Just two years after it was launched, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s campus ministry initiative UKirk is helping reclaim the heritage of faith and service at colleges across the country, according to Wayne Meiser, a top administrator at one of the denomination’s seminaries.
Since being introduced at the 220th General Assembly (2012), UKirk, or University Church, has developed 66 ministry sites on college campuses around the country and 120 collegiate ministries connected to the UKirk network.
Meiser, director of the Faith and Service Center at McCormick Theological Seminary, said in the past “campus ministries tended to get pushed out of conversation around service and advocacy in a university setting,” but that is changing.
Speaking Monday at the Collegiate Ministry Luncheon during the 221st General Assembly (2014), Meiser offered as an illustration his recent visit to Presbyterian House in Madison, Wisconsin.
Together with campus minister Eric Liu he sponsored a joint lecture on faith and service at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Civic Engagement.
“Out of this lecture – our work together – the university discovered how helpful it would be to have the chaplaincy office connected to its efforts for civic engagement,” said Meiser. “Liu, has been able to hold conversations engaging both faith and service around youth violence – the university is now using his office as a resource for the entire campus community.”
Meiser, one of the architects of Americorps, says UKirk ministry sites and those in the network are learning how to move from service to advocacy around social justice issues important to campuses.
David Loleng, associate for College Ministries for Presbyterian Mission Agency, is encouraged by these kinds of partnerships being formed with PC(USA) seminaries.
“We made a commitment to collaborate with our partners in ministry,” he said, including with the church’s 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement.
“We want to start 101 worshiping communities on college campuses in the next decade,” Loleng said. “Currently we have 23. We want to reach, love and teach college students so they may be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.”
by Paul Seebeck