The week prior to the beginning of the school year, the Chaplains for ECM (John Ball, Nathan Beall and myself) met with the President, Dean of Students, various folks of the administration and the leaders of other Campus Ministries, including the Hillel Group, InterVarsity and the Newman Society. Our goal in this meeting was to meet each other and share our plans for ministry for the new year. We also sought ways to collaborate and support each other, which hopefully will help in cultivating a stronger presence on campus for ministry.
The day before classes started, John and I attended Convocation, where we were able to make a pitch to new students and some returning. John was the speaker. That was helpful so that at least we were able to present ourselves to a large number of students so that they could identify us later.
Friday, we had prepared giveaways to students for the Club Fair. We asked the supporting local Episcopal parishes to donate cookies, which we placed in cups with our logo. We also put magnets and our postcards in the cups. At first, the students seemed a little shy to come and speak with us, but after some changing in strategy (I basically got out in front and started making conversation with students) we began getting a decent email list together and, overall, students showed interest. As of right now, we have 30 students on our email list, including two Muslims. We truly welcome all! I think our strategy for next year should include more interest in our table for students, as well as including more student participation in pushing our ministry. This is the first year for ECM at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, so a lot of our experience has been trial and error based on Trinity’s work with the campus.
Our first service was Sunday. There were a few students who attended the 10:30am service at Trinity. There were only a few students who attended the 6:00pm service, but the quality of conversation and camaraderie was wonderful! We even had a few students stick around after dinner to help clean up. Two of the students had never attended an Episcopal service before. We hope to have more students in the weeks to come. Our goal here is to build relationships with students and support them on their journey. While numbers are encouraged, it is ultimately the level of conversation, discernment, and life transformation that are the most important to this ministry.