Facing common challenges

Mennonite campus pastors meet for sharing, support

Campus pastors at Mennonite colleges and universities met at Bluffton University April 8-10 to share ideas about ministry on their respective campuses and to support each other in prayer.

They represented several North American Mennonite institutions, including Eastern Mennonite University, Bethel College, Goshen College, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario.

Bluffton’s campus pastor, Stephen “Tig” Intagliata, said he believes the annual meeting allows campus pastors to reflect on their ministries and to analyze “what challenges our institutions are facing that affect our ministry and life on campus.” It also presents an opportunity for them to pray for one another, he said.

“We’re here to care for each other and support each other,” noted Ed Janzen, campus pastor at Conrad Grebel.

The group spent time discussing ways in which campus pastors can provide meaningful ministry to students on their campuses in today’s changing world.

“We learn from each other every year,” Janzen added.

Other activities included a seminar on faith mentoring by Goshen pastor Bob Yoder; a discussion on how to facilitate respectful conversation about same-sex relationships; and several breaks for prayer and fellowship with one another.

The group also attended sessions on Bluffton’s annual civic engagement day, including an address by keynote speaker Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, who spoke on cultural diversity in America. The sessions related to the university’s 2013-14 civic engagement theme, “Race and Ethnicity in America: Celebration, Struggle, Opportunity.”

Brian Martin Burkholder, from Eastern Mennonite, said he sought to learn “what initiatives might be helpful on any given campus.” He was particularly interested in hearing from Yoder, who surveyed students at Mennonite institutions with questions about their faith backgrounds and their perceptions of spiritual mentors on campus.

“What I got out of this year’s gathering was a realization that all of our campuses have some common challenges that we face,” said Intagliata. “By sharing those challenges, we can support each other and share ideas about how to respond to them.”

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Chay Reigle, public relations office