Tuesday, March 13, 2012

College and University Churches

The Collegiate Ministries Task Force is recommending a Starting and Renewing College and University Churches Initiative.

"Rationale; There are a multitude of congregations in college communities that desire to have a better mission to and with campus. There are also several congregations that are excelling at this. The University Church Initiative helps bring these two types of churches together to aid in the process. This takes some of the pressure off the collegiate ministries office and helps build collegiality among the congregations. This initiative will also involve the church development office and the church transformation office by connecting appropriate congregations to the ongoing work of those offices."

From the strategic time line and budget published, 25 congregations with some potential for growth in or starting college ministry will be identified in the summer of 2012. They will gather sometime in the summer /fall of 2012. Perhaps this would be where the OCM, and church development / church transformation lays out resources and help for those congregations. The during the next year, research and initial help of the churches is completed, and another gathering of the 25 along with some additional churches which have identified.

Categories of college churches, I assume, would be those who could use some help/ideas to ramp up their existing ministry, and those who currently have no ministry, but could with help. Churches with already strong ministries and those who don't seem to have any potential would have to be excluded.

Twenty-five College and University Churches would hopefully be spread over the five Collegiate Ministry regions, so we can figure that each region, and each regional rep, might be responsible for the nurture of five congregations.

Part of this strategy will be to develop "  an adaptive model to promote and establish local Presbyterian collegiate ministries grounded in local congregations and supported by mid-councils." No information about this model has been released yet, but judging from the composition of the Task Force, the University Church model used by congregations in the Assent network, would provide a basis for this new initiative's model. The Assent model is used by large churches near large campuses. The OCM and the CM network would have to find ways of adapting it for small congregations near small institutions.

Some questions about this area of the strategy which the full report will hopefully answer are.: What criteria will be used for determining these 25 plus churches? What resources and time line for establishment of a college ministry will be expected? If a congregation starts a campus ministry, does that count as one one the 101 worshiping communities the  collegiate ministry community will start? Will a small congregation work to start an adjacent worshiping community, rather than adding a campus ministry component to their existing ministry? Considering the spectrum of congregations, even those near campuses, how much help can an "adaptive model" be? And will there sufficient funding to implement this vision?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

New Collegiate Ministries Structure and Network

The Collegiate Ministries Task Force is proposing that collegiate ministries in the PC(USA) have a two-part structure: the Office of Collegiate Ministries within the GAMC and a network in covenant with the GAMC. An Outline of the Strategic Plan the Task Force is recommending can be found in the information packet for the February GAMC meeting.

"Rationale; Many of our regional and local collegiate ministries are struggling to operate on a consistent basis, especially when there is local staff turnover or a change in the organization in which they operate (congregation, middle governing body, ecumenical setting). An organized structure, national network and regional intentionality will help collegiate ministries to function consistently and more effectively through changing times."

This CM Network will be something new. How it will relate to the existing professional networks ( PACHEM and PCCA) has not been made public. Published reports indicate that the Collegiate ministries Network be staffed with  five regional coordinators. These coordinators will serve as an informative and directive resource for students, parents, campus pastors and congregations within their region. This appears to be a model similar to what some other denominations are doing.

These coordinators will be part-time paid positions, funded through the Office of Collegiate Ministries (OCM). I don't know how much time is part-time, but the Proposed Budget and Timeline indicates that two coordinators will be in place by Jan 1, 2013, and the other three by Jan 1, 2014. The Regional Coordinators will initially be paid $10,400 plus travel, admin, and program monies. (I'm guessing approximately 10 hours per week.)

The Coordinators will be working to establish independent regional entities to support collegiate ministries. These entities will have established regional cohorts by the fall of 2013 and will be regionally incorporated with 501(c) 3 status by 2020. This implies that the Regional Coordinators will have raised sufficient funds by then to pay for their positions as well as funds to aid in the development and support of new campus missions as well as, I assume, helping existing ministries to become stronger and more financially secure.

The Coordinators will work with the OCM to "establish an adaptive model to promote and establish local Presbyterian collegiate ministries grounded in local congregations and supported by mid-councils." This will include identifying and  equipping 101 university communities to start new worshiping communities within the next 10 years.

Whew! This is an ambitious plan! The OCM in Louisville - one Associate and a half-time Administrative Assistant- will not get any larger, but an additional five Regional Coordinators will be hired. These will either be GA employees or contracted positions. They will have a few years in which to grow organizations which will fund their positions. The skill set for these Coordinators will be wide-ranging. They will have to be able to manage collegiate ministry development and programming, new ministry start-ups, and significant institutional development and fund-raising - and all in ten hours a week! That the vision incorporates five independent organizations in addition to the CM Network seems a lot of structure in a time in which less structure is occurring across the denomination. 

The Network will have some formal structure, also, with a part-time communications person as well as an operating budget. It will initially be supported by the OCM, as PACHEM and PCCA are now, but whether or not it will also move to independent status in not clear from the Strategic Plan Outline

I'm thankful the Task Force has Big Dreams.

What do you think?