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August 1, 2003


Bishop's Corner

Church Has Mission On Campus

By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker

The mission of the church on the campus of a university or college is more urgent today than it has been for decades. Ours is a society in which many persons know nothing about the gospel of Jesus Christ and have no experience in the life and mission of the church. The first time many young adults begin to think about their spiritual life is when they are in college. Right now, there is a palpable sense of spiritual hunger being felt by the generation of young adults, as reported by Colleen Carroll in “The New Faithful.”

At this moment in history the church needs to invest in its mission on campus in order to invite young adults to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

The church’s mission on campus is also crucial in developing a new generation of lay and clergy leaders. These young adults are needed if the church is going to be able to be effective in its ministry in the 21st century. Often the place where many leaders of the church arise is in the campus ministry of the church at a university or college.

One of the items on the agenda of the Conference Table is to evaluate the campus ministry of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. The conference is being ably served by the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry under the leadership of Mrs. Jana Hart and the Rev. John Denmark, president of the board.

Working with the board, the Conference Table will conduct a review of the conference’s campus ministry, which will require visitation of the campus ministries. One issue will be how adequately and effectively these ministries are being financed. The primary objective of the review will be to establish the most effective campus ministry strategy possible in order to evangelize and nurture students as disciples of Jesus Christ and witness to the reign of God in the settings of the universities and colleges in Florida. Such a review will require an openness to try different approaches in some settings in order to fulfill the mission of the church to the schools.

The church has been involved on campus in an intentional ministry for more than 50 years. During such a long period of time there is a tendency to take things for granted. Congregations and clergy may come to view campus ministry as just another institution to be maintained rather than an urgent mission of the whole church. It would be very shortsighted to continue an attitude of complacency toward campus ministry, given the spiritual hunger of students today and the opportunity to make disciples of Jesus Christ of those who have never heard the gospel in our pluralistic society. The cause of campus ministry deserves our best investment of faith, energy and imagination.

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