Durham Inter-Collegiate Christian Union
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The Durham Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, usually known as DICCU, is a Christian Union in Durham University and is the University's most prominent student Christian organisation. It was founded in 1931, but can trace its roots back to the early 1920s.
Purpose and beliefs
The students in the Union come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but share in a common desire to "make Jesus Christ known across Durham University". DICCU is unashamedly confessional, and adopts the doctrinal basis of the UCCF, an evangelical Christian organisation to which DICCU is affiliated. The doctrinal basis contains what evangelicals perceive as the biblical foundations of Christianity, including:
- There is one God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- God is sovereign in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgement.
- The Bible, as originally given, is the inspired and infallible Word of God. It is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour.
- Since the fall, the whole of humankind is sinful and guilty, so that everyone is subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.
- The Lord Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, is fully God; he was born of a virgin; his humanity is real and sinless; he died on the cross, was raised bodily from death and is now reigning over heaven and earth.
- Sinful human beings are redeemed from the guilt, penalty and power of sin only through the sacrificial death once and for all time of their representative and substitute, Jesus Christ, the only mediator between them and God.
- Those who believe in Christ are pardoned all their sins and accepted in God’s sight only because of the righteousness of Christ credited to them; this justification is God’s act of undeserved mercy, received solely by trust in him and not by their own efforts.
- The Holy Spirit alone makes the work of Christ effective to individual sinners, enabling them to turn to God from their sin and to trust in Jesus Christ.
- The Holy Spirit lives in all those he has regenerated. He makes them increasingly Christlike in character and behaviour and gives them power for their witness in the world.
- The one holy universal church is the Body of Christ, to which all true believers belong.
- The Lord Jesus Christ will return in person, to judge everyone, to execute God’s just condemnation on those who have not repented and to receive the redeemed to eternal glory.
This is considered to be the basis of DICCU's unity, the foundations of its ministry, and the content of its message.
Weekly meetings happen in almost every college during term time. There is also a central meeting every Saturday evening, which includes Bible study, prayer and praise; and a central prayer meeting on Monday mornings. These events are aimed primarily at Christians, but people from all backgrounds are welcomed.
Lunchbars occur bi-weekly on Fridays, where a free lunch is provided, during which there is a talk on a big issue to do with Christianity and a chance to ask questions. A regular event for international students happens on Saturday afternoons. Every year there is also a high publicity Events Week in Epiphany term, during which events go on in most of the colleges and there are central lunchtime and evening talks. There is also a similar but smaller Events Week towards the end of the Summer term.
A Christmas Carol Service is held at the end of Michaelmas term in Durham Cathedral, where there are regularly more than 3000 students in attendance. This is the largest service held by the Cathedral and one of the largest gatherings of Durham students in one place at any point in the year. DICCU also hosts an Easter Carol Service in the Cathedral, and both of these services have traditional hymns accompanied by a short talk. Many other events are run throughout the year at both the central and college levels, and all of these events are aimed particularly at people who wish to find out more about Jesus and the beliefs of Christianity.
Durham is well known for its religious heritage, and in this highly religious atmosphere several attempts over past years to found Evangelical and Bible Unions died out. On 8 December 1919 one Durham man joined around 60 other students from Cambridge, Oxford and London at the Egypt General Mission Headquarters, Drayton Park for the inaugural Inter-Varsity Conference. The early 1920s saw the formation of 'Durham University Bible Union', but this did not last long. The University journals for 1922 and subsequent years show a Christian Union affiliated to the World's Student Christian Fellowship and to the Student Christian Movement, but whether the Bible Union and this movement are related is unclear.
Another attempt to found a Union was made in 1929, when two men from St John's gathered with others from their college. A Fresher from Bede, Joseph Harrison Stringer, also joined them, following a meeting with Norman Grubb over the summer. Weekly prayer meetings began, along with Bible studies held each Sunday and occasional extra meetings where outside speakers were welcomed. Over the coming terms it began to be regarded as a subsection of the aforementioned SCM, and witness to Christ's saving power and Biblical truth decreased.
In March 1931 Joseph Stringer wrote to the recently formed Inter-Varsity Fellowship (what is now known as UCCF) about a separate Union in Bede, where a number of other men were keen. He consequently attended the Inter-Varsity Conference that year, and a new Union was formed. Many were for remaining as a subsection of the SCM, but rather than a big storm there was simply an agreement to differ, with those in favour of the new Union determined to keep the saving death of Jesus and the truth of the Bible as central to their witness.
The Union struggled along for a year, at which point, following a post-dinner conversation in Hild on the topic 'spiritual certainty', around 20 women professed faith in Jesus. The men's Union quickly heard of it and joined forces with the women, and from there the Union grew rapidly.
In March of 1932 the Union arranged a weekend House Party along with the Newcastle Colleges, taking advantage of Dr. Howard Guinness' trip to the North. At this event two undergraduate students professed faith in Jesus Christ.
- UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship)
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students
- Durham Students' Union
- DICCU website
- Durham students asked not to "brush off" Jesus Christ, report on the 2011 Events Week. BBC Wear, 17 February 2011.
- Christ and the Colleges / F. D. Coggan: London, Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1934.
- Contending for the Faith: A History of the Evangelical Movement in the Universities and Colleges / Douglas Johnson: London, Inter-Varsity Press, 1979.
- From Cambridge to the world: 125 years of student witness / Oliver R. Barclay and Robert M. Horn : Leicester, Inter-Varsity Press, 2002, ISBN 0-85111-499-7.