Local is Global- Seminole Christian Life
By: Sean F. Engle, Spring 2016
Seminole Christian Life is a registered student organization on campus at Florida State University. The history of Seminole Christian Life dates back way before it’s opening day on Florida States campus in the fall of 2008. It was in 2004 when a group of 10 University of Florida students who were apart of the Gator Christian Life assembled together to create a group called FSU Merge. FSU Merge was established with the intentions of forming a group similar to Gator Christian Life on Florida States campus. While the FSU Merge members spent time researching the city, campus, and the potential of this groups success they also evaluated the other 12 ministries that were very similar and already existent at Florida State. It was in the fall of 2008 that Seminole Christian Life was approved as a registered student organization and began making a direct impact on the community. Seminole Christian Life along with thousands of other churches is a part of the Great Commission Churches. As one of thousands, Seminole Christian Life incorporates the same values and beliefs as the original founders who formed the Great Commission Churches starting in the early 1970’s. Each Great Commission Church shares the same plan designed to proclaim the gospel in its city, state, nation, and throughout the world. The relationships each church forms with its member’s shares a common connection with the intentions of bringing people to be followers of Christ, and to be good citizens devoted to serving the community.
In 1969, a pastor from Texas named Herschel Martindale went to a conference hosted on campus, which was the inspiration he needed to dedicate his life to fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ by educating students and reaching out to them through the creation of the Great Commission Churches. The vision of this movement focused on the great commission of churches and the new testament of Christianity. During the 1970’s, the organization lacked national structure and had no central leader. It was Jesus that was viewed as the leader of the movements and each existing church. Shortly after leaders such as priests, pastors, and visionaries adopted new responsibilities of delivering God’s message that effectively worked to establish the Great Commission of Churches. While a majority of new churches were established in U.S. communities rather than college campuses we now see today that this movement has spread throughout the world and is very diversified to accommodate all individuals seeking a relationship with God. In the 1990s, a process was formed that appointed pastors in churches in the association and in 1999 the Great Commission Leadership Institute was formed into a ministry to support training pastors for the expansion of new churches for the movement. It was in 2006 when the movement established an official core value statement, allowing each church to adopt the same beliefs and practices of the association. Finally, in 2007 Great Commission Churches joined the national association of Evangelicals allowing them to strengthen and expand their movement. The growth of the movement has reached far beyond the United States and we can now see there are Great Commission Churches in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The history and establishment of the Great Commission Churches plays a significant role in the creation of Seminole Christian Life and stands to support the organization in the same way it supports all of its members. While members of Gator Christian Life formed Seminole Christian Life it cannot be ignored that without the Great Commission Churches and Jesus Christ this campus organization would not be possible. Christianity has served as a powerful way to bring people from all over the world together by practicing the same values and beliefs. Seminole Christian Life is a relatively small organization that has existed for less than a decade but the connection it shares with larger denominations strengthens its purpose and provides credibility and worth the institution because of the similarities that all Christians share. The Seminole Christian Life community is very similar to larger denominations in that they provide weekly worship services and hold frequent social gatherings for people to share there relationship with God and build upon their knowledge of the bible.
In speaking with a pastor of the organization, Lee Gordon, I was able to connect with a few members of the organization to gain some insight on exactly what the organization means to them and how it has an impact on the Christian community. Lee Gordon explained to me several unique aspects of how the organization operates on a weekly basis. Although they do own a building on campus, they utilize locations on campus where they meet and hold services such as the Moore Auditorium, the courtyard outside the wellness center, and the integration statue. In addition to this, pastor Lee Gordon or Pastor Antoine Diot provides group dinners on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday following the worship service. Home groups are also offered Monday through Thursday at various times along with fun activities that strengthen individuals relationship with God as well as their relationship with members of the community. When I spoke with a member of the community about the impact it has had on him I was moved by how inspired he was to serve the community after finding his relationship with God. Matt spoke about the actions he takes on campus to make a difference and mentioned his efforts to building relationships with students on campus to help unite them with God. In addition to this he spoke of the opportunities offered by Seminole Christian Life that allowed him to take a summer mission trip to Orlando to help raise money and a trip to Spain where he taught people to speak English. The conversations I had with both Lee and Matt showed me the connection that this local institution has with the larger denomination of Christianity based on their common values and beliefs centered on helping others build a relationship with God and to give back to the community by providing service.
The impact of Seminole Christian Life has spread through thousands of lives just within the Florida State Community. While it is easy to see the impact it has on the Christian members who are current followers of Christ, along with the members in leadership positions who have an opportunity to spread Christianity throughout campus and educate others who are interested, the influence of this institution does not stop here. Students, particularly freshman are welcomed with an equal opportunity to attend worship services, home groups, social events and dinners, and any other upcoming calendar events that the organization offers. I felt very comfortable talking with members of the organization and appreciated when Lee gave me a Seminole Christian Life T-shirt that represented the organization. The logo on the T-shirt is a Seminole arrowhead for Florida State with the Letters SCL in the middle and the shirt is colored Blue and Green. Lee explained his interpretation of the shirts colors as being blue representing water and green representing life but mentioned that it was designed in a way that was up for interpretation. My impression was that it correlated with the University of Florida’s colors because it was the Gator Christian Life organization that created Seminole Christian Life. Lee expressed to me his devotion to Florida State and what inspired him to work towards the formation of Seminole Christian Life. His father was a pastor who he often heard speak over at the University of Florida and although his 9 other siblings all favored University of Florida Lee devoted himself to forming Seminole Christian Life at Florida State where he also received a degree in civil engineering.
My experience from working with members of Seminole Christian Life and the organization itself was very positive and beneficial. I was able to see what a typical week consist of and what the purpose of the events being held are for. Members explained to me different aspects of the organization and how they serve together to deliver the overall purpose of why Seminole Christian Life exists. I learned about the history of not just Seminole Christian Life but also its affiliation with Greater Commission Churches and how they have many similarities based on a common set of core values. The expansion of Christianity occurring at all levels, both locally and globally, and this can be contributed to the strength of the religion and the beliefs and practices shared. In my interaction with Lee, my impression of Seminole Christian Life was that it’s a good addition to campus and the religious practices of Seminole Christian Life are connected with the practice of Christianity around the world.
Lee Gordon is the pastor for Seminole Christian Life at Florida State Universtiy and plays an active role in the movement of Christianity. As a child he grew up with 9 siblings and his father was a pastor who inspired Lee to serve the community for God. Before attending Florida State University where he earned a degree in Civil Engineering, Lee worked with the Gator Christian Life community and became part of a group called FSU Merge which led to the creation of Seminole Christian Life. The four years of research with FSU Merge allowed him to see the opportunity to reach out to a new community of people and Lee has served as president of the student registered organization and plays an active role in the church. He is constantly going on mission trips to help others and loves what he does.
The organization is very welcoming and it was generous of Lee to give me a Seminole Christian Life T-shirt that represented the organization. The logo on the T-shirt is a Seminole arrowhead for Florida State with the Letters SCL in the middle and the shirt is colored Blue and Green. Lee explained his interpretation of the shirts colors as being blue representing water and green representing life but mentioned that it was designed in a way that was up for interpretation. I enjoyed my experience working with Lee Gordon and other members of Seminole Christian Life and see the organization has much to offer the Florida State community. In learning about what they provide students and teach about Christianity I think it is a good addition as a campus organization. Seminole Christian Life shares the same core values as an affiliation of the Great Commission Churches that was establiished in the 1970s and conforms to the practices of Chrisitianity world wide.