Katie Knapp engages with faith

Katie+Knapp%2C+Spiritual+Foundation+Coordinator+at+Westmont

Noah Nims

Katie Knapp, Spiritual Foundation Coordinator at Westmont

Lexi McWilliams , Features Editor

Although there are many aspects of Westmont that make it special, one of its highlights is the hiring of student Spiritual Formation Coordinators (SFC). One experienced SFC, Katie Knapp, is a third-year religious studies (RS) and environmental science student. Knapp, along with several other SFCs, are talented volunteers who provide unseen support to the student body.

As a first-year, Knapp knew she wanted to be an RS major. Knapp was raised in Santa Cruz, California, where she learned from both the Catholic and Protestant traditions. Her grandparents and her dad are not Catholic, but her family began attending mass at a Catholic church when Knapp was young. Knapp says that the reason for the change was that her “mom had a huge passion for teaching Bible studies. The church we were at previously did not allow her to teach Bible studies because she’s a woman, but the Catholic church let her.” 

However, Knapp attended a non-denominational church for youth groups, so she continued to grow with influences from multiple denominations. Knapp describes how she views the denominations saying, “I love the way the traditions supplement each other. God is definitely present in both, and I’m just following God and his presence.”

When it was time for her to attend college Knapp says, “I knew I wanted to study religion at a Christian college because I could be confident that professors cared and thought deeply about the faith.” Knapp ultimately chose Westmont because of the “ … willingness of the faculty to ask big questions and challenge typical interpretations of scripture. They explore ways the church could be better and that excited me.” 

Knapp became an SFC during her second year at Westmont because she wanted to be a companion to people on campus. Knapp says, “I enjoy engaging in faith on the intersection of mental health. I wanted to make myself present to people and be a companion to people.” 

Since being at Westmont, Knapp says, “seeing a lot of people come together on campus with different backgrounds and faith experiences strengthens my faith. The fact that we can come together, worship together, talk about God and have disagreements but still live in community and love each other. That shows me how powerful the spirit is.”

Knapp has realized that talking to people who are struggling can be very draining, but also it is very rewarding. She says, “I have become a big fan of running away to the beach and taking a solo walk or putting some space between myself and what I’m doing. Enjoying that solitude has been really helpful.”

Knapp has several goals for herself as an SFC this year saying, “One thing we’ve tried to address this year is making ourselves more visible. People don’t really know that we’re here. I am also worried about the perception that we are people who don’t really know much about the Bible and will just quote verses at you. That’s not at all who we are.” 

After graduation, Knapp hopes to become a professor or work in pastoral ministry. No matter what her path is, Knapp says, “I am definitely going to keep learning.”

There are two SFCs in every hall, and they are all a part of the program to help students through tough times. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the SFCs in your hall!

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