Members of the Emerson Christian Fellowship’s (ECF) united this month for a new bathroom cleaning project.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, members of ECF cleaned students’ suite bathrooms for free, and they will continue the project on Oct. 20 and 27. President Chris Sawey said the group is doing this to serve the community and change students’ perceptions of Christians.
“It’s a dirty job, but it shows our community a love that they probably don’t experience often,” Sawey said. “It’s a way we at ECF can humble ourselves to be more like Jesus.”
When Sawey, a senior theater education major, joined ECF in the fall of 2010, the club was known as the Emerson Good News Fellowship, and had only 10 students. Since then, the organization has changed its name, and membership has grown to almost 80 students.
The bathroom cleaning program is the first of its kind for the group.
Sawey said the group was inspired to start the project by stories of Jesus in the Bible, especially the story of him washing John the Apostle’s feet, found in the New Testament.
Laura Brincat, a sophomore visual and media arts major and member of ECF, said she proposed the idea for the program at a meeting last semester and is spearheading the initiative with Sawey.
“I had received a book called God Space from a friend, and in it the author talked about how he once volunteered to clean bathrooms to serve the community,” said Brincat. “This was the inspiration for our idea.”
The concept mentioned in the book combined with the story of Apostle John put the entire plan into action, Sawey said.
Brincat said the other goal of the cleaning is to serve the community.
“ECF has been growing larger recently, so we felt we needed to start having a larger presence on campus and to start giving back more,” said Brincat.
Freshman film major Dan Gebhart plans on signing up to have his bathroom cleaned by the ECF.
“I didn’t really know much about the Christians here,” said Gebhart. “They are kind of under the radar. But now I can see they’re proud of their faith.”
Sawey said that, of the 80 students involved in the club, 30-35 show up consistently for meetings and events. Saturday was the club’s first clean.
“Eight people showed up the first day and we cleaned a total of 15 bathrooms. Not bad,” said Sawey.
He said they hope to clean as many bathrooms as possible.
Tessa Roy, a freshman journalism major, said she had her Little Building suite bathroom cleaned on Saturday. Her suitemate signed up, and when Roy arrived at her dorm Saturday afternoon, four ECF members were busy washing and scrubbing.
“They cleaned everything but the floor,” said Roy. “They did a very good job and left it smelling like lavender Febreze.”
Roy also said she was grateful for the service.
“I really appreciated their help,” said Roy. “And the biggest thing for me was they thanked my suitemates and I for letting them clean. I said, ‘No, thank you for doing it!’”
Brincat said it is the hope of this program, and the ECF in general, to change a stigma she sees among religious groups at Emerson.
“Obviously, Emerson is not the most Christian campus in Boston,” said Brincat.
She said she believes the large LGBTQ population at Emerson can tend to see Christians as they are described in UnChristian, a book that inspired the program. The work describes how Christians are often perceived as “intolerant, agenda driven, homophobic, and hypocritical.”
“Some of my friends really struggled with how to talk to their gay friends because of the reputation of Christians,” she said. “We want to use this program as a way to apologize and show that not all Christians are the same.”
Gebhart said that he appreciated the ECF’s openness in practicing their faith.
“I respect the group for practicing their religion like this, and if I get a clean bathroom out of it, heck yes,” said Gebhart. “It’s really a lovely gesture.”
Brincat emphasized the program has no ulterior motive.
“We’re not going to try to convert anyone, we just want to serve.”
ECF volunteers will clean students’ suite bathrooms completely free of charge. To have their bathrooms cleaned, Emerson students may sign up on bulletin boards located on every dorm floor. They may also sign up on Fridays at the ECF table in front of the Dining Hall.
Mullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.