2006 Annual Report

to the Committee on Higher Education and Campus Ministry
July 2005-June 2006 (as of August 2006)

I.  GOALS FOR THE 2005-2006 ACADEMIC YEAR

This was our fourth year being a full-time United Methodist campus ministry on the American University campus.   In this our fourth year, we hoped to build upon our past successes and focus on hospitality as the value that is a foundation for our community.   We believe that our focus on hospitality was a success.

II.  FAITHFUL CELEBRATION

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.   There other Christian services on campus are Roman Catholic, Chi Alpha (Assemblies of God), and The Gathering (McLean Bible Church).

1.  Attendance and Stability

In the 2005-2006 academic year, we followed up on our practice from the previous year of a vigorous presence at Welcome Week.   As a result, freshman involvement has been strong and our numbers have been on the increase.   Our average attendance for the academic year is 38, up 8 from 2004-2005 and up 15 from 2003-2004.

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 for the 2005-2006 AY:   Ash Wednesday (43); Palm Sunday (43); Maundy Thursday (23); Good Friday (25); Easter Vigil (27); Easter Sunrise (29); and Easter Sunday worship (56).   Our good numbers this year were the result of a major outreach that we initiated using flyering, electronic billboard advertising, and the distribution of 1,700 quarter-sheets to every mailbox on campus with the theme “What Wondrous Love is This?” and a list of all our Holy Week services.

2.  Worship Committee

A worship committee has been in existence since fall 2004.   The worship committee is entirely student led in consultation with the chaplain.   The committee bases its work on the sermon outlines that the chaplain has prepared and the themes for the day.   In consultation with the musicians, the committee 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.   In recent months, students have even begun writing the prayers that are used in our Sunday worship and Thursday healing services, adding a whole new level to the student involvement during worship.

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.   In 2005-2006 the average attendance was 11, an increase of 3 from the previous years.   And more and more people have been availing themselves of this worship opportunity.

C.  Other Services

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 the third year in a row, 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: 43 (up significantly from previous years).

We coordinated a Remembrance Day service on Veteran’s Day 2005 at which we read the names of the 2,000+ US servicemen and women who have died in Iraq, along with the names of other foreign service personnel and Iraqi civilians.

We offered a baccalaureate service for the second year in a row.   This year we were able to have our event listed in the university’s official commencement publication and attendance rose dramatically: 106 attendees, up from 30 the year before.

The UM chaplain also participated in a number of special services on campus this year.

III.  FAITHFUL SERVICE

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 one month, 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. Monthly themes for 2005-2006 included education, women’s equality, sexuality, child labor, environment, and animal rights.

The Other Six Days: Fair Trade Chocolate Sales.   The UM Community purchased 60 bars of fair trade chocolate to sell around Valentine’s Day and to promote our “The Other Six Days” focus on child labor (as such chocolate is free of child labor).   The bars were resold at $1.50 and used as a UMSA fundraiser for justice purposes.

B.  Alternative Spring Break

In the 2003-2004 academic year, our ministry added an Alternative Spring Break program.   Based upon a similar program at Howard University, we planned a week of service and learning in Cherokee, North Carolina.   In 2006, our third year of the program, we had 18 students participate in the program, staying at Cherokee UMC and working during the day at the home of a family in need. We also participated in a Potato Drop sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew that took place at Cherokee UMC.   In addition, we were able to meet members of the community including the Principal Chief, participate in a sweat lodge ritual, and to explore the town.   It was a very successful program and we expect to reprise it in 2007.

C.  Social Justice Intern

Since spring 2004, we have had a social justice coordinator.   Originally an intern for one semester from the Washington Center, this position has been staffed by a student peer minister since the fall of 2004.   The Social Justice Coordinator organizes meetings of the social justice committee and plans the events for our “The Other Six Days” program.   Our current social justice coordinator is Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, a junior from Chicago, Illinois.

D.  Participation with other Groups

Our Social Justice ministry participated with AU Solidarity in seeking ethical contracts for university and was a coalition partner with AU Hillel and Students for Darfur in conducting events in opposition to the Sudanese genocide in Darfur.

The Chaplain participated in a panel “Death Penalty in America: A Heavy Price to Pay?” sponsored by Zeta Phi Beta

IV.  FAITH DEVELOPMENT

A.  Baptism and Christian Initiation

We did not have any students receive baptism or join The United Methodist Church during this academic year.

B.  Covenant Discipleship

We had a regular covenant discipleship meeting every week.   The CD group was organized by our Pastoral Intern Angela Harris.   In January, a second CD group was added due to increased interest.

C.  Bible Studies

1.  Great Stories of the Bible

Every Wednesday evening, the Chaplain led a Bible study entitled “Great Stories of the Bible” designed to increase Biblical literacy and familiarity with foundational texts.   Though a late starter, it was very popular and had an average of 6 participants a week.   This study will continue in 2006-2007.

2.  Bible Studies at Washington College of Law

The chaplain conducted occasional Bible studies at the Washington College of Law as a guest of the Christian Legal Society.

3.  Sunday Chaplain’s Study: The Pauline Epistles

As a continuation from 2004-2005, we continued a systematic study of the writings of the Apostle Paul.   Average attendance was small (3) but very faithful in attendance.   We expect this study to continue in 2006-2007.

D.  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.

E.  Conference Participants

Two of our students attended Student Forum in Michigan in May 2006.   The North East Jurisdiction meeting of the United Methodist Student Movement was cancelled for the Fall 2005 meeting and thus no students were able to participate.

F.  Counseling

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.

In the spring of 2006, the chaplain reprised a support group for graduating seniors.

G.  Discussions & Panels

•  Discussion: “Life, Death, and Then What?”–Invited by former Catholic chaplain to participate in panel on life after death at Mt. Vernon campus of GW
•  Table Talk: “Can Child Labor Ever Be Justified as a Tool of Development” (The Other Six Days education event on child labor co-sponsored by the office of the University Chaplain)
•  Table Talk: “Global Warming: Whose Fault? Whose Responsibility?” (The Other Six Days education event on the environment co-sponsored by the office of the University Chaplain)
•  Discussion: “Are Denominations Dividing Christians?”   Organized by ZFB Sorority, the UM Chaplain was invited to speak about Christian unity and denominational difference.
•  Continuing of The Other Six Days education programming on education & gender discrimination, including outing to see North Country .

V.  FAITHFUL RELATIONSHIPS

A.  Weekly Fellowship

•  Fellowship after Sunday services in the Kay Lounge
•  Weekly Community dinner in the Tavern, avg. attend.: 12.   Toward the end of the year, a second weekly began to take place following the weekly fellowship on Sunday evenings.

B.  Welcome Week

We began the 2005-2006 academic 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 in the Rock Creek Park 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.

C.  Student Night at Camden Yards

2005 was the fourth year we have done this program.   It was tied in with our Welcome Week promotion, which, combined with the market appeal of the new Washington baseball team, brought 45 students.   As with the previous year, 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.

D.  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 Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Star Wars III, Love Actually,   The Constant Gardener, Walk the Line, Good Night and Good Luck 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.

E.  Fall and Spring Retreats

Our fall retreat was held on the weekend of September 16-17, 2005 at the cabin of University Chaplain Joe Eldridge in the Shenandoah.   Seventeen students attended, with a large number of freshmen participating.

F.  Fall Outings

We did not have our annual fall outing but intend to reprise it in 2006.

G.  Other Fellowship Opportunities

•  Methodist Mardi Gras: Shrove Tuesday party at chaplain’s residence with pancakes, etc.
•  Dinner and a Movie: “Thank You for Smoking”
•  Community Planning Meeting, March 30: 2005-2006 Vision: Inclusiveness
•  Annual Eat at Joe’s Cookout at University Chaplain’s house, April 24
•  Baseball Outing to Nationals vs. Mets, April 29
•  Welcome Week programming, August 22-26, 2005
•  Baseball Outing to Nationals vs. Phillies, September 2, 2005
•  Community Retreat in Shenandoah, September 16-17, 2005
•  Agape Meal/All Saint’s Ecumenical Service, November 1, 2005
•  UMSA Christmas Dinner at UM Chaplain’s house, December 11, 2006

VI.  FAITH SHARING

A.  Website

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://www.aumethodists.org/sermons.html. Students can also use the website to update their directory information and participate in community polls.

For the past two and a half years, 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 cookouts for the AU Campus on September 21, 2005.   Approximately 350 people are served at these events, receiving AU UMC cups with worship times and our web address.

C.  Orientation

We had a regular presence at summer orientation 2005 and added about 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 cross-shaped keychains 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.

F.  Hospitality Ministry

  • Have new Hospitality Coordinator, responsible for tabling on campus, greeting newcomers
  • Vigorous new campaign emphasizing inclusiveness “Arms Open Wide”
  • Formation of Hospitality Committee

G.  Promotion and Marketing

  • Methodist Heritage Week, September 12-16, 2005, Week-long program of events and discussions about United Methodism
  • Formation of Newsletter Committee and newsletter The UMSA Monthly
  • Provision of free chocolate during finals to stressed out students

H.  Participation in Interfaith Events

  • Interfaith Council Discussion: Ask the Chaplain “Faith and Social Justice”–Chaplains of different faiths were invited to speak about their tradition’s relationship to social justice

VII.  GOALS AND PLANS FOR THE COMING YEAR

A.  Create a Culture of Spiritual Development

Building on our previous successes, we hope to focus on one area where we have been weakest: spiritual formation.   In the coming year, we hope to emphasize small groups, covenant discipleship, vocational reflection and other spiritual development programs.   The theme for the year is called “Share the Love–Live the Life”, focused on a holistic faith and spiritual formation.

B.  Re-Affirmation of Reconciling Status

In 2006-2007 we hope to engage in a comprehensive review and re-affirmation of our status as a Reconciling Campus Ministry.

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, and hospitality, we hope to develop student leaders in small groups and discipleship.

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.