This morning marks the beginning of a new campus ministry endeavor. This is now my 8th academic year as a campus minister. I served in campus ministry as a student, as well, so I’ve been doing this work at Geneva College for over a decade in one form or another. I started it as a Pentecostal who was attending a reformed charismatic congregation, and now continue as a priest in the Church, in the Anglican tradition. There’s a lot of change and adjustment and healing that has occurred in that decade.
One of the fascinating elements of the Anglican tradition is the parish system. There are boundaries and responsibilities that the local church and its clergy have for particular geographical areas. John Wesley and the others of the Anglican clergy working with him got in trouble with several bishops because of the boundary crossing he did in dioceses and parishes alike. But the parish model is a good thing–and the sense of responsibility for ministry that it encourages tends toward the overall health of the Church and congregations.
Campuses occupy an interesting place in that. Historically, universities had their own assigned clergy, and they were not attached to the local parish. Higher education has its traditional notions of its autonomy and it isn’t likely to release that anytime soon. So even in America, even in a day of non-sectarian schools and the emergence of the parachurch, the college campus will brook no outside assignment.
So, I’m a priest in the parish of Ambridge, in the diocese of Pittsburgh. I’m also a campus minister with the Coalition for Christian Outreach, assigned to Geneva College. There’s a local Anglican parish with its own clergy and leadership who have responsibility for ministry in Beaver Falls. So, in bridging these, I have a responsibility for ministry on the campus, and to connect students with the local parish, so far as it is possible. Despite the oddities of organizational boundaries, what we are united by is a common love for Jesus Christ and His gospel of grace. We share a common desire to see students liberated by His absurd love. And we have each been given a place to speak, to honor Christ, and to hear and pray with the community of the campus in our own roles–one as the parish, one as the itinerant. God bless us all, and let us with one voice offer God the praise through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with Him and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.