Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) in Eugene welcomes students who come from a variety of places and backgrounds. At our Thursday evening dinners and worship, this past year, we have welcomed college students from the Eugene area, the Dioceses of Eastern Oregon and Tacoma and from southern California. One student, who is originally from Ethiopia, received his US citizenship this spring.
For some students, ECM can feel like a connection to their home church. For some who have not sought to connect with a local Episcopal Church, ECM becomes their church community. For others, ECM becomes a safe place to explore their faith after some kind of negative experience in a previous church. In the context of worship and the friendly conversation around the dinner table, the stresses of college life sometimes melt away.
The five students living in the house face an experience of living in community with other young adults. Great connections and friendship can occur as well as friction over their varied expectations of themselves and others regarding mutual responsibilities and simply caring for one another. It is a growing experience.
ECM runs the Student Food Pantry. It was started 8 years ago this Fall by then Chaplain Marissa Tabizon Thompson. It started small and has grown over the years. While it is still located in the single car garage at ECM, it is now bursting at the seams, having served over 1000 different students in just the past year. Each week the Pantry serves nearly 150 students, providing much appreciated additional nutrition to many students who are having a hard time making ends meet. The Pantry serves any college student in the Eugene-Springfield area including the University of Oregon, Lane Community College, Gutenburg College, Northwest Christian University and others.
Chaplain Doug Hale has been serving at ECM for over 5 years and seen significant changes. At one time, the Pantry was the only effort to serve this need among students. But in the last couple years the University of Oregon administration and various programs have realized the need and are poised to offer various other programs to address this need starting this Fall. The Pantry has been crucial in inspiring others to take the need seriously and to find ways to respond.
The financial support of the Diocese of Oregon is very important in making the ministry of Episcopal Campus Ministry – Eugene possible. It provides substantial support to the ½-time salary of the Chaplain. There is another way the leaders of the diocese and congregations can support this ministry and other campus ministries. If you know of students heading off to college, encourage them to seek out a campus ministry or a nearby congregation where they are going. Also, contact one of the campus ministers in our dioceses, so they can help connect these students with the ministries that wait to receive them.
Kristyn Dodge graduated from Northwest Christian University this spring with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Christian Ministry. During her final year at NCU, she made presentations to the student body about disability issues and food insecurity among college students. She also made a presentation on disability and the Church at St. Mary’s, Eugene.
After graduation, Kristyn was invited to move into the Episcopal Campus Ministry house and serve as the Assistant Chaplain. There she has been assisting Fr. Doug Hale in the running of the Student Food Pantry, addressing needs within the house and bringing a fresh set of eyes to the preparation for the beginning of Fall Term.
Kristyn has also taken on the role of church librarian at St. Mary’s, Eugene. Her love of books, both theological and novel, has prepared her well for this position.
She is currently in discernment about what kind of ministry God is calling her to next. Wherever God is leading her, you can expect her to arrive with a lot of energy.