h2o celebrates its 30 year anniversary

Natasha Ivery and Natasha Ivery

“h2o”, one of the largest inter-denominational churches at the University celebrated its 30 year anniversary on Nov. 8 and 9.

“So, this weekend there are a lot of activities going on,” said Bryan Wiles, pastor of h2o. “On Friday we have tons of alumni coming into town so we’re having a casual get-together at Buffalo Wild Wings, nothing too fancy. On Saturday from 1:00-3:30 p.m. we have the Perry Fieldhouse reserved for families with kids, so we have bouncy houses and snacks, may even see some Falcon Flames who met at h2o. That same evening in the ballroom, we’re having a banquet, talking about relationships and God and walking through the past 30 years. Finally, on Sunday we have our regular church service at 11 a.m. with our celebration theme. The very special part is at 5:45 p.m. We’re having a baptism with 25 students getting baptized.”

The h2o church started through a group of men and women who had a church at The Ohio State University and wanted a similar one at the University.

“They actually met on the patio outside the Union Starbucks and began making plans, making connections and talking to people,” Wiles said. “In a few months they had 40-50 students in an h2o service and the rest is basically history. Our motto is engage, inform, inspire.”

Pastor Wiles got involved with h2o at the University right after he graduated and quickly began building a new ministry.

“I began as a student at BG. I thought I would be a teacher. Some people invited me to service and I fell in love and grew in my faith as a person,” Wiles said.

h2o has different groups and various opportunities for students to get involved.

“We engage in leadership development and have 20 different h2o LifeGroups, special Bible study groups inside the res halls,” Wiles said. “We have Affinity LifeGroups for athletes and Greeks. We also have an internship program and take mission trips to places like Guatemala, Panama City and the Appalachian area.”

h2o is currently in the process of expanding its ministry to other schools.

“Right now we have h2o on different campuses in Ohio- OSU, UC, Kent, WSU…we have one at the University of Pittsburgh. We are working on opening a ministry at the University of Akron and the University of Toledo,” Wiles said. “God’s love even extends to your enemies [Toledo Rockets, jokingly]. It’s crazy to see what 30 years can do- we have 600-700 students at the University

in h2o.”

The organization may have impacted students in a positive light.

“I’ve been to a few h2o services and I love it; it strengthens my faith,” said junior Ashely Hillis.

Junior Alexandra Carter is a Lifegroup leader and active in h2o.

“I first got introduced to it a couple of years ago when I attended Kickstart,” Carter said. “I grew up in the church so not going didn’t feel right. The worship band was amazing and my best friend kept inviting me so I kept going.”

The Well, which is a six-week spiritual session to learn more about the Bible really hit her when they asked are you a fan or a follower, she said.

“That’s when I knew h2o was the place,” she said. “I’m a leader in Centennial three’s LifeGroup on Thursdays. It keeps me grounded. I have quiet times and listen to contemporary gospel music instead of Lil’ Wayne cursing. We reach out and do little acts of kindness and God’s love like coffee on the Education steps.”