The Winds of Change
This year’s Episcopal Chaplains’ Gathering took place June 24th -25th at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and was energized by the changes in the Episcopal Church, campus ministry and the world and therefore was most appropriately themed “The Winds of Change.” Campus Chaplains representing all eight domestic Provinces met in New Haven, Connecticut to ask questions, build relationships, and take action to gain more knowledge and encouragement before returning to their campuses and students.
The first night was kicked off with the New Chaplains Orientation and two outstanding workshops from The Reverend Shannon Kelly on campus ministry networking and from The Reverend Susan Terry on community college starts ups. These workshops were followed by Evensong with Eucharist where Berkeley Divinity School Dean, The Very Reverend Joseph Britton officiated Evening Prayer with the Right Reverend Ian Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut preaching and presiding. Later that evening at the Banquet and Awards Ceremony, emceed by The Reverend Dr. Glenn M. Libby, Interim Coordinator for Campus Missions, chaplains were recognized for their service to campus ministry. The Reverend Susan Terry from the Diocese of Kansas was awarded the “Distinguished Leadership Award” for her commitment to campus ministry advocacy, mentorship and vision especially regarding community college work. The Reverend Gregory Bezilla received the “Distinguished Service Award” for his interim coordination of Campus Ministry in 2011 and ongoing advocacy in a time of transition. The Reverend Peter M. Antoci was awarded the Sam Portaro Award for Creative Expression and Intellectual Enquiry for his book “Reflections on the Spirituality of Campus Ministry: A Play in Four Acts.” Jason Sierra, Officer for Young Adult Formation and Leadership, was given a standing ovation for his guiding of The Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry during challenging times.
The gathering continued with workshops and small group discussions on campus ministry programming ideas, budgeting, and goals of our chaplains in serving the Church and their campus communities. Mr. Sam McDonald, Director of Mission for the Episcopal Church, presented the lively group with a message that prepared the chaplains to get open and candid concerning the budget and future of campus ministry in the Church. The conversation was one of passion for the service to young adults and students and how chaplains can be confident and secure in the Church’s understanding, recognition and support of that service. The day was concluded with a workshop and visit to St. Hilda’s young adult internship site and sung compline at the historic Christ Church New Haven.
Chaplains left the Episcopal Gathering charged to continue to do the work they have committed to do in the mist of the “winds of change,” knowing that they had a voice and a network of support. These bonds between the chaplains were strengthened as many of them also took part in the Global Chaplains Conference that was held for the first time in the United States at Yale University, June 25th to June 29th.
The Global Conference was a week long experience of learning, openness and spirituality from all different religions, cultures and backgrounds. With keynote speakers such as Eboo Patel, chaplains and spiritual leaders across the world were encouraged to start and/or continue their work in interfaith leadership and programming on college campuses to improve religious tolerance, understanding, and spiritual growth among religious groups.
The Episcopal Chaplains Gathering proved again to be imperative to the work of the chaplains as it provides a safe space where they can connect and release and at the same time be filled with hope and a renewed sense of direction for the journey ahead of them.
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