to the Committee on Higher Education and Campus Ministry
Academic Year 2004-2005 (Revised February 2006)
I. GOALS FOR THE 2004-2005 ACADEMIC YEAR
This was our third year being a full-time United Methodist campus ministry on the American University campus. Our primary goal during this first year was to raise the profile of the United Methodist presence on the campus and to create a dynamic and stable community of faith available to AU students. In our second year (2003-2004), we hoped to define that raised profile as a community committed to a radical inclusiveness and with a solid identity. In our third year (2004-2005) we hope to further define our community as one dedicated to living an active faith and committed to social justice. As described below, I believe that these goals have been achieved or are in the process of being achieved.
A. Sunday Night Worship
Regular weekly worship services are held in the Kay Spiritual Life Center chapel every Sunday evening during the semester at 7:00 p.m. It is the only regular mainline Protestant worship service offered on campus.
1. Attendance and Stability
We made great strides in 2002-2003 in terms of attendance. Unfortunately, we were not able to follow up on that in 2003-2004. A number of efforts were made to change this trend, but it remained largely the same throughout the year. Our average attendance in 2002-2003 was 26. In 2003-2004 our average attendance was 23.
In the 2004-2005 academic year, we made a much more aggressive attempt to reach freshmen during Welcome Week. We had an event scheduled for every day of the week. We have noticed much greater freshman involvement in our activities and in our worship life. As a result, our average attendance during this academic year jumped to 30.
In addition to the increased average attendance, attendance at Lenten and Holy Week events was much higher than in previous years. Previous years had seen the addition of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday services–the 2004-2005 AY saw the addition of a midnight Easter Vigil that was well attended. Attendance for Lenten and Holy Week events: Ash Wednesday (40); Palm Sunday (50); Maundy Thursday (28); Good Friday (29); Easter Vigil (22); Easter Sunrise (13); and Easter Sunday worship (48).
2. Worship Committee
One of the greatest improvements has been the addition of a worship committee. The worship committee is entirely student led in consultation with me. The committee bases its work on the sermon outlines that I have prepared and the themes for the day. In consultation with the musicians, it determines the hymns, it picks the prayers and other worship elements. It has been a remarkable instrument for getting student involvement in the worship life of the community.
B. Thursday Night Healing Service
We have continued with our mid-week worship opportunity: a communion, prayer, and healing service held every Thursday night at 11:00 p.m. in the Kay Chapel. Our average weekly attendance for the 2003-2004 academic year was 8 people. In 2004-2005 the average attendance was 9.
C. Other Services
We coordinated a Remembrance Day service on Veteran’s Day 2004 at which we read the names of US servicemen and women who have died in Iraq, along with the names of other foreign service personnel and Iraqi civilians.
Ash Wednesday services are usually coordinated by the Catholic chaplain’s office and consist of a noon and evening mass and ecumenical services at the law school and the Kay Chapel. This year, for was the second year that we provided a late night (11 pm) Ash Wednesday service for the benefit of United Methodist/Protestant students unable to make the earlier services. Attendance: 28.
The United Methodist community offered a Baccalaureate Service, May 7, 2005, the Saturday before graduation. It was the first such Baccalaureate Service in years (the previous ones had been offered by the University itself). Thirty graduates and their families attended.
III. SOCIAL JUSTICE
A. The Other Six Days
The most significant development in our social justice ministry was the creation in the 2004-2005 year of an ongoing ministry called “The Other Six Days.” The aim of this program is to connect particular Sunday worship with opportunities for education and service. In September, for example, students had an opportunity to visit Sojourner’s magazine to learn about anti-hunger efforts. Also in that month, students gathered to make sandwiches and distribute them along with fruit and a bottle of water to the homeless of Washington. These two events were tied to a Sunday worship service devoted to hunger issues at which the sermon was entitled “Loaves and Fishes” and addressed the Christian response to hunger. October addressed homelessness and November is addressing AIDS. In the spring semester, we addressed racism, domestic violence, and environmentalism.
B. Alternative Spring Break
In the 2003-2004 academic year, our ministry added an Alternative Spring Break program, and reprised the program in 2005. We had 16 students participate in the program, staying at Cherokee UMC and working during the day at Cherokee Challenge, a leadership program for Cherokee youth. We also participated in a Potato Drop from the Society of St. Andrew at Cherokee UMC. We were able to meet members of the community–including the Principal Chief of the Tribe, participate in a sweat lodge ritual, and to explore the town. It was a very successful program and will be continued in 2006.
C. Social Justice Intern
In the spring 2004 semester, we welcomed Ms. Laura Peck as our social justice intern. A senior at Hanover College in Indiana, she worked with us via the Washington Center. In August, she began studies at Wesley Seminary (this development itself being a consequence of her work with us). She was succeeded by Lindsey Kerr, a student in the campus ministry. This represents the creation of a ‘peer ministry’ of sorts within the campus ministry.
D. Other events
IV. EDUCATIONAL & DISCIPLESHIP OPPORTUNITIES
A. Baptism and Christian Initiation
We were happy to welcome Colin Mattoon into membership in The United Methodist Church. Colin joined in November 2004.
B. Covenant Discipleship
We had a regular covenant discipleship meeting every week. The current CD group is being organized by our current Wesley Seminary pastoral intern, Angela Harris.
C. Wednesday Afternoon Bible Studies
Every Wednesday afternoon in the Davenport Coffee Lounge, students and the chaplain meet to discuss the lectionary text for the week in a devotional setting.
D. Friday Chaplain’s Study
Friday afternoons at 1 pm, the Chaplain continues his in-depth text study. In the fall of 2004 the group is studying the book of Genesis. The interfaith text study is on hiatus until a new time can be worked out.
E. Interfaith Dialogue
The UMSA and The UM Chaplaincy are founding presences in the Kay Interfaith Council, an interfaith body designed to promote communication and discussion among the various tenants of the Kay Spiritual Life Center.
F. Conference Participants
One of our students attended Student Forum in Arkansas in May 2004, as well as a student from George Washington University who is part of our extended family. In addition, we had a number of students who attended the NEJ conference in Fall 2004.
The United Methodist chaplain has offered counseling services to the university and has counseled a number of students from within and without the community. In contrast with a number of other ministries on campus, the UM community has developed a reputation as an open and affirming community, and that has translated into students coming for counseling who are from outside the community, but who believe they are likely to be better received there than in their own.
VI. SOCIAL EVENTS & FELLOWSHIP
A. Welcome Week
We began the 2004-2005 year with an active welcome week program consisting of a walking tour of the monuments, a movie night, a wiffleball game, a beach party, and s’mores. Tied into this promotion were events during September such as a hike at Great Falls, MD and the baseball outing (see below). While freshman participation varied at the events, we learned that the number of events had created a “buzz” about the activities of the United Methodist community on campus.
B. Student Night at Camden Yards
On September 10, 2004, we took students to Camden Yards on $5 student night to watch the Yankees-Orioles game. 2004 was the third year we have done this program. It was tied in with our Welcome Week promotion, which, combined with the market appeal of the New York Yankees, brought 45 students. In the end, we rented a bus from Leonard’s Transportation services. The event was a great success and we even saw some baseball fans at worship the following Sunday.
C. Monthly Methodist Movie Night
The first Tuesday of the month is movie night. The UMSA and the Chaplaincy sponsor a free showing with free pizza and snacks. In the past year we showed School of Rock, Mystic River, Casablanca, Saved!, . Viewing of the film is always followed by a discussion in which we talk about the theological or philosophical issues addressed by each movie. The movie nights are very popular and we often have attendees who would not otherwise participate in campus ministry related events.
D. Fall and Spring Retreats
Our fall retreat was held on the weekend of September 17-18, 2004 at the cabin of University Chaplain Joe Eldridge in the Shenandoah. Attendance was up during 2004-2005 with a large number of freshmen participating.
E. Fall Outings
For the past two years, we have had a fall outing to Cox Farms in Centerville, Virginia. The outing involves hay rides, petting zoos, and large slides and other fun things to do.
F. Pancake Study Break
On the first night of the two-day pre-exam study period for both fall and spring semesters, the United Methodist Community, along with other ministries on campus, participated in a pancake study break coordinated by the University Chaplain. We helped to cook pancakes for nearly 300 hungry students from 11 pm to 2 am.
VII. OUTREACH & MARKETING
The Chaplaincy has a website that it maintains at http://www.aumethodists.org. The site contains information about the ministry, upcoming worship times, the weekly lectionary readings, and copies of past sermons. Sermons are posted on our website at http://archives.aumethodists.org/category/sermons/. Students can also use the website to update their directory information and participate in community polls.
For the past year and a half, we have had arrangements through Network for Good to receive online donations, which visitors to our website can make online through the services of that non-profit organization at no cost to us.
B. Feed the Quad
We sponsored our annual free picnic and cookout for the AU Campus on September 21, 2004. Around 350 people were served at this event, receiving AU UMC cups with worship times and our web address.
We had a regular presence at summer orientation 2004 and added an average of 45 names and e-mail addresses to our mailing list. We have had a larger number of materials available for students and their parents.
D. Club Fair and Tabling
The United Methodist Student Association had a table at the Campus Club Fair at which we distributed materials about the ministry, along with imprinted lanyards and ‘Flaming Cupcakes’ (hostess cakes with a candle stuck in them). “Flaming Cupcake” is the nickname of the Kay Spiritual Life Center, a round building with a flame on the roof. The UMSA also tabled in the campus center and offered hot chocolate on the quad during February.
E. Dorm Deacons
A number of students have volunteered to be Dorm Deacons, responsible for distributing flyers and other information in the dorms and for being contact persons for the community.
VIII. ECUMENICAL AND INTERFAITH RELATIONS
As part of the United Methodist campus ministry’s stewardship of the main Protestant worship service on campus, we help to promote and facilitate events and programs for the other Protestant ministries on campus. We have helped to promote the Baptist Student Fellowship’s Non-Violence Workshop, Episcopal communion services, Episcopal discussions, and a Baptist presentation of a Non-violence documentary.
IX. GOALS AND PLANS FOR THE COMING YEAR
A. Create a Community of Hospitality
B. Partnerships with other Campus Groups
Our “The Other Six Days” program provides us not only with the opportunity to explore diverse issues, but also to find natural allies on those issues among existing groups on campus. (For example, partnering with the Women’s Initiative when focusing on domestic violence next spring). We hope to partner with these groups as we seek to relate these issues to Christian faith.
C. Develop Christian Leaders
It is my hope that we will continue the trend we have begun in fostering Christian leaders. As we have seen students take responsibility for worship and social justice, it is my hope that we will see students take leadership of compassion, devotion, and hospitality ministries.
We hope to follow the strong showing we have made this year and expect to continue to grow our presence, outreach and the number of opportunities available to explore faith on the AU campus.
Mark A. Schaefer