Campus Minister Evan Young facilitating interfaith reflection and dialogue with students after service project with Monday Creek Restoration Project in New Straitsville.
Dear Friends of UCM,
For as long as I've served here at UCM, I have also served other organizations--either as the part-time minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, or as an intern minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta. And while I've loved my involvement with congregational ministry, while I treasure all I've experienced and learned in those settings, I also have to acknowledge that this bi-vocational path I've been on comes with a cost I'm simply no longer willing to pay.
It's been a trying, demanding, challenging semester at Ohio University, a semester that's called me to rooms and to tables and to conversations I've needed to be in, and where others have needed me. Many of you know about Megan Marzec, Student Senate, the "blood bucket" video, and the ensuing conversation on campus about Israel, Palestine, and justice. (For those who don't, I wrote a blog post about it for the Interfaith Youth Core--read it at www.ifyc.org/content/cultivate-peace.) Many of you probably remember the People's Climate March in New York City, and you might know that I went there with a busload of students UCM helped to organize. Most of you know what's going on now about Mike Brown and Ferguson and Eric Garner and John Crawford and Tamir Rice and all the seemingly endless examples that are showing us how entrenched institutional racism continues to be, and some of you know how students on this campus are coming together to respond to that.
As a campus minister, especially one serving a progressive interfaith campus ministry like UCM, I'm called to show up and to speak out at times like these. And I have. At the same time I'm called to be there for our interns, to be there for the people who come to Thursday Supper and Saturday Lunch, to be there for students who come to us for help with their own personal challenges and crises as well as their social justice concerns. And I'm called to work with and be in relationship with university faculty, staff, and administrators as we work together to shape the future of this institution. It's a full-time job at minimum--and, when I'm doing it the way I'm called, much more than that.
But I'm only a half-time campus minister. With another part-time ministry, with its own full slate of committee meetings, staff reports, pastoral care concerns, and administrative tasks. With its own expectations about which conferences I should attend, what organizations I should join, and how I should lead. Those expectations are legitimate and important and deserve everything I can give them. And, actually, more than I can give.
So, in this Christmas season, I have a wish. And UCM has a wish. And we're bringing that wish to you, because you can help.
My wish is to be, for once, ONE THING. I want to be a campus minister, through and through, and I want to serve United Campus Ministry with everything I have to give. Over the nine years I've been here, it's become absolutely clear to me that this is what I'm for, this is where I'm meant to be, doing this. So when my intern ministry ends on June 1, 2015, my wish is to be UCM's full-time campus minister.
UCM's wish, in this challenging and demanding time, is to be even more the campus ministry Ohio University needs. To continue to be at the forefront of work for social justice, but to have an even louder voice, an even greater impact, to change even more students through our interfaith bridge-building and community service work. And this semester more than ever, it's become absolutely clear that a key piece of our being more is, well, having more--more time, more presence, more service--of our campus minister.
Which brings us to you. Because embracing this larger vision of UCM is a leap of faith we need you to take with us. I've been blessed to be able to do this work because you've believed in the mission and ministry of UCM. Now, when I'm about to be able to commit even more to this work, and when UCM is committed to being and becoming more the ministry that's needed here, we need more--more of you (meaning more donors), and more from you (meaning more financial support from each of you).
You have it in your power to grant these wishes. You received this letter because you believe in what UCM does. So think about how much you'd believe in UCM doing more—and give accordingly. And then, share this letter, and your own stories and wishes about UCM, with someone you know who doesn't know about us. Help them to connect with us and with our work, and give them the opportunity to join us on this leap of faith. And remember—UCM is a registered 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. Your contributions are tax-deductible and will do more than simply finance operating, facilities, and programming expenses. They'll help make our wishes come true.
With warm Season's Greetings from the whole UCM family, and with all best wishes for the New Year--
PLEASE SUPPORT OUR MOST IMPORTANT ANNUAL FUNDRAISER! SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 6PM ATHENS COMMUNITY CENTER, 701 E. STATE STREET LIVE AUCTION BY SHAMROCK AUCTION SERVICE! SPECIAL MUSIC BY THE LOCAL GIRLS AND CALLIOPE FEMINIST CHOIR! LOCAL CRAFT BEER BY JACKIE O'S PUB AND BREWERY APPETIZERS BY AVALANCHE PIZZA, CASA NUEVA, PURPLE CHOPSTIX AND VINO DE MILO! RSVP AT firstname.lastname@example.org $25 - $100 (sliding scale donation) $15 (student/low income)
The UCM Benefit Auction is
generously sponsored by the following businesses and individuals: The Athens Real Estate
Company, Carpenter & Associates, Cetide, Jeffrey D. Chaddock, Judith Daso,
The Farmacy, Mara Giglio, Rev. Jan Griesinger, Laura Harrison and Christy
Zempter, Hocking Valley Bank, David LaPalombara & Robin Webb, Mac’s Thrifty
Shop, Vicki Marshall, Dick & Judy McGinn, Frank & Lorraine Myers, MS.
Accounting & Taxes, Inc., Peggy Pruitt, Rich Gardens Organic Farm,Carole Schloss, Snider,
Full and Stroh, Sarah Webb & Chad Burkett, Wendy Porter Financial Services
and Zoe Fine Dining. You can add your name to this impressive list!
As new interns at United Campus Ministry this summer, we decided that it is time to get to know more about the people who attend, volunteer and are involved with Thursday Supper. This week we are featuring Frances, a regular at Thursday Supper: 1. What's your name?
2. Where are you from? "Kentucky" 3. What is your favorite food? "Soup beans. I love soup beans." 4. Where is your favorite place in Athens? Why? "I don't know... here." 5. What do you like most about Thursday Supper? Why? "I guess...rice with beef stew. I think you had it two or three weeks ago." 6. What is an interesting fact about you that people might not know? "Love to sew...make quilts."
Really, I’d planned on a witty and entertaining holiday fundraiser, like last year and the year before. I thought I’d write a takeoff on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” “On the first day of Christmas, my interns (or maybe donors) gave to me. . . .” But I never got that one written, and I think it’s because there’s something I need to say more.
We’re not always clear with you about what we do here at UCM, and why. You know a lot about us--about Thursday Supper and Saturday Lunch, about the alternative winter and spring break service/learning trips, about our stream cleanups and community service days and our interfaith organizing and community-building and our ministry to the LGBTQ community and our public witness on social justice issues. And I know you care that we feed the people we feed, and help the people we help, and clean up the things we clean up, and say the things we say. But sometimes we give you the idea that those things are at the heart of what we do, when really they’re the means to an end. And the end is . . . well, it seems silly when I write it out like this, but the end is to save the world.
First, last, and always, we are a campus ministry. And the students we serve have grown up and are coming of age in a world in need of fixing, one plagued by massive economic inequality and injustice, environmental havoc, and violent discord between people of different faiths. They have every reason to despair, to concern themselves with their own survival and to disregard the plight of others--and yet they yearn for the chance, and the spiritual energy and discipline, to make a difference. What we really do at UCM is give them that chance, over and over again. And over and over again, they’re transformed by the experience. Honestly? You and I will not be around long enough to fix everything that’s broken. Any fixing that gets done will get done by people, young now, who have felt this kind of transformation, who have learned how to connect the life they’re choosing for themselves with the things they believe in their hearts. For almost 60 years UCM has been a part of transformations like that.
At the same time, the institutional expressions of our various faith traditions--the denominations, associations, and other structures that support our various communities and movements--face dwindling resources, increased costs associated with their various ministries, and a suspicion among many younger people that the institutions themselves are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Often over the last decade or two these institutions have responded by diverting funds away from campus ministry--especially from ecumenical and interfaith ministries that aren’t explicitly identified with a specific denomination. So that chunk of our annual income has been shrinking--and we can expect it to keep shrinking.
This change in our funding stream is coinciding with two other changes--one you know about, and one you may not:
Change #1: The global economic climate. We share your pain on this one; like you, UCM is trying to make do with less, and like many of you we find ourselves faced with the possibility that we’ll simply have to DO less. But then there’s
Change #2: Despite the money thing, the relevance and effectiveness of UCM’s ministry is growing by leaps and bounds, more every year and especially this year. Whether you measure it by numbers of students participating in our programs, depth of their participation, or awareness of our ministry and mission in the campus community, UCM continues to make a difference here--and the difference we make continues to grow!
To borrow a question from our Interfaith Impact meetings, though -- “so what?” For me the “so what?” is a two-part challenge from me to you.
Part #1: Think about UCM’s world-saving mission, our growing impact on the OU and Athens communities and our transformative influence on the students we meet. Decide how much that amazing work is worth to you. And support UCM to a degree that matches your commitment to the work we do.
Part #2: Help us to get to know the people you know who don’t know us. We need to reach more people with the good news of our ministry here at OU, and the best way to do that is to enlist you, who already believe in what we do, as our goodwill ambassador. Pick a few friends you think would feel as you do about us, and talk to them about why you support us. Encourage them to give us a call, drop by, or make a donation online through our website--we’d love to meet them!
Thanks to our generous donors, UCM has been blessed with meaningful work to do, and the means to do it, for nearly 60 years. Please consider making a contribution now to help us continue our world-saving work. UCM is a registered 501(C)(3) non-profit organization--your contributions are tax-deductible and will finance operating, facilities, and programming expenses. Thank you for your generous ongoing support--we couldn’t do it without you!