Churches that are on campus or adjacent to a college or university will gather in October to share ideas and best practices for such congregations through the University Church Network.
The network is an emerging peer-based network of such churches. While not officially part of the university or college, the school often plays a central role in congregational identity, presenting unique opportunities and challenges.
The Oct. 3-5 gathering is being hosted by the Rev. M. Nathan Mattox, pastor of University United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event will take place at the church, located on the campus of the University of Tulsa. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the General Board of Discipleship are providing staff and office support for development of the network.
"As United Methodists, we value the connection between ministry and education. Those churches that are just adjacent to major universities have opportunities and challenges that are unique because of their proximity to these campuses. This network will provide a connecting point for the sharing of ideas and best practices for these important ministries," said the Rev. Michael McCord, GBHEM's director of Campus Ministry Resources and Training.
Deb Smith, GBOD's director of Best Practices, Leadership Ministries, said the goal is to provide a setting in which leaders in these congregations can learn from one another.
"The relationships formed through a peer-learning event provide a network of colleagues who understand the university church context and can be called upon for advice and feedback," Smith said.
While the meeting is aimed at pastors of churches that are on or adjacent to a college or university, pastors are urged to bring lay and clergy staff.
"If the nearby university sometimes covets the property where your church is located, your prayer list includes moving-in day and finals week, the trustee chair has a PhD in physics, parents' weekend and commencement are listed on the church calendar, and life seems just a little better when the students are back – then you will find kindred spirits and like-minded souls at this event," said Mattox.
There will be some structured introductions to help participants learn about one another, as well as a few presentations by participants on particular areas of interest.
The registration fee is $60 per person and covers snacks, event materials and supplies, and event administrative costs incurred by the host church. Participants are responsible for transportation to and from the event, housing, and meal costs.
To suggest pastors or church staff who should be invited, or if you have additional questions, contact Betsey Heavner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877.899.2780, Ext. 7295, or Deb Smith at email@example.com or 877.899.2780, Ext. 7135.