Rooted in Purpose: Reimagining Episcopal Campus Ministry

by | Jun 22, 2023

There are over 35 colleges and universities in the geographic bounds of the Diocese of Washington. Each of these institutions are centers of learning where students, faculty, and staff seek purpose and belonging. The Episcopal Diocese of Washington wants to meet our university neighbors, provide a loving embrace, and cultivate community in which faith can be explored and nourished.

Traditionally, this sort of community was tended by an individual chaplain who was employed by the diocese or a congregation to minister to students on campuses. This model of Episcopal chaplaincy is no longer in place at most universities within the diocese. Parishes and worshiping communities geographically close to college campuses have sought to fill the gap and minister to their university neighbors. The diocese has also sought to form creative partnerships with ecumenical partners like our neighbors at the Lutheran Humble Walk ministry at the University of Maryland, in order to support Episcopal students. These types of ministry present both blessings and unique challenges.

Given the challenges and great potential for meaningful ministry that colleges and universities possess, we are eager to discern how we might best spiritually support our university neighbors. To this end, we are excited to announce our partnership with The Vinery to reimagine how we do campus ministry. The Vinery’s mission is to awaken Faith and Flourishing at the intersection of Church and University through deep listening and purposeful design. Their vision is to be an incubator for thriving congregations who are ministering faithfully and effectively with young adults and members of nearby universities and supporting vibrant local communities. Working with The Vinery, we hope to refocus our efforts on campus ministry and discern a life-giving way forward to serve our university neighbors.

The first step in our partnership with The Vinery is to complete a survey to provide our new partners with information about our collective experience of campus ministry in the diocese. This brief survey has been shared with key leaders in the diocese to gather their feedback. Additionally, we welcome all people to complete the survey.

Help us, and our Vinery partners, have a better understanding of your experience of, and hope for, campus ministry throughout the diocese. Complete the survey by July 21.

The second step in our partnership with The Vinery is for diocesan and parish leaders to meet for an all-day, in-person, Vinery facilitated workshop in early September at the University of Maryland. This workshop will prompt us to ask ourselves how we can cultivate relationships with our university neighbors and enable greater mutual thriving. If you are passionate or curious about campus ministry and believe you (and/or your community) have gifts to offer this discussion, complete this form and inform us of your interest. We’ll see what energy the workshop generates and discern next steps.

We believe that God calls us to awaken Christian faith and flourishing. We have a vital role to play in supporting our university neighbors in this way. And they have gifts to offer us. I hope that you will consider joining the conversation as we discern next steps for campus ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

For more information, contact the Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell, Missioner for Faith Formation and Development.