Campus ministry can provide vital insights for United Methodists in interpreting and living their mission and ministry in a rapidly changing world – and a new electronic book from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry explores that role with six essays from campus ministers, chaplains, theologians, historians, and agency staff.
The Promise of Campus Ministry: Theological Explorations, available for free downloading at www.gbhem.org, resulted from a consultation on campus ministry hosted by GBHEM in 2009.
"Our hope is that people will use the publication as a study guide and/or a resource for reflection on the theological foundations of campus ministry. I think it's a good model for recognizing that the ministry we do on college and university campuses is not merely programmatic, but grows out of a calling from God framed in the Wesleyan tradition," said the Rev. Bridgette Young, assistant general secretary for Campus Ministry and College Chaplaincy and one of the book's editors. "The chapters, each of which contains an essay and response, may be taken together as a full book, or separately, based on the reader's interest in a particular topic."
Young said the book will be helpful for campus ministers, chaplains, annual conference Boards of Higher Education and Campus Ministry and Wesley Foundation Boards of directors.
"It can also be a great opportunity for bishops and their cabinets to get a sense of the ministry happening on campus and the issues faced there. We included questions for reflection to help spur discussion about the current state of campus ministry in our denomination and opportunities for providing greater institutional support of that ministry," Young said.
Hendrik Pieterse, GBHEM's director of Scholarly Research and Book Editor, said theological reflection on campus ministry can be a crucial catalyst in illuminating and clarifying key dimensions of the character, scope, and form of faithful mission and ministry today.
"As such, campus ministry functions as a barometer of the encounter of faith and culture, church and world, higher education and ministry – often experiencing and wrestling with emerging questions, shifts, and challenges first – before those questions and challenges are on the radar of the rest of the church," said Pieterse, the book's other editor.
Pieterse said such a conversation could stimulate transformation of both the church and campus.
The six essays explore such topics as campus ministry as a mission frontier, search for a holistic voice, and faith on campus, and campus ministry and leadership development.
The opening essay, by Russell Richey, the William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Church History at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, examines campus ministry in a historical perspective.