Well it happened like this. Sometimes blog contributor Reed Carlson had been attending St. Matthew’s Episcopal parish for a rather short amount of time but was quickly in an energetic relationship with our wonderful rector and her husband, from whom he had taken a class on Anglicanism at Luther Seminary. The Episcopal Church has some money set aside for grants for those brave enough to risk campus ministry. At the initiative of our rector, in a very very short amount of time, Reed and our friend Aaron composed a plan and vision for a campus ministry to be developed at St. Matt’s. We just so happen to be right on the border of the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota and quite near a fair number of other colleges in the area.
As it turned out, the Episcopal Church was excited enough by their proposals that we received a grant to fund the ministry! So in the matter of a few months Reed and several others organized and planned this new flowering ministry and as of a week ago we are up and running.
Via Media (who’da thunk it right?) is a gathering which takes place every Sunday evening. Starting at six we have a free communal meal – lord knows how we college folk love free food – and at seven we move to a simple service. One Sunday a month the service follows a Taize order, and the three others are an ever-so-slightly simplified Evensong, of which one includes a Eucharist. We are already a part of the various campus groups at the U of M and we even have a sign painted…as well as a Facebook page, and most importantly fancy website.
Now in our second week, we’ve already had multiple visitors.
It has been of upmost priority that this ‘ministry’ be one of the local parish and not a pseudo-para-church organization. We’ve gotten nothing but support from them and we are very thankful for it. The goal has been, not to portion off a specific age group – 20-30 yr olds – and ‘target’ them, but that this be a gateway into the larger multi-generational life of the parish.
Additionally it has been hoped that students will quickly become a part of the life of Via Media. Already a visitor from the first week has played guitar the second and we are hoping to encourage this kind of thing.
Having spent time cutting my teeth on both ‘Street’ and ‘Relational’ evangelism, this has drug all sorts of questions on missiology out for me; questions I hope in time to raise here and there on the blog.
For now, pray that we will be successful in bearing witness to the Gospel.
I wonder if any have had any experience doing this sort of thing. What were your experiences? What would you have done differently and what did you find worked well? Given that we have for a long time as the Episcopal Church relied on our cultural inheritance to the expense sometimes of evangelism, in what ways might we learn to become a missional church?