The conversation about how to engage young adults and college students is happening all around the diocese. Over the years, the results of these conversations have led to various campus ministries being formed.
Every Sunday night parishioners from Christ Church, Oberlin open their home for an international dinner for Oberlin College students. On average 40-50 students attend and enjoy a meal fellowship with one another. Christ Church also hires students from the college Conservatory to sing in their choir as part of their Choral Scholars program. “It is often during times during times of transitions that having someone to accompany you is important,” said the Rev. Greg Stark, curate at Christ Church, Oberlin. “Parish based college ministry can be a way to have insights into the process of transitions that might be harder to get otherwise.”
St. John’s, Youngstown hires 12 music students to sing in their choir. Once a month, the musicians are taken out for pizza to encourage fellowship and relationship building. St. John’s also partners with the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University to host events that cannot fit into the campus schedule. St. John’s works with the Veterans’ Center to provide cooking sessions that send the participants home with five meals. This academic year St. John’s was provided a grant from The Episcopal Church to host interracial dialogues that included 10 students from seven countries. Another dialogue will be held in the fall. St. John’s was one out of 24 churches across the country that was asked to participate in a study on vocation. The students were craving these conversations and have even remarked that they would come even if food was not provided. “I think every parish that is near a campus could do something. But it does take time,” said the Rev. Gayle Catinella, rector of St. John’s, Youngstown. “I think it’s more just seeing what the energy of the church is and how we can use that to make things happen...There’s a group of students on every campus that are neglected and well worth reaching out to.”
St. Timothy’s, Perrysburg has partnered with St. John’s, Bowling Green to start an unofficial campus ministry with Bowling Green State University. The ministry, Bridges, is finishing their second academic year. One aspect of Bridges is to hand out water, cookies, and fresh fruit to cars as they wait on move-in day. Bridges also hosts a meal and is followed by a roundtable discussion and ends with compline every Thursday night during the academic year. While the program was started with undergrads in mind, of the 26 regular students, many of them are graduate students that represent nine countries. “The campus ministry team has gotten so much more blessing out of this than anything else,” said the Rev. Jeff Bunke, rector of St. Timothy’s, Perrysburg. "It doesn’t have to be big. An hour or two a week can make a huge difference.”
Christ Church, Kent works with a standalone ministry, United Christian Ministries, to minister to Kent State University students. United Christian Ministries believes that the best approach is the have the programming be student led. The ministers focus on recruiting students and building relationships with them. The ministry holds a Wednesday night fellowship meeting every week, has a women’s service sorority (Kappa Phi), holds various interfaith projects, and offers an alternative spring break trip every year. The alternative spring break trip is open to all students and United Christian Ministries offers scholarships. This year’s alternative spring breaks gave the opportunity for 98 students to travel to various locations that included New Orleans, New York, and the Dominican Republic. United Christian Ministries is the only Christian ministry that is gender-equal and LGBTQ inclusive ministry on campus.