10/30/2006

The Students Give Me Hope

All this Anglican Communion snarl and growl gets me down sometimes. About the time it gets depressing something happens that restores my soul. When it happens I consider it a gift of God.

So time to give thanks.


This last weekend (October 27-29) I was at the Third Province Student / Chaplain’s conference, held in Romney, West Virginia. About 40 students and a hand full of Chaplains gathered around the topic, “The Church, whose line is it?” Bible Study, Workshops and a General presentation (my job), all were meant to help bring forward conversation on living in faith as a young adult. I'm sure as hell not one, but I got to hang out with them.

A lot got packed in to about thirty hours. For me, the most hopeful thing was hearing some of the students talk about the search for spiritual meaning in the religious supermarket. There were some of them willing to be ecumenical and interfaith as part of that exploration, knowing that by doing so they would be considered poor religious consumers, since it would look as if they didn’t know what they wanted to buy into. They were willing to continue the spiritually demanding vocation that they have in the Episcopal Church and had some sense that it wasn’t the journey for everyone, but it was for them. They came wanting to find fellow travelers, and they found them. And so did I.

In my ministry I have had the good fortune to take several hits on Campus Ministry: for nine years in the late 60’s and into the 70’s I did it full time. And in the mid 80’s I was Coordinator for Ministry in Higher Education at the Church Center. And then, about the time I figured that was that, I got to mentor a chaplain for a year. Each return has been a blessing, and as time goes by each return has made me realize again what a great ministry Campus Ministry is. From that merry gang of Chaplains has also come the core of the planning group for The Episcopal Majority.

Well, I’m an increasingly old fart, but as Kirt Vonnegut says, “We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

The thing is, hanging around these very bright and interesting young people makes me a younger fart. As Mr. Bob said, “Ah, but I was so much older then,I'm younger than that now.”
Remember that picture of Jesus with the Doctors in the Temple? Well, it felt a little like that, only there were a lot of Jesus types, and one balding Doctor. I listened and learned a lot.

There is Hope, and it is in the young and hopefully with the old who fart around with them.

Thanks be to God.

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