Let The Buzz Begin! (Fall 2014)
September is all about beginnings. Whether it’s moving to a new city, starting a new job, beginning a new school term, or preparing for a busy Fall program in your parish. The notion of beginnings is everywhere; especially on our university campuses, as students from across Canada descend upon our city for the start of a new semester.
But, with all these beginnings also comes an ending. What I often encounter through my work on university campuses are students who tell me: “I used to go to church when I was a teenager. But, once I got to university I became disinterested in it.” Statistics show that more than two-thirds of young adults who attend church for at least a year in high school will stop attending for at least a year between the ages of 18-22. So what’s our role, as churches in helping students stay connected to their faith as they transition into university?
In the midst of the increasing dissatisfaction religion among millennials is an emerging culture of Christian ecumenism, focused on hospitality. Churches of all denominations are working together and changing the way church happens for university students.
Last year, a group of 20 churches in the Sandy Hill neighborhood and a host of uOttawa campus clubs launched a pilot project called: The uOttawa Church Crawl. The goal of the Crawl was simple; introduce students to Christian communities in their neighborhood. In it’s first year the Church Crawl saw resounding support from churches, clubs, and the university community. The Church Crawl offered students an alternative to the wild parties and pub-crawls typically associated with 101 week at uOttawa.
This year the Church Crawl is back by very popular demand. On September 6, more than 100 students will embark on a scavenger hunt around campus and the neighborhood, where they will encounter over 20 different church communities. In just one year, the Church Crawl has become an integral part of student life at uOttawa. I believe the event’s success can be attributed, in part, to it’s ecumenical nature. We’re not telling students where to go or what to think. We’re just letting them know we are here for them.
“The Church Crawl doesn’t just provide options for churches, but helps you find people who are either willing to help you take the steps you need to take, or they’re in the same shoes as you.” – uOttawa student, Samuel Chan
Our Diocese is a pioneer of another vibrant ecumenical ministry for students called The Open Table, a monthly meal for students that is provided by churches of many denominations. The goal is not to get more people in the pews, though that often happens. The Open Table provides a place for students to build community with one another over a home cooked meal. It’s showing God’s love in a practical way. This year The Open Table returns on the last Sunday of every month (September – March) at it’s new location, St. Albans/Centre 454. If you are not already connected with The Open Table, please consider becoming a partner congregation.
At St. Albans, we’re gearing up to welcome a core population of students back to our community with our annual “Welcome Back BBQ” on September 7. It’s like a big family reunion and an event that our community looks forward to every year. Friends re-unite after a summer away, and many more new friends join our community for the first time. I believe this year has the potential to be an incredible year for student ministry. I'm excited to see God working on campuses across the city and I'm honoured that St. Albans has the opportunity to be a part of it.
Youth/Young Adult Minister
St. Albans Church