Religious Character

Berea College has a particular Christian self-understanding that makes it stand apart from most other schools that call themselves “Christian”.  From their beginning, the Berea schools were never associated with any denomination or sectarian Christian church.  Berea College’s founder, John G. Fee, argued that the Christian gospel could be described best by the phrase “impartial love” that welcomed students and staff from “every clime and every nation” to study and to work together.  We are rooted in a Christian spirituality that is egalitarian, socially provocative, and focused on serving students of Appalachia and beyond.

The heart of the Christian gospel for Fee was summed up in the two great commandments enunciated by Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-40).  Another biblical text that expressed the heart of the gospel for Fee and the Berea College community was the statement of the apostle Paul, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26); a text that has stood as Berea’s motto for more than 125 years.  Together, these and other such inclusive scriptural texts constituted what Fee understood as “the gospel of impartial love” which guided and challenged the earliest Berea community and still does today.

From Berea College’s beginning to the present day, we have welcomed “all peoples of the earth” with a hospitality that is inclusive.  In the spirit of radical Christian hospitality, we welcome all who accept Berea College’s core values of impartial love and service to others, whatever their culture, faith, or philosophy.

Out of this Christian self-understanding and a deep commitment to the liberal arts, Berea College educates its students about the many literary, historical, and contemporary expressions of Christian faith, ethic, and motive of service through its academic curriculum, convocation programs, worship services, and other means.  Out of this same Christian and liberal arts identity, Berea College commits itself to fostering social justice and equality for all.

We strive to be a place where people with various Christian interpretations, different religious traditions, and no religious tradition work together in support of Berea’s Great Commitments.  We do not ignore our differences, but rather seek to understand each other honestly and respectfully, and together create a climate where anyone can openly discuss what they believe without fear of sanction.  To that end, all persons who are willing to share in the spirit and the work of the Great Commitments are welcome to study, to teach, and to work at Berea College.

The Campus Christian Center cultivates an atmosphere of radical hospitality and nurtures the spiritual wellness of the Berea College community by

  • Educating about the Christian faith and its role in an academic context
  • Providing pastoral care, pastoral counseling and crisis support for all members of the college community
  • Advocating and practicing a service-oriented interpretation of Christian faith
  • Leading the college in various forms of Christian worship
  • Providing a prophetic voice for the unique vision of Berea College
  • Developing and nurturing an ecumenical Christian atmosphere
  • Facilitating interfaith education, conversation, and engagement.

Students are encouraged to become involved in CCC programs, organized campus religious groups, and in local places of worship.