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Christianity at Conifer

Students at Conifer High School speak out about their experiences as Christian youth
Abigail Leidel
Pictured above is a worship group performing on stage at Lakewood Vineyard Church. Worship groups are religious teams that perform Christian music, starting and ending Christian services. The words are typically projected on screen so attendees can sing along.

31.5% of the global population practice Christianity to some extent, making Christianity the world’s most followed religion. Roughly 63% of America’s youth are committed to Christianity, and 22% of youth worldwide are Christian.

Conifer High School freshman Emily Bunchman grew up in a Christian household and continues to practice her faith today. When asked how she thought religion affected her, she said, “I think it affects me in a positive way for the most part, because it really helps me get through life, and without it, I would feel lost.”

Bunchman talked about how faith is a large part of her life, and how it gives her a sense of belonging and safety. 

“I feel like religion can sometimes affect me in a negative way because it can be harder to find friends,” Bunchman said.

She has faced judgment when opening up about her faith and has encountered times when close friends made her feel self-conscious and uncomfortable about her beliefs.

“I’ve had a few friends say things like, “Well what you believe isn’t even true, why would you think that?” and almost like guilt-trip me into thinking that I’m stupid for believing,” Bunchman said.

On some Sundays, Bunchman and her family go to Conifer Community Church. This has been an intermittent practice in her life for close to seven years.

Not only does Bunchman go to Church on Sundays, but she has participated in a youth group, introduced to her by her freshman friend Penelope Dickinson, who currently goes to Conifer High School. The teen youth group is at Aspen Ridge Church and takes place on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The group focuses on bringing religious individuals together, offering a place for them to share their thoughts and personal stories relating to faith. The group is centered around authentic worship and relevant teachings that high school students can apply to their lives. Bunchman said that when she did participate in this group for the evening, she enjoyed the experience and felt that she was surrounded by people her age who shared some of her religious views. She stated that she would like to go back at some point to dive deeper into bible study and worship.

Emily Bunchman and Penny Dickinson taking communion at their church, Conifer Community Church. (Abigail Leidel)

Conifer freshman Monica Zoldowski, a friend of Bunchman’s, does not currently identify with any faith. She stated that it’s not something she has ever really considered and that she is happy where she is. Zoldowski has multiple Christian friends and maintains that religious differences have no effect on their relationship.

“They love God so much and I think it helps them to be a better person and helps them to be more grateful,” Zoldowski said.

Bunchman feels like her current friends who do not practice Christianity care for her and do not treat her differently because of her religious beliefs.

They always seem happy and very positive,” freshman Marley Brown said.

Brown is currently unsure of where she stands with her religion, but stated she feels comfortable around her religious friends.

“Having someone know something so personal about your lifestyle and still love you the same is something that not everyone can say they have,” Bunchman said. 

Bunchman hopes that in the future she can help people understand that her religion does not mean that she hates others who don’t hold the same beliefs.

“Just because I’m Christian doesn’t mean I hate your religion,” Bunchman said.

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