After years of downsizings and organizational changes, the office of Collegiate Ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is back — and a newly assembled task force is working to discern the state and future of collegiate ministry within the church.
The 219th General Assembly (2010) re-established the office and called for a strategy for collegiate ministry to be presented to the 220th GA (2012).
To that end, a task force will study, consult and highlight the need for collegiate ministry while working to come to an understanding of the state of the PC(USA)’s collegiate ministries.
The 10-member task force includes campus chaplains, campus pastors and congregationally connected leaders. Because of meeting times, no college students are on the task force. Also, those in collegiate ministry should have their finger on the pulse of college students’ needs, said Adrian McMullen, associate for the office of Collegiate Ministries.
The task force will focus on young adults enrolled in college, not young adults in general.
The task force will have its first meeting this fall. Over the course of their work, members will consult with other denominations about how they approach collegiate ministry.
“Our ministry to and with college students is kind of in crisis,” McMullen said. “Sadly, we need to catch up.”
McMullen is the only staff within the office, which is unusual among denominations, he said. Many in the church might assume that collegiate ministries are going smoothly, but that hasn’t been the case for a few decades. One of the roles of the task force will be to highlight that need.
Because of the wide variety of needs, geography and history, coming up with a single program would be impractical. Instead, the task force hopes to come up with a vision and an understanding of the state of affairs of the PC(USA)’s collegiate ministries.
Despite the many changes within the office, McMullen said he has hope for the future of collegiate ministries. GA 219 was full of a good, positive buzz around the ministry, and he’s hopeful that it will continue.
“People who love the church get it,” he said.
Having college students involved in the life of the church is mutually beneficial, McMullen said. Young adults can bring a great sense of optimism to leaders and congregations, and older people can be models of steadiness and faithfulness.
“Whenever you’re missing an age group of any sort, it feels like an incompleteness,” he said.
The members of the task force:
Rev. Dr. Jeffery Francis: Sharp Chaplain, University of Tulsa; Tulsa, Okla.
Rev. James Goodlet: Associate Pastor for Campus Ministries, First Presbyterian Church; Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Rev. Ashley Griffith: Pastor, New Hope Presbytery; Raleigh, N.C.
Jamie Lied: Leadership Development Coordinator, Annex Ministry; Boulder, Colo.
Rev. Erica Liu: Campus Pastor, Pres House; Madison, Wisc.
Rev. Jim Mohr: College Chaplain and Director of Church Relations, Westminster College; New Wilmington, Pa.
Dave Pommer: Director of University Ministries, Malibu Presbyterian Church; Malibu, Calif.
Mike Gaffney: Vice President of Young Life College; Everett, Wash.
Adrian McMullen: Associate for Collegiate Ministries at the General Assembly offices; Louisville, Ky.
Rev. Ray Jones: Coordinator for Evangelism at the General Assembly offices; Louisville, Ky.