to the Committee on Higher Education and Campus Ministry
July 2009-June 2010
I. GOALS FOR THE 2009-2010 ACADEMIC YEAR
This was our eighth year as a full-time United Methodist campus ministry at American University. In this year, we hoped to continue to foster ministries of spiritual discipline and development, through the continued development in the number of small groups and student led Bible studies. Another priority was to develop our relationships with our local church partners. We also hoped to continue growth in attendance in worship and involvement in leadership. We were in large measure successful in these endeavors.
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. The 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 2009-2010 Academic Year, our Sunday attendance started off very strong and remained so throughout the year. We ended the year with an average of 41, a 14% increase from 2008-2009 and the highest average attendance in our history. In addition, our total numbers for the year were the highest they have ever been for both the Sunday services (1,337) and the healing service (449) representing 12% and 24% increases respectively over the previous year.
Attendance at Lenten and Holy Week events was very high, in some cases the highest ever (indicated by an asterisk (*)). Attendance for Lenten and Holy Week events for the 2009-2010 AY: Ash Wednesday (49*); Palm Sunday (43); Maundy Thursday (32*); Good Friday (29); Easter Vigil (26); Easter Sunrise (18); and Easter Sunday worship (83*). Our good numbers this year were the result of a major outreach that we initiated using flyering, table displays in Mary Graydon, and signs on the quad listing 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 I have prepared and the themes for the day. In consultation with the musicians, the committee determines the hymns, it picks the prayers–in many cases writing the prayers–and other worship elements.
3. Sermon Series
I offered a sermon series in the fall entitled “Bible Stories for Grown-ups” that explored the deeper meaning behind familiar stories from Sunday School or Veggie Tales. Among the stories covered were Adam & Eve, Noah’s Ark, Joseph, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel. In the spring semester, I offered a sermon series entitled “Proclaiming a Fast” exploring those things which we tend to overdo: work, connectivity, consumerism.
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 2009-2010 the average attendance was 14, a 16% increase from 2008-2009 and is the highest such average on record.
C. Other Services
Ash Wednesday services are usually coordinated with the Catholic chaplain’s office, however as with the year before, the service at the law school conflicted with the Catholic noon mass and so I conducted the WCL service by myself. In addition, for the sixth 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: 49*.
In Fall 2009, our Thursday healing service was again modified to be a more interfaith commemoration of the September 11th attacks. Attendance: 24.
Students reprised the Veterans Day “Remembrance Day” Vigil, placing 4,500 crosses and other markers on the quad in remembrance of the U.S. servicemen and -women who have died in the Iraq war.
In January 2010, members of the community participated in an interfaith vigil for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, sharing prayers or reflections. The event was organized by the University Chaplain. (100)
We offered a baccalaureate service for the sixth year in a row. We were again able to have our event listed in the university’s official commencement publication. Attendance at the Baccalaureate was our highest yet: 129*.
III. FAITHFUL RELATIONSHIPS
A. Weekly Meetings of the United Methodist Student Association
The United Methodist Student Association (UMSA) has a weekly leadership meeting. This meeting is a key component of the community’s leadership development in that it develops leadership skills, teaches collaboration, and helps students to think productively and constructively. Students involved in UMSA leadership number approximately 15, representing well over a third (37.5%) of those regularly attending worship.
B. Weekly Fellowship
Every week, we have a time of fellowship after Sunday services in the Kay Lounge, with refreshments and an opportunity to connect with one another.
Fellowship remains strong following Sunday services and community dinner has likewise seen a resurgence following the weekly United Methodist Student Association meetings on Thursday evenings.
1. Fellowship Dinners
Following on the practice established in 2006-2007, we continued occasional fellowship dinners following worship. Some were cooked by the students, others were pizza dinners, and others were cooked by local congregations.
We have continued with fellowship dinners following worship. Some have come in the form of a cookout on the steps, chili prepared by students, or dinners provided by a local church (Metropolitan Memorial UMC, Dumbarton UMC). The number of these dinners has increased in each semester. Average attendance, about 40. The fellowship dinners have also provided an important way of connecting with the local congregations.
C. Welcome Week
We began the 2009-2010 Academic Year with an active welcome week program consisting of a game night and ice cream social (co-sponsored with Chi Alpha) (23), nighttime tour of the Monuments (7), participated in distributing cupcakes at a Kay event (300), and a movie night ( Slumdog Millionaire , 29), and s’mores (100). Tied into this promotion were events during September such as, a beach party (100), a hike in the Rock Creek Park (13).
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 Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, The Lemon Tree, Taken, Star Trek, Frost/Nixon, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and The Sandlot. Viewing of the film is always followed by an optional 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. Average attendance: 21.
E. Fall and Spring Retreats
Our fall retreat was held on the weekend of September 18-29, 2009 at the Shenandoah cabin of University Chaplain Joe Eldridge. Nineteen (19) students attended, with a number of freshmen participating. In the spring of 2010, 10 students attended a planning and visioning retreat at West River Camp.
F. Fall Outings
Fifteen (15) students participated in a fall outing to Homestead Farms in Poolesville, MD. In addition, a smaller group made an outing to the Maryland Renaissance Festival (4).
G. Halloween Murder Mystery Party
A tradition revived from the old Protestant Community days, the party is organized by students and was held at Metropolitan Memorial UMC. Participants are given roles to play and a crime to solve. Attendance 24.
The fall party was such a success it was reprised in the spring semester for Valentine’s Day. Attendance: 18.
H. Quad Sitting Ministry
A ministry of hospitality and fellowship: the chaplaincy provided blankets for sitting on the quad, extension cords for laptops, and free snacks and sodas. Students would use the opportunity to study in the fresh air. A dozen or more students took advantage of the opportunity.
I. Other Fellowship Opportunities
- Welcome Week programming, August 16-23, 2009
- Fellowship Dinner following Worship provided by MMUMC, August 30, 2009 (45)
- Outing to Renaissance Festival, October 17, 2009 (4)
- Dinner and Movie Outing to “Where the Wild Things Are”, October 23, 2009 (6)
- Fellowship Dinner provided by MMUMC, October 25, 2009 (40)
- Fellowship Dinner provided by Dumbarton UMC, November 8, 2009 (40)
- Thanksgiving Dinner, provided by our Lutheran Chaplain (44)
- UMSA Christmas Dinner at UM Chaplain’s house, December 5, 2009 (15)
- “Hypothetical” Christmas Party, December 10, 2010 (26)
- Methodist Mardi Gras: Shrove Tuesday party with pancakes, etc. (11)
- Fellowship Dinner provided by MMUMC, February 21, 2010 (25)
- Fellowship Dinner on “Bring a Friend to Church” Sunday, February 28, 2010 (30)
- Fellowship Dinner provided by MMUMC, March 21, 2010 (30)
- Easter Dinner, prepared by students in honor of baptism of Kathleen Kimball and Ethan Goss, April 4, 2009 (53*)
- Barbecue and Movie Night, April 16, 2010 (25)
- Annual Eat at Joe’s Cookout, April 25, 2010 (39)
- Senior Farewell Cookout and UMSA Talent Show, May 2, 2010 (40)
- Senior dinner: I took the graduating seniors to dinner at Lebanese Taverna, May 5, 2010, (11)
IV. FAITH DEVELOPMENT
A. Baptism and Christian Initiation
Mr. Ethan Goss and Ms. Kathleen Kimball were both baptized and received into membership in The United Methodist Church on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010 by profession of faith.
B. Covenant Discipleship
We had two regular covenant discipleship meetings every week. The CD groups were organized by one of our seminary interns.
C. Practical Christianity
One of our sophomores, Jennifer Kinne continued to demonstrate great leadership in taking charge of this program and has developed excellent study outlines and had a number of very successful discussions, which she did throughout the year, often following the themes of the Sunday worship. Average attendance: 5.
D. Bible Studies
1. Theology with Fries and a Soda
Every week, I modified my weekly Bible study in the Tavern called “Scripture with Fries and a Soda” in the fall of 2009 and became a weekly discussion group on theology, called “Theology with Fries and a Soda” in which writings of great theologians were posted on the website for students to read and then discussed over lunch in the Tavern.
2. Membership Classes
I provided a course for students wishing to enter into Christian faith and join the church. In the Spring of 2010, two students participated in the class and were baptized on Easter Sunday.
3. Bible Studies at Washington College of Law
I conducted occasional Bible studies at the Washington College of Law as a guest of the Christian Legal Society.
4. Summer Bible Study
In the summer of 2010, following on the success of the previous summers, there was a sizeable number of students remaining in town over the summer and an expressed desire for fellowship and study. A weekly Bible study and dinner would run throughout June and July. Average attendance (as of June 2010): 9.
E. Women’s Bible Study
Beginning in the Spring 2007 semester, a number of young women decided to form a Women’s Group to study scripture, support one another, and reflect upon the meaning of being a young woman of faith. This group continued throughout the 2009-2010 Academic Year as a Women’s Bible Study led by one of our pastoral interns. Average attendance: 5-6.
F. Justice Walking Group
In the 2009-2010 academic year, students attempted to organize a J-Walking group (Justice Walking) which is an intentional living small group focusing on justice in one’s personal life, inner repose and reflection, as a counterpart to social justice. While there was some interest in it, not enough students were able to make the commitment and the idea was deferred. The student leader involved indicated she would try again the following year.
G. 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.
H. Conference Participants
One of our students attended Student Forum in May 2010. Students also participated other connectional ministry. A number of our students continued leadership in various United Methodist student groups, including UMSM, RMN, and MoSAIC.
As United Methodist chaplain, I have offered counseling services to the university and has counseled a number of students from within and without the community. 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.
In the spring of 2010, I reprised a support group for graduating seniors. It met every Saturday off campus at coffee shops and other restaurants in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Average attendance: 4-5.
J. Discussions & Panels
- Film and Discussion: Screening of Pray with Africa , and discussion with filmmaker and speakers on stories of hope and change in Africa (14)
- I participated in an interfaith discussion on the afterlife sponsored by the Kay Interfaith Council. (13)
- Discussion: “Human Rights in Israel/Palestine”, Discussion with panelists about human rights issues in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (20)
- Interfaith Discussion: Suffering, organized by Kay Interfaith Council (21)
- Discussion: Veterans’ Rights. Students from AU Student Veterans participated in a discussion on veterans issues as part of our The Other Six Days program. (28)
- Discussion: “Liberation Theology”. A panel discussion and Bible study exploring different aspects of liberation theology through our The Other Six Days program. (10)
- Interfaith Discussion: Sex and Religion. Organized by the Kay Interfaith Council. (18)
- Interfaith Discussion: Religion and the Holocaust. As part of our participation in Holocaust Remembrance Week, I facilitated a discussion the role religion played in the Holocaust and how religion was affected by the Holocaust. (24)
- Discussion: Disabilities and the Student Experience. Panelists discussed the impact on students of unseen disabilities. (40)
K. Academic Instruction
Since the fall of 2006, I have been an adjunct professor in the Philosophy and Religion department, teaching a course entitled “Religious Heritage of the West”. It is a general education course of about 40 students a semester. This has offered me the opportunity to make connections in the classroom as well as in the chapel.
In the spring of 2010, I was asked to be a last minute replacement for the instructor of a course entitled “Religion and Social Justice” an upper level course of about 25 students.
Beginning in the fall of 2010, I will also be teaching a course in New Testament, being offered for the first time in nearly a decade.
V. FAITHFUL SERVICE
A. The Other Six Days
The most significant development in our social justice ministry was the creation of an ongoing ministry called “The Other Six Days” in the 2004-2005 Academic Year. The aim of this program is to connect particular Sunday worship with opportunities for education and service. Monthly themes for 2009-2010 included science and religion, climate change, Israel-Palestine, veterans rights, liberation theology, disability rights. In each month there was a dedicated worship service, a discussion or educational event, and a service opportunity. The educational opportunities included discussions, film screenings, and presentations. Service projects (see below) included fundraising, letter writing, and other hands-on activities.
B. 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 social justice coordinators for 2000-2010 were Kurt Karandy (’11), Kristen Walling (’10), and Lauren Allen (’12).
C. Social Justice Committee
Students met weekly to discuss issues of social justice and our community response thereto. Average attendance: 5.
D. Service Projects
- In September 2009, the Committee on Social Justice presented a film and discussion on Africa entitled “Pray with Africa” in conjunction with the filmmakers and representatives from the General Board of Global Ministry. (14)
- November 2009, students placed our memorial vigil to the fallen soldiers of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on the quad.
- November 2009, Students assembled Christmas gift boxes for needy children to donate through Operation Christmas Child . (8)
- In March 2010, students sold fair trade chocolate to raise money for the United Methodist Committee on Relief for its work in Haiti and Chile.
- In April 2010, students participated in the reading of names of victims of the Holocaust organized by the Jewish Student Association.
E. 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 2010, we took a somewhat smaller than usual group of 9 to Cherokee again for a week of service, reflection, and learning.
F. Participation with other Groups (Points of Contact)
- The UMSA participated in a number of events with other groups, including EcoSense, Queers and Allies, the GLBTA Resource Center, and a number of social justice groups on campus.
VI. FAITH SHARING
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/worship/sermons.
Students can also use the website to update their directory information and participate in community polls.
We have made arrangements through the General Council on Finance and Administration approved Vanco Services to receive online donations through the website.
B. Methodist Heritage Week
September 15-20, 2009, we reprised our week-long program of events and discussions about United Methodism. Discussions included a discussion on Methodist history, and other learning opportunities.
1. Feed the Quad
We sponsored our annual free picnic and cookout for the AU Campus on September 15, 2009. Approximately 300 people are served at these events, receiving AU UMC cups with worship times and our web address. For the fifth year in a row, it took place during Methodist Heritage Week.
2. Demonstration of Wesley’s Preaching
Once again, I dressed up as John Wesley and delivered the sermon “The One Thing Needful”. A discussion followed. (7)
We had a regular presence at summer orientation 2009 and added about 40 names and e-mail addresses to our mailing list. We 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 t-shirts, cups, lanyards and other materials. The UMSA also tabled in the campus center and offered hot chocolate on the quad during February.
In addition, during winter finals, I tabled in the Mary Graydon Center, offering “Spiritual Therapy Through Chocolate” and giving out free chocolates and other snacks to stressed out college students during finals.
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
- Hospitality Coordinator: responsible for tabling on campus, greeting newcomers.
- Students visit the dorm rooms of those who were visitors to church the previous Sunday, bringing cups with the UM community logo and schedule that are full of candy, and information about the community
- Formation of Hospitality Committee–a group of students who reflect on issues of hospitality and how our community can improve. This “Hospitality Brigade” met a number of times during the year to prepare care packages to students during finals.
G. Study Breaks
- Partnering with the Hillel Foundation and the University Chaplain’s office, I helped to establish a study lounge in the chapel for students to use during finals. It was stocked with snacks and other refreshments. (30+)
- Pizza Dinner for Stragglers: Realizing that the Terrace Dining Room dining hall closes at 2 p.m. on the last day of exams, leaving students with nowhere to go for dinner on that day, we provided free pizzas to students as a gesture of hospitality. Attendance: 140.l
- Provision of free chocolate during finals to stressed out students (see “Spiritual Therapy Through Chocolate” above).
H. Promotion and Marketing
- We have continued with the dynamic marketing campaign utilizing minimalist ads and snarky messages from 2008-2009 that has been extremely successful in branding the community, raising the profile of the ministry, and in reaching out to students.
- Placement of ads in electronic newsletters, chalking on quad, quartersheet mailings to campus mailboxes.
- The campus ministry maintains a presence on Facebook and other online media.
I. Participation in Interfaith Events
- Participation in Interfaith Month and Interfaith Fortnight with open services designed to be accessible to visitors.
- I served as one of the advisors to the Kay Interfaith Council and regularly participated its programs.
VII. LEADERSHIP & MENTORSHIP
For the past three years, our campus ministry has had a program pairing incoming freshmen with an upperclassman who shares interests and background. These connections help to provide a sense of community and to make the freshman transitions to college life easier.
B. Vocational Discernment
I regularly met with students to discuss vocational and to help them reflect on future plans. In the coming year, we hope to expand this to pairing students with members of the community at large who are already at work in the students’ chosen fields and who can give particular mentorship, especially as their vocations relate to their faith.
VIII. GOALS AND PLANS FOR THE COMING YEAR
A. Continue to Create a Culture of Spiritual Development
In 2010-2011, we hope to continue to try to develop ministries of spiritual discipline and development. We would like to continue to build greater resources for spiritual development.
B. Increase Service Opportunities
Our community’s commitment to social justice has been strong, but there is a perceived need to have more direct “hands-on” service opportunities in what Wesley would have termed a ministry of “mercy”. We hope through engagement of incoming students and the fostering of a service coordinator to expand those opportunities.
C. Create a Culture of Engagement in Faith
One of the long-range goals of the community is to assist American University in exploring the intersections of faith and public life. We hope to help along a process of exploration of the ways that people of faith can turn their faith into action, and that people concerned with social justice can mine the depths of the theological and religious traditions. This is an important element of vocational discernment and of effective social change for the transformation of lives.
The long-range vision is for the creation of Center for Religion and Civil Life to be a joint venture of the UMC and AU. We plan to begin this process with the first stage: the provision of an associate chaplain to help with vocational discernment and social justice engagement. In 2010-2011, in partnership with Metropolitan Memorial UMC, we hope to initiate this program.
D. Develop Sermon Series Designed to Appeal to Seekers and Skeptics
Following up on the examples provided by the fall sermon series of 2008 and 2009, we plan to have a number of sermon series in 2010-2011 that will attract non-religious or nominally religious students to come to our fellowship, including sermon series called “10 Things I Hate About Church” and “Journeying Through Lent with U2”.
E. Add More Arts to Worship
Students have expressed a desire to add more arts to worship, including visuals and drama as an effort to maintain passion and energy in worship and engage the tradition in exciting new ways.
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
United Methodist Campus Minister