Why should The Episcopal Church’s budget support Episcopal Campus Ministries? Here are some particular reasons:
The annual Episcopal Campus Ministers’ Conference is a vital opportunity for people who are engaged in campus ministry for continuing education in a highly specialized field of ministry, to exchange ideas and consider best practices, and to offer encouragement and support to one another, as well as to share creative liturgy and music. Our ministries are highly diverse in context (public universities, private colleges, campuses large and small, urban and rural, residential and commuter), in approach (including free-standing missions, parish-based campus ministries, and independent student organizations), and in staffing (full-time priests, lay chaplains, interns, volunteers and students). All of us benefit from the mutual support and encouragement that the Conference provides.
The Conference features an annual orientation for new campus ministers. There are always many new campus ministers every year – partly because campus ministry in generally underfunded, so turnover is high. The chance for new campus ministers to be in contact with those of us who have experience in the job helps them build effective boards, develop helpful fundraising practices, and move quickly to effective worship, programming, and recruiting techniques. New campus ministers need to know that they are not alone, and that they need not re-invent the wheel.
Church-wide level funding helps to maintain provincial level programming. Provincial conferences of chaplains provide an additional layer of networking and support, and annual gatherings for students help build energy for the involvement of young adults in the Church. College students who are considering vocations to ordained ministry are especially inclined to attend such gatherings, which not only affords mutual support but also an opportunity to engage with chaplains from other ministries and encounter different communities. Networking at provincial gatherings also encourages young adult participation in General Convention.
In the current proposed triennial budget how will staffing and resources for church-wide and provincial level conferences, networking, training, and support continue to be available?
Reid Hamilton is a Campus Minister at the University of Michigan and active in the Province V Campus Ministry Network.