Minister reaches out to campus

The Daily Cardinal/April 29, 1997
By Jenny Bushnell

Jeff Mannel always wanted to work in a career where he could help people.

Mannel fulfilled that wish in his duties as a minister for the International Churches of Christ, a group that has been called a cult by several magazines, newspapers and television shows. Mannel is leading efforts to start a Madison branch of the ICC and has been recruiting members on and around the UW-Madison campus.

Although Mannel said some solicitors for the Madison branch have often been turned down, none of the potential recruits have turned violent. "People aren't interested, and they just walk away," Mannel said.

Mannel said the main belief of the ICC is simple. "We want to live as much as we possibly can by the Scriptures," he said. Mannel said he grew up in Central Illinois with a religious background. When he was in third grade, his Lutheran family became involved in the ICC.

He was hesitant to describe what differentiates the Lutheran church from the ICC, fearing that he would offend someone. "My whole goal is not to alienate anybody," he said.

However, Mannel said most Lutheran churches are more traditional than the ICC. "One of the basic [differences] is ... [the ICC] is not quite as traditional," he said. "Our whole goal is to model after the first century church."

When he was in high school, Mannel knew he wanted to be in the ministry full-time because he admired people who worked in the profession. Mannel moved on to Northeastern Illinois University and obtained a degree in television broadcasting. Mannel said ministers in the ICC must have training, but there is no formal schooling process required. "It's a lot of on-the-job training," he said.

Associate Dean of Students Roger Howard said he will meet with Mannel Tuesday. Howard said the main goal of the meeting is to ask questions and find out how the group's activity will affect students. "I want to know what their plans are ... and what happens with students that participate in the group -- what are they asked to do about school and friends and family," he said.

Howard also said the ICC made the first move in arranging for a meeting, and it is commonplace for any new group on campus to visit the dean's office. "[They want] to make sure we're aware of what's going on. It's not unusual for [someone] to stop in to say hello and ask if we have any questions," he said.

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