Thursday, July 26, 2012

Professional Organizations With UKirk

The PC(USA)'s collegiate ministry professionals are moving to three organizations. The Presbyterian College Chaplains Association, PCCA, will remain unchanged, and continue to function as it currently does. PACHEM's roles will be divided into two groups. The Office of Collegiate Ministries Advisory Board will function as its name implies, and will work on long range strategy. (Part of that long range strategy may include some student organization or event.) The majority of PACHEM will be folded into UKirk. The website, resources, newsletters, conferences, and Collegiate Ministry Locator will migrate to in the next few months. PACHEM members, and those who already receive newsletters, will be seamlessly transferred to UKirk (we hope!)

UKirk (as even the name implies) holds up congregational based college ministry as its standard model. According to the 2012 Collegiate Ministry Strategy, congregations near campuses will be identified and helped/ encouraged to develop a campus ministry mission.

So what about those doing collegiate ministry but who are not congregation based?

The UKirk branding will be useful to those stand-alone Presbyterian Campus Ministers. Ecumenical ministries may be able to work UKirk in somehow, perhaps when they list the seals of the various denominations supporting them. The ecumenical ministries would be included in the Ministry Locator.

What about PCUSA congregations near a campus who currently support an ecumenical ministry on campus? Can they work in tandem, both being UKirk Ministries? Can there be numerous UKirk chapters for a single campus? More thinking is needed in this area.

As for chaplains, perhaps a few church-related institutions will be able to use the UKirk brand /logo for their own Presbyterian fellowship group on campus. Most chaplaincies, because of their charge to the entire campus, will not.

The hope is that the UKirk  emphasis will stimulate the chaplains to encourage the local PCUSA church to step up the church's college ministry. The hope is that the congregations and the chaplaincies will work better together to" reach, love, and teach" the college students.

One of the underlining UKirk assumptions, I think, is that the churches near our colleges have mainly assumed that the chaplains are doing the campus ministry for the congregations, while at the same time the churches don't understand the ramifications of the multifaith component of the chaplains. Many chaplaincies and local congregations have cordial relations, but not the level and spirit of cooperation UKirk implies. By stimulating the congregations to be active doing campus ministry while working with the chaplains, the chaplains will feel more support from the congregations. The end result is that more students will get connected.

I don't have a good feel for how the denomination's "worshiping community" concept will be a part of all this. The Chaplaincies have their own worshiping communities, most with strong Reformed overtones. Will the denomination take credit for them? Will chaplains be treated as congregational pastors instead of second class Presbyters? Might not a congregation have a worshiping community of college students, while the chaplain also has one (and with some students involved in both?)

This is an exciting time for collegiate ministry, fraught with potential. And hope springs eternal.....

Friday, July 06, 2012

A New Vision

A new vision for Collegiate Ministry in the PC(USA) was launched  this week at General Assembly. The center of this vision is a new organization, UKirk Ministries. This will be a "brand", a Westminster Fellowship for the Twenty-first Century, as well as an organization which will encourage, support and advocate for college ministries in the denomination. This "brand" is not proscriptive, that is, no campus ministry will have to call themselves a UKirk ministry. The hope is that the existing ministries with good name recognition might include somewhere in their literature that the ministry is "a UKirk Ministry."

UKirk - for "University Church" - seems appropriate for this time. It has a strong congregational tone, and the logo has a steeple. "Kirk" has historical Presbyterian /Church of Scotland connections. One comment in the past decade was that no student had any idea what "Westminster" had to do with a church. Perhaps many students will not know what a Kirk is (besides Starfleet's youngest Captain). Prebygeek students will get the Presbyterian connection. The "UKirk" combination has a current, edginess to it.

An initial website has been developed. The website also includes an introductory video.  PACHEM and will shortly be folded into UKirk.