Last night, as a member of our Diocesan College Ministry Commission, I visited Canterbury at William & Mary. We had some time with both the students involved in the Episcopal Campus ministry and with the Campus Minister. It is a vibrant ministry, with a lot of passion and enthusiasm around service, worship, and discipleship. Canterbury is a place where they can ask questions of their faith, become leaders, serve their community, and forge deep friendships. They are doing the work began in their baptism, continued in their confirmation, and now affirmed as adults.
As I listened to the students and Campus Minister, I was flooded with a host of memories from my own experience in Campus Ministry at Duke. Although I was involved in the Wesley Fellowship, the models are quite similar. Wesley was the place where I came into my own faith, where I engaged my intellect in partnership with professors at the Divinity School, where I first discovered the power of mission trips, and ultimately, where I began to feel a sense of call to ordained ministry. Wesley created disciples – encouraging us to find a local church community, fostering a personal spirituality, developing deep Christian friendships, and exploring the implications of my faith. Most of my friends from Wesley took a year or more to volunteer or live in intentional Christian community. Today, most of the alumni I know are clergy, lay leaders, non-profit workers, social services providers, and are raising up a new generation of faithful disciples.
When I was in college, I thought Wesley was doing something revolutionary. The community certainly articulated its faith a little differently than my home churches had. But more than that, we created an intimate, trusting, challenging space that fed me and informed my life path. As I thought about that experience and the experience of the Canterbury students at Williams & Mary, campus ministry does exactly what Church does – or should do. We are forming people into faithful disciples, who want to learn and grow in their faith, who want to find ways to serve God and live out their baptismal covenant, who want to develop the deep bonds of Christian community, and who want to have some fun while they are at it!
As a pastor, I often get caught up in the programmatic and administrative work of Church. I want to create a community that offers the things necessary to produce faithful disciples. What last night reminded me of is that I need to remember to look around and enjoy what we are creating too. If you have been looking for a community that can help you find meaning and purpose, can help you grow in unexpected ways, can help you connect with others on the spiritual journey, and can embolden you to live a life full of the love of Christ, come join us at Hickory Neck. And if you are already a member, invite a friend into this rich experience. There is good news to share!