Winter/Spring 2017 Update- Everything Else

Campus ministry, as you might imagine, is mostly focused on students and what happens on campus. However there are other things that happen and here is the update on those “other” things.

There are other regular and one off meetings and events that occurred over the semester.  

I met weekly to talk and coordinate with other campus ministers about shared projects at GRCC, KCAD, and GVSU. I attended an evening service and supper at LaGrave CRC to support one of my colleagues and to talk informally with people about the Listening Post.

I am the membership secretary of the National Campus Ministry Association and thus part of the coordinating committee. In addition to maintaining the membership list and mailing membership gifts, I also am in charge of maintaining our job posting sites (Google group, website, Facebook and Twitter).  I am also part of the organizing committee for our national conference. The conference will be July 26-28 at Illiff School of Theology in Denver with the theme “Campus Ministry in difficult times”

My work also involves visiting local congregations.

I taught adult education classes at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church ( on atonement) and preached there. Thank you for inviting me, FHPC!

I led a class at Westminster Presbyterian Church (my home church) on Transgender persons and the Church.

I did Listening Post “Minute for Mission” at Eastminster Presbyterian Church and North Park Presbyterian Church.

Going to visit area churches and to tell them about campus ministry is a great joy for me.

I also regularly attend the meetings of the Presbytery of Lake Michigan. This is an opportunity to connect with pastors and elders from PCUSA churches in west Michigan. As well as reconnect with other campus ministers in the presbytery.

I attended Interfaith Advisor luncheons at GVSU.  At these luncheons people (administration and faith based organization advisers)  have the opportunity to talk about what’s happening on campus.

I am a non voting ecumenical  member of the Wesley Fellowship Board at GVSU.

There is an Interfaith Prayer and Meditation room at GRCC now. And I was able to be part of that process.

Continuing education is an ongoing process. There is always something new to learn or skills to improve. I use online resources (Interfaith Youth Core webinars, NCMA webinars, PCUSA podcasts ( Pastoral care) and a Trans Faith Allies course), in addition to my summer reading list and attendance at the NCMA conference. I also received a certificate in Youth Mental Health first aid.

I spoke with a young man referred by his spiritual director about campus ministry. This person is in a process of discernment about a possible call to campus ministry.

I had coffee with two Young Life staff persons about GRCC students and campus life.

I worked with the True North board to develop fundraising materials and launch a fundraising campaign. If you think you might be interested in serving on our board (it’s a great bunch of people), let me know. And if you would like to donate to the ministry of True North, you may do so here. 

I maintain the True North website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as the Facebook presence at GRCC and Kendall for our collaborative site specific groups. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and you will be able to find out what’s happening as it happens.

As you can see, there is a significant amount of “off campus” work that happens. Some of it is making connections with others in campus ministry, both for mutual support and continuing education. Some of it involves making connections with the faculty, staff, and administration on campus. Without their support I cannot do my work. Some of that work is making sure that folks in congregations remember that we exist! If you are not on campus it is easy to forget that campus ministers are around and meeting with students.  Some of this work is just the administrative and management “stuff” that needs to happen for our work to continue.

One of the best things about this job, besides the students, is the variety of things I do!

 

 

Winter/Spring 2017 at Kendall College of Art and Design and GVSU

Because True North is present on three different campuses, I am sharing an overview of what happened on each campus this semester. Some events True North supports and hosts independently and some we work collaboratively with other campus ministries.

At Kendall College of Art and Design: This semester we read and discussed Quentin Schultze’s book “Here I Am” with rotating student leadership. This book is a great discussion starter for thinking about life as Christians.

There were three speakers (with lunch) this semester, Quentin Schultze and two KCF alumna, Shannon Finnazo a graphic designer and Emily Mayo a fine artist, sculptor. Both alums did a wonderful job speaking about their work and faith. Quentin Schultze skillfully invited students into conversation about the Christian life.

We also began a weekly Monday 8 am prayer meeting. This was the idea of one of our officers who also planned and led the meeting.

We had one “Random Act of Lunch” this semester. Our Random Acts of Lunch are occasions where we bring and serve lunch to students in the student commons. Anyone is welcome to sit and eat with us. Generally about 30 students will participate in these “Random Acts”. This gives our students a great opportunity to meet fellow students and perhaps to overcome some perceptions (warranted or not) about Christians and a Christian group on campus.

At GVSU: The Garden is a program with Campus Ministry @GVSU which I have the opportunity to be part of. This semester the Garden moved from a church location to the home of a seminary intern. The format was a shared meal, student led singing, a student led talk and discussion, as well as time for prayer. I enjoyed every minute of my time with these students. They are thoughtful, committed, welcoming and great fun to spend time with.

 

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People always ask about numbers, so here they are:  These are cumulative numbers.

Fall                                           Winter

Kendall student meeting    (3-12 per week) 73              (9-12 per week)             113

                 Social                                    19                                                                        20

Random Acts of Lunch              ( Three)        72                                  (One)              35

 

Garden student meeting (9-12 per week)      52           (5-12 per week)                 87

 

Winter/Spring 2017 at GRCC

Because True North is present on three different campuses, I am sharing an overview of what happened on each campus this semester. Some events True North supports and hosts independently and some we work collaboratively with other campus ministries.

At GRCC:

The Listening Post was held every week of the semester. While somewhat thin on volunteers,we have a committed and faithful group from four local congregations. (If you are interested in becoming a “Listener” just let me know!) Student participation is consistent week to week. We see new students each week, but we also have a group of “regulars” who stop by to share about their week. On any given week we may listen as students talk about their “new to them” car, child care concerns, how classes are going, racism, health concerns, and whatever else is on their heart and mind.

I continue to attend Stand Out meetings. StandOut is the LGBTQ+ club at GRCC. At one meeting a student came in a little late and said to me that he had been talking with students from a different campus ministry and told them about me and “gave them my name” (so I would know if they said something to me). Then he said, “I am grateful you come to our meetings”. At StandOut it can take time for students to feel like I am a safe person to talk to. This spring a student who has not spoken to me for two years will now say “hello” and talk to me. Building trust takes time and patience.

We held a weekly Bible study with two regular attenders. This semester we studied the Parables of Jesus using Amy Jill Levine’s book Short Stories By Jesus.

At the request of some nursing professors I continued to be present weekly in the Nursing Department. This semester I find that I have more conversations and prayers with faculty than students. I seldom speak with students while in the Nursing Department, however I have had students recognize me at other locations on campus and tell me they appreciate my presence on their floor. One nursing student would stop by the Listening Post to talk.

Students at GRCC are unlikely to attend programs. This reflects the lives of our students, they work, have families and attend school. Their schedules are packed.

However, we did offer two special programs in conjunction with another campus ministry. I hosted a “Science and Faith” discussion. One student came. He considers himself “deconverted” and told me he came to argue with Christians. We had a great, wide ranging conversation. He told me that he didn’t know there were “Christians like you” around.

We finished the academic year with our “Breakfast Boost”, coffee, bagels and muffins beginning at 7 am the Monday and Tuesday of finals week. This is a join event with another campus ministry at GRCC.

My work at GRCC tends to be more relational and one on one. My presence on campus at the Listening Post, in the Student Life Office, in the dining areas and at the meetings of other clubs gives me the opportunity to meet and connect with students.

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People alway want to know about numbers, so here they are:

 These are total student encounters.

 

                                                            Fall                                         Spring

 

Listening Post student  (6-8 per week)       64                     (7-14 per week)   122

Listening Post volunteer hours                 46                                                 39

 

GRCC Thanksgiving dinner                        7                                                       –

GRCC Breakfast Boost                           192                                                     190

Stand Out              (8-15 per week)           97                (6-13 per week)         74

Hospital visits                                               4                                                         0  

  Call,text,messenger                                  22                                                        9

Other individual meetings                        22                                                      26