Thinking Christians, the Episcopal Campus Ministry at St. John’s, funded by the Diocese of Ohio, has taken various forms over the years. We have a small, steady number of students who participate in our pizza suppers, outreach events, connections with various departments at Youngstown State University, and sing in our choir. We also partner with other campus ministries to offer large scale events throughout the year.
Last spring we began to reach out to student veterans. There is a newly built veteran’s center on campus, right up the street from our church. We began by offering lunches for women vets to assess their needs. They spoke about the busyness of their lives, often juggling family and work commitments along with school. They also spoke of their need for community and hopes for finding ways to get to know one another better.
For finals week in the spring semester 2016, we sponsored a lunchtime cook out for students, and again asked what they hoped for and how we might serve them. One thing we realized was that this new facility with a beautiful kitchen had nothing in its drawers or cupboards. So this past summer, one of our parish members, who is also a vet, organized a kitchen shower in our parish, collecting 5 boxes of utensils, crock pots, towels and other kitchen items. The student vets were very grateful.
As I met with the coordinator, Maj. Rick Williams (ret.), and talked about how to build fellowship and assist hardworking students, an idea started to grow. St. John’s will offer 10 students a month the chance to meet in our kitchen for a few hours and do some cooking. The recipes will be simple and easy to prepare, and each person will take home what they cook, up to 5 meals. They can freeze these meals and use them when life becomes too busy to cook for their families.
Rick suggested he send this idea out to students to see if they would be interested, and we received a positive response. Some said they didn’t need the food but would come help cook. We also asked them good dates and times, and other practical questions to make this opportunity as accessible as possible. Students will sign up at the veteran’s center and then meet at St. John’s. We are busy developing menus and grocery lists.
Veteran students come in all ages and have a variety of experiences. We hope to give them a chance to share their hopes and dreams, their traumas and their cares, in a meaningful and supportive way, while also providing practical support. St John’s is working to build conversations that promote healthy community. We pray that this effort will be an opportunity to speak about faith and act on our faith, reaching out to those who have served our country.
Submitted by The Rev. Gayle Catinella, Rector, St. John’s, Youngstown
Members of this network have been recognized by the Episcopal Church as doing exceptional work, and that recognition has come in the way of grants. In 2014 the following grants were given:
Distinguished Leadership: The Rev. Jonathan Melton, Chaplain, St. Francis House, University of Wisconsin, Madison
The award for Distinguished Leadership recognizes a campus minister who is “leading the field, showing exemplary work,” Angell explained. “The Rev. Jonathan Melton has made incredible strides in re-establishing a strong ministry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His impressive use of social media is coupled with a knack for community building that is helping college students connect with The Episcopal Church.”
Two Province V campus ministries received program funding this year from the grants given by the Young Adult and Campus Ministry desk: The Chapel of St. John the Divine at the University of Illinois (Diocese of Springfield) and Canterbury at Michigan Tech (Diocese of Northern Michigan).
Prov V campus ministers attend an annual national-level meeting, an annual provincial meeting, and offer an annual province-wide gathering for students and young adults. Students in Province V are also encouraged to attend national level student and young adult events. Costs for these events include travel, lodging, meals, and programming of various sorts especially guest speakers and associated expenses. In addition, the campus ministers participate in a quarterly telephone conference, no costs associated.
The first one is a delighted bunch of folks after a successful afternoon on the town event in which the Canterbury House welcomed freshmen by serving them delicious chicken and veggie wraps. We take this opportunity every year to showcase our hospitality and greet the new students into our beautiful community.
The second picture is from "Friends without Borders" meeting, which hosts our elderly friends from Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly. Seen in the photograph is a mix of young and elderly folks engaged in a typical inter-generational conversation.
[Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly is a national network of non-profit volunteer-based organizations committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. We offer to people of goodwill the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and celebration of life.]
This network exists to support and encourage the work of all who provide or participate in Episcopal campus ministry in Province V in their variety of contexts, and to offer meaningful networking opportunities to campus ministers and their students.
Campus Ministries functions very much like mission outposts in “foreign” territories. Their presence – whether as a freestanding congregation with a building and a full-time staff person, or as a lay-led student organization, or as a welcoming parish – is meant to proclaim the Gospel in ways that are consonant with the particular campus context. In a time when the message of God’s Good News in Christ is often twisted, limited, and perverted, we offer place of radical welcome (Mark 1), a space for faith and vocational discernment (Mark 2), and resources to practice the concrete living out of God’s call to each of us (Marks 3, 4 and 5).
Given that campus ministries exist in a context focused (almost) exclusively on the educational process – instilling disciplined and specialized habits of thought, teaching both general and specific skills, imparting knowledge – we naturally focus on formation (one of the Province’s particular interests for 2016). The young adults who participate in our campus ministries leave more informed about the Christian faith, yes, and also about the Anglican tradition, but also able to engage in mature, nuanced ecumenical and interfaith conversations, something our culture (and our world) desperately needs. Many young adults discern a call to ordained ministry in their time at college and through their participation in camps ministry. The campus ministries provide not just a space for discernment, but begin the formation process that will shape clergy with a lively, committed faith and sense of passionate and creative mission.
The network of chaplains and young adult and campus ministers which this grant would help support meets together every fall, and is in regular communication with each other throughout the year through regular conference calls and the sharing of resources. We facilitate the building of relationships among our students and other young adults through our annual retreat, and helping them to make connections when the leave our campuses and move on. Through this network we share resources, track trends, build advocacy movements, and provide mutual support in the work that is constantly shifting – and is an important predictor of future cultural trends.