(By Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today). More than 80 years ago, the first president of Princeton Evangelical Fellowship aspired for the organization to allow students “to enjoy Christian fellowship one with another, to bear united witness to the faith of its members in the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God, and to encourage other students to take, with them, a definite stand for Christ on the campus.”
In 2017, the Ivy League student ministry remains fully committed to this purpose … just without calling themselves evangelical.
The long-running organization changed its name this year to become Princeton Christian Fellowship, citing baggage surrounding the evangelical label.
“There’s a growing recognition that the term evangelical is increasingly either confusing, or unknown, or misunderstood to students,” the organization’s director, Bill Boyce, told The Daily Princetonian.
It’s not an issue limited to the 8,000-student campus; a number of evangelicals across the country share his concerns, particularly after last year’s election linked evangelical identity with support for President Donald Trump in the public eye.
Princeton Christian Fellowship began discussing its name change prior to Trump’s election, though the decision was officially voted into place in May and announced at the start of this school year, the school paper wrote.
“We’re interested in being people who are defined by our faith and by our faith commitments and not by any sort of political agenda,” said Boyce, who has led the campus group since 1985.
Princeton Christian Fellowship’s decision corresponds with younger Christians’ draw to institutions that focus on Jesus and downplay labels, according to Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute.
“I don’t see it as a negative move,” said Powell. “Anything that puts Christ in the title is something that I applaud, especially because as I see organizations using the term evangelical less, they’re still adhering to core principles.
Related article: Princeton Christian Fellowship Ditches the Label ‘Evangelical’, by Rebecca Ngu, The Daily Princetonian
Listen to Carmen discuss this issue on her radio show The Reconnect with Carmen LaBerge. (discussion begins at the 42:00 mark)