Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. - Psalm 16:1
Who Can Join?
Refuge is open only to Wheaton undergraduate students who self-identify in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, etc…
Refuge exists to provide opportunities for community building through dialogue, activities, and resource-sharing among Wheaton College undergraduate students personally navigating same-sex sexuality and/or gender identity.
Refuge seeks to be a caring and social group through consistent weekly meetings and activities that foster community, belonging, and acceptance.
Q. What is Refuge?
A. Refuge is a supportive community group for undergraduate students who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning and may be navigating same-sex sexuality. Refuge seeks to provide opportunities for community building and resource-sharing for such students.
Q. Who leads Refuge?
A. Refuge is led by a cabinet of student leaders elected by their peers. They are advised directly by the Vice President for Student Development and meet regularly. The cabinet also has access to a faculty resource person. Refuge is structured under the Student Wellness team within the Student Development division.
Q. Why does Wheaton College sponsor Refuge?
A. The College seeks to be a community that is hospitable to all members of our campus community. Sadly, some students feel marginalized or unwelcome due to experiences related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Campus leaders also observed a growing need to provide resources related to same-sex sexuality, gender identity, and Christian faith. An extensive body of research indicates that students who self-identify across a sexuality and gender spectrum may experience distress at higher rates than students who self-identify as heterosexual. We value all of our students and take these risks seriously. Research shows that a campus community group can contribute to student safety and well-being, including for students who are not at risk but are seeking a supportive community with peers who have similar life experiences.
Q. What is the history of Refuge?
A. During the 2012-13 academic year, the Dean of Student Care and Services hosted informal gatherings with students who requested support related to same sex sexuality. Their informal gatherings sought to honor our covenantal commitments to love others well and hold fast to biblical perspectives on human sexuality.
Refuge was formally organized as a community group in January 2013 under the Student Development Division through a collaboration between Wheaton College students and administration, with the Dean of Student Care and Services as the advisor. Refuge was not organized as a therapy group, student club, advocacy group, or gay-straight alliance.
It was reorganized under the Chaplain’s Office in the spring of 2014, where it remained until the spring semester of 2018.
In 2019 Refuge was restructured under Student Wellness. The Chaplain’s Office continues as a key resource for students seeking to individually or corporately develop their faith in light of their sexual attractions and gender identity.
Q. Is Refuge biblically faithful?
A. The uniting feature of Wheaton students is a personal testimony of willing surrender to Jesus Christ as Savior, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Lord. Thus, there is an expectation that student groups will be formed and led by students who desire to be biblically faithful. All student groups are held to the same expectation of biblical faithfulness in their structure, purpose, and activities. If/when concerns arise that relate to the behavior of an individual student within a student group or that relate to the activities of a student group as a whole, the concerns are addressed in a spirit of listening and learning; if the concerns are validated, the College takes corrective action with the hope of redemption and change.
Q. What other campus resources are available to students who are active in Refuge?
A. The Associate Minister for Sexuality in the Chaplain’s Office is available to meet confidentially with students and organizes campus programming around topics related to sexuality, including a small group Bible study and small group book discussion related to same-sex sexuality and gender identity. The Student Chaplain for Sexuality is also available for peer support and prayer.
The Director of Student Care Services is available to meet with students who want/need coordinated care from multiple offices on and/or off campus, as well as with students who complete a CARES Student Care Services resource request form on the Wheaton College Portal:
Undergraduate Student Government consists of students elected by their peers to serve as advocates on behalf of student needs with College leaders.
Wheaton College Counseling Center offers confidential individual and group counseling, workshops, and online resources.
Wheaton College Student Health Services offers confidential primary medical care and referral to off campus specialists.
To learn more, see Wheaton College's Convictions Regarding Human Sexuality.
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Refuge participants should seek to practice hospitality (Romans 12:13; 15:7) toward one another because God's love and welcome to us in Christ Jesus moves us to love and welcome each other (1 John 4:19). Part of this welcome includes earnest respect, insistent protection, and self-sacrificing love toward one another, given the dignity of every person as made in the image of God.
For more information
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and a Refuge student leader will confidentially follow up with you.
To learn more about the commitments and structure of Refuge, please read the Refuge Shared Agreement (PDF). Each new member will have the opportunity to review the Refuge Shared Agreement with a Cabinet member.