Thursday, August 13, 2015

Please Celebrate Campus Ministry Sunday!

Episcopal Letter by Bishop Peggy Johnson for Campus Ministry Sunday

Please celebrate Campus Ministry Sunday on August 23 or before the end of September.  And please give generously to the special offering to support our outreach to college students in Eastern PA.

I have served on all sides of the equation that adds up to life-changing campus or collegiate ministry: as a student, a pastor, a campus minister and a supportive bishop.  And I can assure you that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  All of these roles together produce results that are indeed "Life-changing, Church-changing and World-changing."

My student experiences at Lebanon Valley College awakened me to my call to ministry and prepared me for discipleship and leadership in the church, as I sought to become a true change agent in service to Christ.  When I became the pastor of Christ UM Church of the Deaf in Baltimore, and campus minister at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and then a bishop in this wonderful church of ours, that preparation resonated in me each step of the way.

I saw first-hand how campus ministry at Gallaudet, a school primarily for the Deaf, was instrumental in developing principled leadership, one of the four mission foci of our church today.  And I saw how the fruit of that ministry benefitted not only students but also the church I served through their energetic, creative leadership.  That is why I am deeply committed to supporting campus ministry efforts and relationships in our conference and why I urge you to join me in that commitment.

I spoke recently during a Communion service at a national gathering of United Methodist campus ministers in Washington, DC, including some from our area.  I got to meet and observe some spectacular  leaders from around the country who are making shock waves across the church, as they help shape principled leaders and create new places for new people in our UM Connection.

I was impressed with the breadth and scope of campus ministries happening around the country.  They are reaching young adults that few of our churches are able to attract.  But they are all interested in having more connections with welcoming, supportive local churches. 

That interest is strong among campus ministers in our area, including the ones who relate to our Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry.  We urge you to please try to reach out to campus ministers near--and not so near--your church, so together you can find ways to engage in ministry with gifted, called young people who can lead our church and our society into a future with hope. 

I also urge you to celebrate Campus Ministry Sunday on August 23 or sometime before the end of September.  Invite campus ministers or college students to speak or play a meaningful role in your celebration.  And then please receive the conference-wide offering that can support your outreach to college students and also the efforts of campus ministries affiliated with our conference.  There are four now; but we fully expect to increase that number.

Campus ministry needs the local church.  And more than they know, local churches need campus ministry.  Our future depends on it.  Please give generously to support campus ministries in Eastern PA. Thank you!

PS: Please be sure to read the informative Campus Ministry Sunday article we posted on the conference Website today, and also download and use the Campus Ministry Sunday flyer.

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