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For campus ministry, summer is a 'blessing'

 
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12:00 P.M. EST May 18, 2010 | NASHVILLE (UMNS)

Religious campus ministry programs tend to slow down to “vacation mode” in the summer.  A 2005 UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.
Religious campus ministry programs tend to slow down to “vacation mode” in the summer. A 2005 UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.
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What happens to campus ministry when the students go on summer break?

“There is time for vacation and Sabbath – praise God!” jokes the Rev. Bridgette Young, director for Campus Ministry and College Chaplaincy at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

After the rush of busy autumn, winter and spring semesters, summer can feel like a blessing.

“It’s like a bear to a cave,” said the Rev. Michael McCord, who works with Young as a director in the campus ministry section. McCord joined the Nashville, Tenn., staff two weeks ago and is starting to realize how different his schedule will be.

“I am going to miss the academic calendar – this idea of working hard and resting hard,” he said. “At the end of spring semester, you are just at the end. You say your goodbyes, and you start to ready yourself for the new beginning.”

While some religious campus ministry programs continue during the summer, the programs might turn into a once-a-week meal and Bible study, Young said.

While she was a campus minister at the Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech University, Young used the summer to visit local churches and alumni to share the importance of campus ministry and request their support.

Bridgette Young
Bridgette Young

It is also a great time to visit with administrators and professors who have a little more time in the summer too, she said.

Read books, take continuing education courses, attend conferences, McCord said. “Enjoy the lightness of it because as soon as freshmen move in, your life turns upside down.”

Students at home

When they leave the college campus, students usually go back home but not necessarily back to church.

While life on the college campus may be slower, life back at home may be full of distractions, writes the Rev. Mike Holly, pastor to students at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in a blog for ymtoday.com.

Many students work, take extra college courses or struggle with a grueling internship, he said. “They may not be as interested in staying connected to the church as to the friends from their youth group and their leaders.”

Michael McCord
Michael McCord

Holly said Canterbury gave up on weekly programming for college students after “sinking a thousand dollars into a summer worship leader and begging students to attend.”

The summer worship program failed because rather than asking the students what they wanted, the church tried to create programming and then convince them they needed it, he said.

“Some of our students are deeply embedded in campus ministries other than Wesley Foundations,” he said. “We find that giving them outlets to discuss the differences between denominational stances is helpful for them over the summer.”

*Gilbert is a writer of 18-34 content at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.
 
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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