A Introduction of Sorts

A Introduction of Sorts

Author:
April 01, 2018

A Introduction of Sorts

Before I spend much time talking about campus ministry at Oklahoma State, I’d like to spend a bit of time reflecting on my own experience as a college freshman back in the fall of 1996.  You see, in high school, growing up at St. Dunstan’s in Tulsa, the diocese was a real lifeline for me.  Having recently lost my father to an extended illness, it was my church family and diocesan friends that kept my head above water.  I like to say these are the people that held me up before I even knew I was falling.  I was active in the youth group at St. D’s, Happening, youth board, and summer camp.  I even attended provincial youth events and EYE.  If there was something the church offered, I was there.  And then I graduated. 

I arrived on the campus of Drury College (now university) that fall really desiring a church community to be a part of.  So, as the days before google dictated, with the guidance of the Yellow Pages, I started visiting churches on Sunday.  I realize now that I had set an impossible bar trying to compare these new churches to my church home at St. Dunstan’s but if we’re being honest, none of these new places seemed to give a single, solitary you know what that I had even showed up.  No one greeted me.  No one introduced themselves to me, save the priest as I walked out the door once the service was over.  This hurt.  Deeply.  I was beginning to wonder whether the church had anything to offer me any more, or if it even cared. 

In one final attempt to connect, I went to the church that was in walking distance to campus, already scheming the trouble I’d gladly seek out on saturday evenings since Sunday morning seemingly looked off the table.  And then it happened.  At the peace, a woman ran up to me and barely containing her excitement asked, “are you a college student?”  Turns out, she was the Episcopal chaplain at SW Missouri State and just happened to be visiting her parents that morning.  The thing is, I’m lucky, my story is a deviation from the norm.  A lot of young people in the church never connect with a new community once they leave for college.  I can say with no small amount of certainty that this chance interaction profoundly affected both my involvement in the church generally and my current vocation specifically. 

While I had made new friends and found new community, be it in the dorm or in the classroom, that was local and limited.  What I needed was something that tied me to the larger community of my extended church family back in Oklahoma and beyond.  This is what Susan, the chaplain, opened for me that Sunday.  She re-introduced me the the Body of Christ, found in that worshipping community of misfits and goofballs that welcomed me for who I was and who I was becoming.  She helped provide a space for exploring some pretty big questions and gave me permission to say, “I don’t know.”  But most importantly, Susan showed in word and action, that there was, in fact, a place for me in this church I love.  And for that I cannot thank her enough.  As you’ll soon see, her presence and investment in me as a freshman helped lay the foundation of my ministry at Oklahoma State which I’ll talk about next time.


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