Such was the thinking of The Rev. John Hall, lead planter of Christ The Redeemer Anglican Church in Clemson, South Carolina. From past experience, Hall knew that a close bond between campus ministry and the local church could be a key to the development of a successful pipeline of young church leaders.
Two young leaders joining him in this vision are Luke Rasmussen and Justin Hare. “Luke and I started dreaming about what an Anglican college ministry at Clemson could look like. As Anglicans, we worship through liturgy and have traditions other denominations do not. To be able to engage students on campus in their specific tradition is vital. Having done youth ministry in Charleston, I knew that Anglican students from all over America come to Clemson, but upon arrival found there was no vibrant campus ministry in their tradition.”
Hare continues: “Most campus ministries (including the one I attended in college) tend to emphasize the meetings where college students come together. Luke and I think this is important, but we also want to see students integrated into the full life of the church — a ministry where students serve alongside older and younger members of the church on Sunday and throughout the week.
“We want to see students meeting with a mentor family for dinner or grabbing coffee with a member of the congregation during the week to study God’s word together. The only way for these kinds of relationships to happen organically is to stress the centrality of the local church.”
Instead of starting an Anglican college ministry from scratch, it made sense to partner with the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), an organization that provides training, support, an annual conference gathering, and plenty of knowledge about reaching the college campuses. Nicole Shirk, Executive Vice President for Campus Ministry at CCO and one of several Anglicans in leadership with the organization, says, “we are eager to partner with many more Anglican Church in North America churches in the future”. Currently, CCO – Anglican Church in North America church partnerships include: Church of the Ascension (Pittsburgh, PA); Incarnation Church (State College, PA); Church of the Redeemer @ New Garden Park (Greensboro, NC); Christ the Redeemer (Clemson, SC); and Church of the Apostles (Columbia, SC).
“It’s been said,” adds Hare, “that if you want to know the culture ten years from now, go to a college campus today. Unfortunately, most Christians making that visit won’t be thrilled with what they see. But it’s important to remember — while college can be a time when students drift from the faith, it can also be a time for them to grow exponentially in it. The unique challenges of college ministry, I think, suit me quite well. I love helping students wade through the big questions of life by looking at the Scriptures with them.”
David Wright is the Coordinator for Student Ministries in the Diocese of South Carolina. Having served as a Youth Minister at St. John’s Hartford in Cheshire, England and Christ Church of Oak Brook, Il, Wright has over 30 years of youth ministry experience. He has written numerous articles for publications in the UK and USA as well as led training for youth leaders in the US, UK, and Canada.