Whether you’re a long-time believer or hopeful skeptic at best, spirituality in college is a journey with twists, turns, and dead ends. You have questions and beliefs, doubts and dreams, and schoolwork to go along with it. Here at Labyrinth, we welcome and encourage you on your journey by providing a safe place to ask questions about God, explore and grow in your spirituality, and connect with other students. College can feel like a maze — we can help you find your way.
Labyrinth is a progressive Christian community that is LGBTQ-led, racially inclusive, and open to all students. Whether you are a person of faith, have no faith, are questioning, or are devout, all are invited to walk with us into the mystery.
It’s hard to say what Labyrinth as a whole believes, because we are primarily focused on spiritual exploration. We don’t have any particular creed or dogma we expect our members to conform to, just expectations about how we treat each other. That said, here are some general statements about our approach:
- We value exploration and hard questions about God, religion, and life in general, with no promise of easy answers.
- We believe in radical inclusivity, especially of our intersectional identities.
- We are a safe place to be openly queer and openly Christian on campus.
- We take the Bible seriously, but not too literally.
- We value open dialogue with people of other faiths to help us learn more about our own faith and to find common ground.
- We believe in working for justice and liberation for all people.
We get this question a lot! Yes. Our ministers are Christian. We read the Bible in worship and Bible study. We celebrate Christian holidays. We also value the diversity found within the Christian tradition, and we don’t expect our members to hold to any particular creed or dogma and we see creeds as testimonies of faith rather than tests. of faith- part of our free church roots. Whether or not our members identify as Christian is another question entirely. (Check out the video above for more on that.)
Our independent student ministry is supported by six local churches representing several progressive denominations (American Baptist, Alliance of Baptists, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, and Metropolitan Community Church.) These churches support us with generous gifts of space, food, money, and board leadership, but Labyrinth is and always has been student-driven and ecumenical.
In short, no. We have no interest in forcing labels or boxes that aren’t life-giving. Instead, we try to make space for everyone to explore spirituality and figure out what works for them within a supportive and diverse community. We’ve had several atheists come through Labyrinth and even serve as officers. We want to journey with you, as we explore the mysteries of the universe and the mystery that we know as the holy one, yet no matter where you end up we would be honored to be on the journey with you.
Yes! We have loved having both undergraduate and graduate students participate in Labyrinth.
Our weekly schedule changes from semester to semester, depending on the kinds of events our members want to have. We always do worship, Bible study, community meals, and monthly social events. We also add events to our schedule based on the particular interests of our group, such as book club, movie night, meditation, and yoga.
Not at all! We provide a variety of opportunities to connect throughout the week, recognizing that everyone has different wants and needs on their spiritual journey. Come to what interests you, and don’t worry if you can’t come all the time. We are always happy to see you!
We choose a topic for each semester (check out our Bible Study page for more info). Typically, we pic a book from the bible to read in the fall. During the spring semester we examine particular topics, something like mental health or sexuality. When we’re reading a book of the Bible, we’ll read a few chapters together and learn about the historical and cultural background. We’ll ask questions – nothing is off limits – and talk about what it brings to mind. You don’t have to have any prior knowledge or your own Bible. When we study a topic, we bring in all kinds of sources – scientists, theologians, activists, and of course, the Bible.
We gather in the chapel to sing, pray, read scripture, discuss, and hold sacred space together. Our format can change from week to week, especially for special services such as All Saints/All Souls, Lent, Palm Sunday, and Easter but here are some of the important pieces that are almost always present:
- Music – using a variety of sources, including some written especially for our community
- Call to Presence – when we set our intentions for our time together
- The Reading – usually from the Bible, but sometimes we’ll include other writings
- Community Prayers – when we share our joys and concerns with each other
- Spoken Word – varies a lot, from sermons to group discussions to open mics to videos to a combination of all of them
- Communion – an ancient ritual of connection, to our tradition and to each other
- Benediction – a sending in peace to close our time together
After worship, we always have a meal together. This is a great time to build community and continue conversations that emerged in worship.
While the seeds of Labyrinth were planted around 2010, we’ve officially been an independent campus ministry since the 2013-2014 school year.
The chapel is on 22nd Street between Guadalupe and San Antonio – look for the door in the middle of a mural. You can navigate to 457 W. 22nd Street to get close. The orange door to the student lounge is in an alley between University Christian Church and the UTC, right off of 21st Street near the Littlefield fountain. You can navigate to 101 W. 21st Street to get close.
Yes! On Sundays, we can validate parking on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Callaway House parking garage, using the entrance on Nueces Street between 21st and 22nd. This garage is just down the street from the chapel. We also have parking closer to our lounge for other events. Park in the spaces marked for University Christian Church in the lot on University Avenue, between Martin Luther King, Jr. Street and 21st Street, and make sure to get a parking pass when you get to the lounge.
Rev. Shelby Nowland
Pastor Shelby is a minister with standing in the United Church of Christ and the Alliance Baptists with a deep commitment to a progressive ecumenical faith. He has experience in campus ministry, chaplaincy in both jail and hospital settings, as well as parish ministry. Shelby has a deep passion for interfaith dialogue as well as justice advocacy, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. He is a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University with BS in Religious studies, as well as an MDiv graduate of Brite Divinity School. in his free time he enjoys cooking, reading, and true crime. Shelby shares his life with his partner Rev. Jacob, their French Bulldog Waylon and cat Naomi.
Luke Leverett is our Director of Music and Media. Luke is a singer/songwriter, guitarist, music instructor, father, and writer. Luke says, “I never think of myself as a starving artist, but a hungry artist. My songs are about being in between, and I am.” Luke leads us in worship with music from old hymnals, new song books, and original music.
Haley Sietz is our Associate Minister of Events and Administration. As a student in Labyrinth from 2017 to 2020, she served as an officer, led bible study, organized movie nights, started our book club, and even preached in worship. She graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor’s in English and Religious Studies in 2020 and is currently working toward her Master of Divinity degree at Iliff School of Theology.