Recollections at Age 88 by J. Emmett Herndon

Recollections at Age 88 by J. Emmett Herndon

Let me introduce myself. From 1955-90, I spent 35 years in campus ministry at Stetson University and Emory University.  While at Emory, I also worked with faculty groups at Agnes Scott College, Georgia State University and Oglethorpe University.  And inherited the ministry at Georgia Tech.  I am now 88 years old living at Lenbrook, a retirement center in Atlanta, where I lead a Great Decisions Discussion Group. So, here goes.

I remember-

being nominated to be the NCMA president but losing the election to a friend at Duke;

being a dorm chaplain in a large women’s dormitory with office hours 9-12 P.M. on Sunday nights;

having 60 nursing students attend a series on Pain, Suffering and Death, an idea I stole from Harry Smith at UNC;

developing special ministries with medical students;

moderating 8 faculty-staff discussion groups monthly;

coordinating the programs of the Biomedical Ethics Group for 18 years;

getting 25 phone calls on a Sunday night from women with unwanted and unplanned pregnancies;

being a plaintiff in our case against Georgia’s restrictive abortion laws;

taking 80 students from Emory and the Atlanta University complex to an ecumenical conference in Athens, Ohio;

our stopping at a barbeque place in Ohio for dinner and having Father Scott and me persuade those good old boys that they should serve us in their dining room;

training students and providing draft counseling for students and faculty and winning every case;

being charged with heresy by a nearby Presbyterian Church and it almost went to trial;

a committee that I chaired to plan the college conference at Montreat deciding to move to Banner Elk because of certain racial restrictions on conferees;

hate mail I received on occasions and spook telephone calls;

choosing to stay in campus ministry after being considered to be a dean in student affairs at two universities. (Editor’s Note: “Why? Because of the money, my high paying salary?”)


Tom McCormick, Health and Human Values: Reflections on a Ministry in Higher Education

“Health and Human Values: Reflections on a Ministry in Higher Education”
Thomas R. McCormick, MDiv, DMin.
February 2014

     In 1965, the career pathway that I had imagined for myself was interrupted by an unanticipated fork in the road.   One branch was familiar territory, the other an unknown.   After serving for five years in my first assignment post-seminary as pastor of a small, racially integrated congregation in the High Point community in West Seattle, I was ready to move on.  On one hand, Rev. Loren Lair, Regional Minister in Iowa was inviting me to return to the region where we had become acquainted.  (I had graduated from Drake Divinity School, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa in 1960)  He claimed that with five years of pastoral ministry under my belt, I was ready to step up and take a rapidly growing suburban congregation in eastern Iowa with a robust budget, a good salary and a new brick parsonage.  He made it sound appealing.  It appeared to be a far cry from our current situation, we had three small children and our family of five was struggling to make ends meet on the low-end salary typical for ministers right out of seminary.  A novice in ministry, I was facing the challenges of holding a disparate congregation together while forging a ministry aimed at serving both halves of the congregation.  Half of our members lived in the High Point housing project, home to approximately five-thousand individuals with low income, many single-parent families on public assistance and elderly citizens whose sole source of income was their monthly Social Security checks.

     The other half of the congregation lived in West Seattle proper, a typical middle-class community, whose citizens had on average a higher level of education and a higher level of employment.  Many were Boeing employees and the average income was four to five times greater than their fellow members on the east side of 35th SW.  With half of our members below the poverty level, we were engaged with what one of our leaders branded as “constant crisis.”  In addition to the usual worship and education opportunities, we also created a pantry to assist those who ran out of food before the end of the month; a large “clothes closet” stocked with used clothing; cooking classes to help moms learn how to use surplus commodities; and a pre-school for four year old children in the project.   On the other hand, Rev. Loren Arnett, an associate minister in the Regional office of the Christian Church in Washington-North Idaho, was inviting me to consider applying for a newly opened position as campus minister at the University of Washington. 

            I must admit that although I knew our church combined their support with other denominations to employ campus ministers at our various state universities and colleges, I really had no idea about what kind of work campus ministers actually carried out.  My only firsthand experience was from my own college days attending Northwest Christian College and the University of Oregon in Eugene, where the campus minister organized Sunday morning Bible study classes and various fellowship events and service projects involving students.

            I resolved to visit the UW campus and talk to students, faculty and a few administrators that I had previously met to discuss what campus ministry might entail in the mid ‘60s.  In hind- sight, my investigation was quite limited, just scratching the surface, nothing profound.  Yet, I began to become intrigued about the possibilities of a kind of ministry that would be very different from the pastoral model with which I was so familiar.  Thus, I applied for the position; I was hired and began my work January, 1966.  My former Iowan mentor was convinced I had made the wrong choice.  When I informed Dr. Lair of my decision, he responded that I was making a grave mistake and that such a move would not further my career in ministry in the least and that he was disappointed not to have me serving a church in the Iowa region.

            For years on the UW campus, the Baptist-Disciple House had served as the home of a cooperative campus ministry devoted primarily to the service of university students from these two denominations.  However, recently, a restructuring brought the United Church of Christ into the mix and a more ecumenical ministry was envisioned as well as various forms of ministry to non-church-related students.  The ministry was renamed the “Koinonia Center” and moved to a newly built structure adjacent to the NW corner of the campus where I joined the senior campus minister, Rev. John Ross, a Baptist.  I began by assisting him in carrying out his existing programs and “learning the ropes,” so that I could cover all the bases the following year when he took a sabbatical year in Japan.  We had a fairly typical program with a Sunday morning coffee hour, followed by a discussion group, after which students dispersed to attend the local churches of their choosing.  On Sunday evenings we offered an ongoing study group examining issues of the day.  On Wednesday evenings local church women provided a fellowship dinner for students which were followed by a guest speaker and discussion.  However, the board of directors had requested that during my first year on campus I should reserve time to explore what campus ministry could or should look like in the future—a challenging proposition.

            In my exploratory year I began an informal investigation into possibilities for new forms and expressions of campus ministry.   I reflected on the current situation where the Presbyterians had their Westminster Foundation, the Methodists had Wesley House, the Lutherans had Luther House, the Catholics had Newman Center, and it appeared to me that all of these centers were providing duplicate services, engaging students primarily from their own denominations in similar opportunities for worship, study, fellowship and service during their university years.  I found myself wondering if it might be possible to form an ecumenical cooperative approach where the current activities could continue, yet be integrated ecumenically rather than segregated denominationally.  Such a move could avoid duplication of effort and free up time and energy to create and engage in new and different forms of ministry.  I suggested this idea to our board (already composed of three cooperating denominations) and found them enthusiastic about such further steps in cooperative ministry.  I also fostered this idea in discussions among the local campus ministers who met weekly for support and limited coordination of effort.  Gradually, our cooperative ministry began to emerge.

            By now I had been appointed by my denomination (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ) to serve as a board representative on a national group called United Ministries in Higher Education (UMHE).   At the national level, Baptists, Disciples, United Church of Christ, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Evangelical United Brethren, had created UMHE to develop programs at the national level that would provide ministries in higher education and to serve as a “think-tank” for envisioning  new forms of ministry in higher education at the local level as well.  I could imagine a similar constellation at the local level involving a “united ministry” at the University of Washington, as well as at the other campus ministries across the state of Washington.  The spirit of ecumenism was strong and by the early ‘70’s, with major assistance from Rev. David Royer (UCC) who joined our staff in the late ‘60’s, the ground work was laid for these major denominations to forge a new ecumenical organization which was named “Campus Christian Ministry” at the University of Washington.  But that is David’s story, and I’ll rely on him to contribute a chapter on this amazing story that led not only to a “common program” but to the purchase of a building that was owned in common, with shared secretarial staff and a united budget, as the other denominational centers around the campus were closed in favor of participation in this ecumenical movement.

            In the meantime, my explorations into new forms of ministry led me into conversations with students, faculty and administrators at the UW, as well as on other campuses.  I chose fifty faculty members at the UW who were considered outstanding in their fields and asked for an interview.  100% of these busy scholars agreed to grant me an hour of their time for an interview.  Primarily, I asked each to describe their work as teachers and researchers, which they did with relish.  They were doing some great things.  For example, Dr. Ted Phillips had recently joined the faculty at the School of Medicine to create a new department, the Department of Family Medicine.  Dr. Belding Scribner was leading the way in providing renal dialysis for patients with chronic kidney failure.  Dr. Donnell Thomas was pioneering bone marrow transplants for the treatment of children with leukemia.  Near the end of the hour, I asked if they could imagine any ways a campus minister could be supportive of their endeavors.  From these fifty interviews, 47 said no, they couldn’t imagine any ways . . . but three faculty members, all from the medical school, said yes.  One said that new developments in medicine were leading to ethical issues and it would be great to have someone lead regular discussion groups for medical students inquiring into these.  A second claimed that in spite of advances in medicine, all will eventually die, and medical students were largely unprepared to deal with dying patients and their families.  A third faculty claimed that although students were taught the physiology of reproduction, there was no instruction in human sexuality and that such an inquiry would be a welcome addition to the curriculum.  Of course, it was understood that these would be non-credit, “extracurricular” offerings.  In all three cases, I was invited by these faculty members to provide leadership for the seminars, while they provided meeting space.

            I found my board very receptive to the idea that I might organize informal study groups on these three topics, and cooperate with faculty in the medical school who had identified such a need.  It had also become clear to me by this time that campus ministry had traditionally been an “upper campus” affair, serving students primarily in the liberal arts.  There was no evidence that a campus minister had previously crossed Pacific Avenue, the dividing point between “upper campus” and entered the domain of the “lower campus” which housed the various health sciences including medicine, nursing, dentistry, etc.  I was happy to forge new trails in this realm of academia and in this part of the campus that had seemingly been overlooked by campus ministers in previous generations.

            In conjunction with my three new faculty colleagues, I organized three discussion groups for medical students.  At noon on Wednesdays we gathered with brown bag lunches in a conference room reserved by the faculty sponsor, who also brought homemade cookies, where I served as convener-moderator for discussions on topics in medical ethics.  We met for the first eight weeks of the quarter, thus respecting the pressures of finals week on student life.  I also formed a discussion group on issues related to death and dying which met in the evening, after the core curriculum had ended.  I was impressed that students would bring a snack and stick around for an additional hour or so at the end of a long day in the “required” class room, for this “elective” discussion.  Thirdly, I organized a seminar on human sexuality, as with the other seminars, of eight weeks duration.  I discovered that over the course of three quarters, some students rotated through all three seminars, while some simply chose one seminar of interest.  Both students and faculty encouraged me to offer these fall, winter, and spring quarters.  The student response to these offerings was robust, and I worked hard to provide background research and reflective questions for our discussions.  The outline of a teaching ministry was forming.

            An unanticipated outgrowth of these seminars was a request from a growing number of students for counseling for various issues. These students saw me as a friendly ally who might help them deal with the stresses of medical school.  Others sought me out because the demands of medical school were creating stresses in their relationships or marriages.  Others suffered from text anxiety or depression.  Some were uncertain if medicine was the right career choice. Many wanted help in choosing which pathway in medicine they were best suited for.  As time went on, nursing students also sought me out for counseling.   I had majored in pastoral counseling in seminary and felt that responding to such requests was a valid part of my ministry.  Sometimes I met students in a spare room in the medical school or nursing school, but most came to the campus ministry center for counseling.  It was clear that my ministry was centering more and more on human values in the “health sciences.”

            When I was hired, the board offered to grant me a sabbatical year for study after I had served for a minimum of five years.  The offer stipulated they would pay full salary for a six month sabbatical or one-half salary for a full year’s sabbatical.  After careful exploration of possibilities, I chose to enter a Doctor of Ministry program at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, conjoint with a Fellowship in medical ethics at the Institute for Religion and Human Development at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.  Rev. Kenneth Vaux, PhD., served as director for the bioethics program.  In 1970, Vaux had authored Who Shall Live: Medicine, Technology and Ethics. Just a year prior to my entrance into the program, he had convened an important national conference on “ethical issues in medicine” with lectures from anthropologist Margaret Meade, ethicists Joseph Fletcher and Paul Ramsey, heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, MD, and others prominent in the newly emerging discipline of “bioethics.”  My sabbatical year was one of the most intriguing and exciting years of my life.   In addition to the class work at SMU and the medical ethics seminars in the Bioethics Program in Houston with Vaux, Benedict Ashley, PhD, and Albert Marachewski, PhD, I also sought out opportunities to observe surgery and clinical procedures to become better acquainted with current medical practices.  I watched the famed heart surgeon Michael DeBakey perform a heart valve replacement, I observed electroshock therapy, and I followed primary care physicians in their daily routines of outpatient care.   I continued my studies in the subsequent summer quarters until I completed my dissertation and graduated in 1976 with a Doctor of Ministry with a major concentration in medical ethics, the first graduate in their program with such a major.

            I returned with relish to the campus post-sabbatical in the fall of 1973, bringing fresh enthusiasm and insight for the seminars that had been on hold during my absence.  I was excited to return to teaching and counseling on the Health Science Campus.  My board was enthusiastic about the direction of my ministry and fully supported my work.  I entertained a high volume of requests for lectures on bioethical topics in the local churches and began publishing articles in both the secular and religious press on issues in bioethics.

            Shortly after my return to Seattle after sabbatical, Lane Smith, religion editor for the Seattle Times, published an article one Saturday evening on the religion page entitled “Local minister studies ethics in Texas.”  Lane had interviewed me because he felt my interests in this new field called “medical ethics” would be of interest to his readership.  On Monday morning following the publication of this article, I received a call from Dr. Charles Bodemer, Chair of the Department of Biomedical History, University of Washington, inviting me to meet and discuss our mutual interest in medical ethics.  In our subsequent conference, he expressed a longstanding interest in expanding the department beyond the history of medicine and into contemporary issues in medical ethics.  Our ongoing discussions led to him hire me as a lecturer on a one-third time basis in the summer of 1974 to create elective courses in bioethical topics for the School of Medicine.  Thus, in Fall Quarter 1974, I offered the first formal course in bioethics at the UW School of Medicine.  In August of 2014, I will celebrate 40 years as a teacher of bioethics at the UW.  The name of the department changed, first to the Department of Medical History and Ethics, and more recently to the Department of Bioethics and Humanities, and there are now eight faculty members in bioethics and one historian, Jack Berryman, PhD.

            In the beginning of my tenure at the School of Medicine, all of my courses were electives.  Many of my students, at the conclusion of a course, would comment that “courses in bioethics should be required in medical school.”  One day I discussed with Dr. Bodemer his feelings about requesting a few hours for a required component of medical ethics in the core curriculum.  He was very supportive of the idea, but emphasized that I would need to convince the curriculum committee of the importance of such an innovation.  Subsequently, I was given a spot on the agenda of the curriculum committee where I presented a bit of the history of my bioethics teaching in the elective curriculum and presented a request that I be granted permission to teach an introductory course in bioethics as part of the required curriculum either in the first or second year of medical school.  In the discussion following, the members of the committee, most of whom chaired courses in the required curriculum, spoke strongly of the merit and desirability of my proposal.  I was elated.  Then the chair reminded the members of the resolution that no new curricular hours be added without eliminating a corresponding number of hours of the existing curriculum.  When he asked who might be willing to “give up” a few hours from their course offerings, each and every member protested vigorously that they didn’t have enough hours at present for anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc. and couldn’t possibly give up any hours, even for such a good cause. 

            This meeting was my first lesson in “medical school politics.”  Hours in the required curriculum are equated with power in this system, and no one wanted to relinquish that power.  Although I came away feeling discouraged, to my surprise and pleasure, some of these course chairs began inviting me to come as their “guest speaker” to address ethical issues, (of course within the framework of their course.)   Nonetheless, I was pleased at their receptivity and began serving as an invited speaker in several of the required courses in the curriculum, and over the years my contributing hours continued to increase.  Eventually, for example, I was asked by the director of our Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) course not only to provide introductory lectures in bioethics in the first year ICM course, but also to chair a two-day program on “Caring for Patients with Terminal Illness,” for the ICM-II for the entire second year medical school class.  I teamed with an emergency department physician, for many years, to co-lead a tutor group for students in ICM-I, assisting in their formation as professionals.  Thus, my role both in both the elective curriculum and in the required curriculum increased over the years. 

            In the spring of 1980, I did a three month Fellowship in “Teaching in the Clinical Context” at the University of Tennessee, Memphis Medical School Campus, with David Thomasma, PhD, Director, and Terrence Ackerman, PhD and Carson Strong, PhD.  The faculty provided a context for the Fellows to make rounds in several clinical settings each week, in order to discuss ethical issues emerging in that context.  I rounded in the NICU at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, in Family Medicine at St. Francis Hospital, in Oncology at the City of Memphis Hospitals, and in psychiatry in the VA hospital.   This Fellowship enhanced my medical terminology and improved my understanding of diseases and their treatment so that I was better prepared to discuss the medical-ethical issues as they arose in a variety of settings.

In 1987, under the leadership of the Department Chair, Dr. Albert Jonsen, we created a week long CME event entitled “The Summer Health Care Ethics Seminar” which has continued for the past 27 years with an average attendance of about 100 physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers etc., offered the first week of every August.  This acclaimed CME event (Dr. Dudzinski, my co-chair, and I received an award for “Outstanding CME Event-2008,” from Dr. Paul Ramsey, Dean of the School of Medicine) continues to train members of ethics committees and ethics consultation teams from across the country.

            Earlier, I mentioned my incidental involvement as a counselor and sometimes mentor to medical students.  In retrospect, I suppose that my exposure to medical students in our ethics seminars led them to see me as a friendly and supportive individual with a natural interest in their well-being, so that when the going got tough, I was a natural choice for support.  My counseling load increased.  With the support of my board, I envisioned the provision of counseling without any fees as a part of my ministry in the health sciences.   In an unfortunate four year period, there were three medical student suicides.  The death of these students led   Dean Robert Van Citters to appoint a special task force charged with examining “stress in medical education.”  Unbeknownst to me, many of the medical students, when asked by the committee, “what do you do to cope with stress in medical school?” responded, “I go talk with Dr. McCormick.”  Following the committee’s investigation, I received a call for an appointment with Dean Van Citters in which he discussed the work of his committee and then requested that I commence a formal counseling service for medical students, stipulating that my job description and my hours would be expanded.   During these years I was balancing my work as a campus minister, my work as a lecturer in bioethics, and now I was adding a third job description as “medical school counselor.”  I literally had three offices and was working about 60 hours per week; most of my elective courses were offered in the evenings.

            In 1985, Acting Dean, Theodore (Ted) Phillips recognized that a shift was needed and suggested that he hire me as Director of Counseling for the School of Medicine, a full time salaried position.  This arrangement would allow me to continue teaching bioethics (as my time allowed) so that my passion for teaching and counseling could continue to find expression.  At that time, I resigned from what was by then a part-time position on the Campus Ministry staff at CCM so that I could devote my full time to the medical school work.  Somewhat ironically, the work that I had begun, teaching and counseling, as an expression of my campus ministry and funded by the churches, had developed into a medical school faculty position, funded by the university.

            Space doesn’t allow for much detail; however, I would be remiss in not addressing a connection between events at the local and national level.  As mentioned earlier, I was a delegate to the board of United Ministries in Higher Education (UMHE), formed by the commitment of resources and staff of eight major denominations to work in higher education at the national level while providing research and guidance in support of local manifestations of ministries on campus.  Dr. Verlyn Barker was the chief executive officer for this organization and provided committed, insightful and faithful leadership.  One of the programs growing out of UMHE, the “Health and Human Values Program” was a precursor organization to the Society for Health and Human Values, led by Dr. Ronald McNuer.  Another was a group simply called “Ministers in Medical Education.”  I became a member of both groups.  The Society was devoted to larger aspirations such as support for incorporating course work in medical ethics into every medical school curriculum.  At the time I started teaching, the UW was one of only a dozen medical schools that offered formal curricula in medical ethics, as reported by the Task Force for Human Values in 1972.  Today, all 126 member medical schools in the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) have multiple offerings in bioethics.  The Society for Health and Human Values later joined with two other organizations to form today’s American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH).

The Society for Health and Human Values usually met just before the annual AAMC meetings and of course in the same city.  The Ministers in Medical Education (MME) group came a day earlier and members spent time sharing reports of their teaching ventures in the various medical schools across the country.  Here I should mention that many of the earliest contributors to medical ethics were theologically trained and were thus more comfortable with what was then called “applied ethics” than were students from typical philosophy departments, who were more interested in issues related to meta-ethics.  Ideas shared in the MME conferences often led to the formation of new ethics electives in the medical schools served by these innovators. 

Through the MME group I met Rev. David Duncombe, PhD.   Although well known in recent years for his 40 day fasts to bring the attention of congress to bear on problems such as world hunger and starving children, or nuclear disarmament, at that time he was Yale Medical School’s first chaplain.   He recounted for us how in his first year at Yale he was asked by the gross anatomy instructor to be present in the human dissection labs as a way of supporting students in this transition from layperson to medical-professional.  At the end of that first year, he led a memorial service with students, honoring the cadavers from whom they had learned so much about human anatomy.   He became so knowledgeable about anatomy that the course chair appointed him to serve as a teaching assistant in the course, a role he continued for many years.  He left Yale to serve as chaplain to the medical school at UCSF where he continued until his retirement.  Interestingly, some years later, Daniel Graney, PhD, head of Washington State Willed Body Program, and UW professor of anatomy asked if I would conduct a memorial service for the families of the donors to his program.  For over a decade, I conducted such a ceremony for those who had donated their bodies and accompanied the families to a local cemetery where the UW had a burial plot with a vault containing the ashes of approximately one hundred donors each year.  There were many stories like David’s and mine from ministers who had a role in teaching bioethics in medical schools in those early days, before departments of philosophy reached a turning point and began preparing doctoral students in bioethics who now populate the departments charged with teaching bioethics in medical schools. 

 In today’s world, prepared as I was then with an MDiv. and a DMin. there is small likelihood that I would be offered a job in medical education.  However, forty years ago, I was at the right place at the right time and a door opened where I could be of service.  I found a niche in academia that felt right and good and I’ve never looked back nor had any regrets about following the path that opened before me.   There is a large ripple effect in patient benefit from our work in encouraging the professional development of ethically trained, compassionate physicians who are willing to devote themselves to the service of the sick and suffering.

I now have first and second year medical students who approach me on the first day after class and introduce themselves as the son or daughter of a mom or dad who had been in my ethics classes a generation earlier, claiming they had received parental instruction, “You’ve got to take McCormick’s ethics class!”  Many of my former ethics class students are now in key positions of leadership, serving as clinicians, on medical school faculties, and as medical directors in hospitals.  I have had wonderful opportunities to mentor graduate students and junior faculty members.  I’ve enjoyed contributing to the body of medical ethics literature through many publications.  I’ve been able to provide lectures for professional societies across this country and participate in invited lectureships in Canada, German, Italy, Taiwan and Japan.

One somewhat humorous postscript to my personal story follows.  In 2000, at my wife’s encouragement, I stepped down to a 40% position at the UW, with the intent of transitioning toward retirement.  My wife’s family all live in Phoenix, Arizona, and our plan was to spend winter quarter in the sun and to spend time with her family.  Through a variety of coincidences, after being invited to provide a lecture in bioethics at Midwestern University Medical School, Glendale Branch, I was invited to become an adjunct professor of bioethics in that school where I have taught a three credit elective on various bioethical topics every year since 2001.  Further, in discussions with the Dean of Students at the medical school shortly after arriving, he was inspired by learning of the counseling services that I had helped pioneer at the UW.  He invited me to take a position on his staff where I became the first medical school counselor at Midwestern—a job that I agreed to take only to get the program started, and after working at 50% time for four months,  subsequently hired my replacement.  As I started that winter quarter in Arizona, teaching bioethics and counseling medical students, my wife quipped, “Congratulations McCormick, you didn’t really retire, you just replicated your UW positions in Arizona!”   

In conclusion, from the perspective of forty years in the field, it is clear that major changes have occurred in medical education.  Currently, all of the medical schools participating in AAMC, as well as most of the osteopathic medical schools across the country are offering either required or elective courses in bioethics.  Residency training programs incorporate ethics conferences as a staple in their curricula.  Bioethics is an important component for continuing medical education (CME) programs for physicians in practice.  National Institutes of Health (NIH) now requires that doctoral students in the sciences, particularly those that might use human subjects in research, participate in required ethics training.   Across the USA, hospitals have developed ethics committees charged with resolving conflicts, teaching ethics and providing ethics consultation.  The Joint Commission (TJC), formerly known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) has made ethics committees in hospitals a requirement for accreditation.  The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) is serving as a major contributor to the establishment of norms for evaluating the competence of ethics consultation services.  The Report of the ASBH, entitled  Core Competencies for Healthcare Ethics Consultation, 2011, is now in its second edition. One can anticipate that such efforts will stimulate ethics consultants to engage in continuing education and will most likely lead to the certification of those providing such services so that standards of competency remain high.  Even in the face of these positive developments, much work remains to be done.  Our citizens must become educated, not only in the role of individual choices toward healthy living, but also in the importance of social determinants of health so that changes can be made at the systemic level to improve the health of our nation.   Finally, the principles of justice and  of respect for persons imply that every person should have access to decent health care.  I am pleased that local campus ministers contributed to these changes.  The church should acknowledge that organizations such as United Ministries in Higher Education had a creative hand in supporting such changes, and those programs at the national level, such as the Health and Human Values Project, played an important role in fostering work toward a better future.






What Fallout from the In-Between by Wayne Bryan

Well. . . it began when my phone rang in the Fall of 1961 and my friend Pat said, “I thought you would like to know that the Pastoral Search Committee here in Nacogdoches has your name on their list… and I, for one, am encouraging them to choose you!”

“Oh, tell them to forget it.” I replied.  “I’m very happy where I am.  Besides I’ve been here for less than three years.  And the other thing is that I don’t have any desire to live in East Texas.”

Four months later I was installed as the Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nacogdoches, Texas and Pat was the church secretary.  We were quite a pair!

And. . . it ended in the late Fall of 1989 when Mimi and I packed our car and preceded the moving van on its trip from Austin, Texas eastward to Columbia, South Carolina.  Or, I guess to be really truthful, it ended several months earlier when my supportive board members in United Campus Ministry of Austin counseled kindly with me to say that we were not going to have enough money to continue our enterprise and they would advise me to start looking for a new job.

A geographer and an historian surveying the “in-between” of that beginning and that ending would present extremely different reports. 

The geographer would survey what appeared to be relevant street addresses and discover no evidence of campus ministry programs in Nacogdoches, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Gainesville, Florida; and Austin, Texas with my name attached.  The easy conclusion would be that, if they ever existed, they are all gone. Vanished. Closed.  And such is the truth!

The historian would search differently, probing the “files of impact, the venues of effect” in the lives of people now scattered around the world, and say something dramatic, like: “Oh, my!”

I can’t do anything about the elements of the geographer’s report.  But I can speak some words about what the historian discovered.  So let’s talk about the pieces of the in-between.

1962-1966 Stephen F. Austin State University

Nacogdoches, Texas

When I arrived in Nacogdoches it was to be the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church.  There was no history of ministry in relation to SFASU except an occasional faculty member or student who came to worship.  But I did not allow this vacuum to continue.  Within a very few weeks I was “hanging out” at the student union and the faculty club.  I had arrived in March and by the beginning of the Fall Semester of 1962 enough contacts had been made that I started a Sunday School Class for students.  And shortly after that I had put posters out on campus for United Campus Christian Fellowship which was organized and meeting on Sunday evenings for dinner, study, and fellowship.

Quick fall-outs from this were students appearing for worship services and volunteering to be part of our music program.  And, as one might expect, my office at the church (and the tables in the Student Union on campus) became the site of counseling and advising for students.

This relationship with students on campus, in classes for which I enrolled, and at the church was pretty well matched with similar experiences with faculty and staff.  In the faculty club and in private homes where we were frequent guests, my pastoral relationship and personal friendships expanded.

For the last two years I was in Nacogdoches, the campus ministry also included The Exit, a coffee house which we organized for Friday nights using the fellowship hall at the church.  This program drew lots of students and faculty who were not participants in UCCF or in the worship and congregational life of the church. Some of my best relationships with students were those which I developed here at The Exit.

And remember, I was still full-time pastor of the church, director of my Presbytery’s camp and conference program, and writing Sunday School curriculum for our national church to be used all across the country.

All of this continued at a healthy pace until I took the next step of filing my vita with United Ministries in Higher Education.  In the summer of 1966 there was that second phone call! This time the call was not from a friend but from the chairman of the board of United Campus Christian Ministry at Drake University.  The move came in October!

1966-1975 Drake University

Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa United Campus Christian Ministries Commission (later named the Iowa Commission for United Ministries in Higher Education) was the parent organization for ministries at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and Drake University.  It was the joint ministry of the Presbyterians, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ, American Baptists, and Church of the Brethren.  That state commission employed the staff for the four universities and provided the funding as contributed by the five statewide denominational judicatories.  There were a total of nine staff members when I began.

In my position at Drake, the diversity of the job and the breadth of personal interests were as broad as in my previous positions.  A local board, as the representative of the state agency, oversaw and directed the ministry.  The basic part of the job was teaching short term courses on issues related to the emphases of the local board, counseling students, directing worship, publishing a newspaper related to the religious and social issues of our concern, developing personal and professional relationships with faculty and staff, and managing all the structures of the board, the student association, finances, and communications.

Much of that sounds like a list which almost every campus minister would make about his/her job.  What I think I will do is to point to some of the unique tasks, opportunities, and responsibilities of those nine years.  I will try to keep this as short as possible.

  1. Serving as a liaison to the Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs, nourishing      the great working relationship between Student Affairs and campus ministry.  Much later, in 2010, Dr. Donald Adams, our VP for Student Affairs, said to me in an email:  You were the one, along with Nick, Harold (campus ministers) who made my first year much better than it would have been without you!! You were an important colleague. (After naming about ten students, all who were active in our ministry and student leaders on campus) he ended his note with: “A great group of people, a wonderful time for all of us to be together at Drake in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Thanks so much for keeping in touch.
  2. Organizing and leading semester long study groups (generally called “Covenant Communities”) for students on a variety of topics which included contemporary theological issues, cultural issues, human sexuality, the      nature of the human, creative educational designs, etc.
  3. Sharing management of the Coffee House (named “The Cellar”) with the United Methodist campus minister with whom we also shared a building. This had a number of purposes – social gathering, venue for displaying musical and artistic talents, discussing social justice issues, outreach to recruit participants in other parts of the campus ministry program.
  4. Participating in unique counseling assignments including draft counseling and problem pregnancy counseling (this latter was in a national organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood).
  5. Producing arts weeks at the ministry center for three or four years.  This featured student art from Drake and other Iowa colleges/universities as well as art produced by people in the community.

6.  Serving as a strong force for the university in the lives of its freshmen.  This included: creating and leading a simulation named “Freshman Year” and a slide show introducing the Office of Student Affairs, both of which opened the university’s Freshman Orientation Summer Program for 4 years (and the simulation was published and used by more than 100 other universities); and creating and directing “Freshman? Freshman!”, a semester-long orientation and support program in which about 50% of the freshman class participated and which had a dramatic impact on student retention.

  1. Serving as an adjunct faculty to college of education on creative teaching. I began an independent company called: “The Creative Educator” where I wrote and published a whole series of simulation games.
  2. Writing and publishing articles, reports, interpretation, etc. on campus ministry programs, structure, and governance for the national publications of United Ministry in Higher Education.
  3. Creating      teams of students who interpreted student activism and campus unrest at      presentations before church groups, civic clubs, etc. and developing the      “40-Hour Weekend Program” introducing the public at large to college life      and issues of the 60’s and 70’s.   These developed many good community      relationships for campus ministry.

10.  Acting as a resource on leadership and service to Pan-Hellenic and the Inter-Fraternity Council.  Their generous response was electing me to Gamma Gamma (the Greek national honorary fraternity).

11.  Speaking in local churches and national conferences on the role, purpose, and content of campus ministry and serving (very often) as a visiting preacher in churches around the state.

  1. Attending Presbyterian General Assembly (the national governing body) meeting in Omaha where I chaired the Family Life committee.
  2. Continuing to write Sunday School curriculum for the national Presbyterian Office of  Education for use in congregations around the country.
  3. Serving, in the summer of 1969, as director of a 40-student summer staff at Ghost Ranch (a national Presbyterian conference center) in New Mexico.
  4. Hosting,  in 1975, a national conference on community college ministry under the auspices of United Ministries in Higher Education.  The major agenda was a 2-day long simulation which I had created.

16.  Accepting the position as State Executive for Iowa UMHE, overseeing a 2-year restructure of Iowa UMHE and its four Centers – Drake, Iowa State, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa.  This was a part time assignment while my regular ministry at Drake continued.

And . . . it was in this period of restructure (and reduction of the Iowa UMHE staff from 9 to 5) that I looked around and, although I was encouraged to stay on at Drake, accepted the call to become the campus minister at the Disciples-Presbyterian Center at the University of Florida.

1975-78 University of Florida and Santa Fe Community College

Gainesville, Florida

This was a different world!

The Disciples-Presbyterian Center was a cooperative ministry of the United Presbyterian Church U.S.A., the Presbyterian Church U.S., and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  It was housed in a building which it owned across the street from the College of Business and between the Methodist Student Center and the Episcopal Student Center.

As at Drake University, the basic part of the job was developing and maintaining a student association with weekly meetings, teaching short-term courses on issues related to the emphases of the local board, counseling students, directing worship, developing personal and professional relationships with faculty and staff, and managing all the structures of the board, the student association, finances, and communications

Programmatically, I tried to find my way in some of the same areas that had been successful at Drake.  First I tried to build on the basic student group who participated in study sessions and social events at the campus ministry center.  This was always a small group, supported by the fact that four male students lived in the apartment at the center and provided much of the contact and leadership for the student group.

Because the Vice-President for Student Affairs, the Dean of Students, and four or five other student affairs staff people had been on the staff at Iowa State University just before coming here and knew Don Adams and the staff at Drake, building relationships with this group of professionals was very easy.  Because of that relationship and my rather rapid rise in leadership with the campus ministers, I was soon meeting with the Dean of Students staff weekly as the representative of campus ministry.  This gave me a visibility on campus and a wider awareness of life at the university.

One of the helpful structures that came from this relationship was a response network for emergencies and needs.  We formed about 7 or 8 teams, each composed of a campus minister, a student life professional, a counselor, a campus police member, and a faculty leader.  Those teams were available to be the “first responders” whenever there were emergencies on campus.  They also were the ones to analyze situations and organize larger responses when needed.

As would be expected, I was also soon engaged in freshman orientation and its larger system of development.  Although this never grew to the size we had developed at Drake, I was able to bring some of the same insights and dynamics from my earlier experience and my doctoral program research into the structure here.

One new and successful part of the ministry was campus ministry at Santa Fe Community College, which was located on the west side of Gainesville.  The first steps were getting acquainted with the student services staff and faculty of the college. Since the college was outside the city, a large number of students rode the city bus to campus and the transfer point on that bus line was just in front of our campus ministry building and students sat on our porch while they waited for the next bus.

I took advantage of that bus stop by hanging around the porch and engaging in conversations with the students.  Then I started having Breakfast at the Bus Stop on Thursday mornings. This meant providing coffee and donuts, conversation and information about the college, friendships and, eventually, counseling sessions that developed.

In my usual community building style, I started introducing campus ministers and local pastors to the faculty and staff of the community college.  This group became a strong resource for counseling, advocacy, and support for the students.  Because students were all day students with few expressions of community and social life on campus, most of our work was done one-to-one with the students.  Those conversations ranged from personal growth and plans for a profession to very strong religious and life questions.

Building on these experiences with the community college, I developed and led a state-wide conference on ministry in community colleges utilizing a simulation I created to reflect the structure in Florida. The fallout from this was indeed felt across the state.

A unique program that I created at the university built on my concern for freshmen and their development.  I got acquainted with many faculty members who taught the beginning courses in departments which would become majors for the students.  Then I invited a faculty person, a professional in the field, and a dozen or so students who thought they would major in and become professionals in that field to come to my home for dinner and discussion.  This was very successful and helpful.  Students got to look at themselves, talk about their dreams and plans, and ask questions about their future academic life and eventual careers.

Note: While I was writing this piece of my report I discovered that the Alban Institute  weekly newsletter for January 20, 2014 contained an article titled “The Congregation as Resource Center” which said: . . congregational leaders could play a mediating role in connecting members with others who share their interests or linking college students with professionals in their area of study.  Hmmm!  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And, finally, I completed the Doctor of Ministry Degree which I had been working on at San Francisco Theological Seminary.  This had included two years of weekly class work, one summer on the seminary campus, and a dissertation/project.  My dissertation/project was on life, support, and adjustment of university freshmen with emphasis on the particular role that campus ministry played.

As I said, this was a different world.  Following the great community and personal relations at Drake and in the Iowa UMHE, I was faced here with a troubled (and troubling) board and support system.  Sadly I found myself following the experience of several predecessors and staying only for a brief period of less than three years.

1978-81 The Creative Educator

Columbia, South Carolina

I guess the best name for this period is An Unexpected Interim.  Or maybe Telling Others About Campus Ministry (Are publicists still considered professionals is their field?)

I left Gainesville, Florida and joined my wife in Columbia, South Carolina just in time to start the fall semester of 1978 in the Department of Media Arts at the University of South Carolina.  For some strange reason I thought I was taking some time out to be a student but in actuality I was only a month into the semester when I got drafted to also be an Interim Professor in the department.  Even with both jobs operative I managed to complete a Master’s in Media Arts degree within twelve months.

With this credential, I was able to open an office as The Creative Educator and expand on my experiences in media production, communications, and creative education.  Not surprisingly, my major client was the national office of United Ministries in Higher education for whom I produced an extended series of simulation games, many slide-tape shows interpreting campus ministry at a number of sites across the U. S., and articles in their publications.  This was a wonderful education for me as I got such a close-up view of a huge variety of programs in campus ministries around the country.

Now a confession: working for UMHE (and a few local clients) did not keep my table with enough food so I also worked as an interim minister in churches in the state and had a job as a Kelly Girl.  In case you don’t remember Kelly Girls, it was a company providing temporary office workers (mostly women).  But I guess I did something right in that work because in my first year I was named “Employee of the Year” by the Columbia office of Kelly Services!!!

I guess all this montage of activity kept me adequately “in the loop” because in the spring of 1981 I was hired by the board of United Campus Ministry of Austin to be their head of staff and director of ministries.

1981 – 1989 University of Texas and Austin Community College

Austin, Texas. 

United Campus Ministry of Austin was the local expression of Texas United Campus Christian Life Committee – the statewide agency formed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church U.S., and the United Presbyterian Church U.S.A.  Here in Austin much of our life and programming was also in tandem with the campus ministry program of the United Methodist Church.

The Tower and Fountain at the University of Texas

As at my other venues, the basic part of the job was staff supervision, developing and teaching short-term courses on issues related to the emphases of the local board, counseling students, directing worship, developing personal and professional relationships with faculty and staff, and managing all the structures of the board, student-oriented programs and groups, finances, and communications.

Our office was in the Congregational Church of Austin (United Church of Christ).  Since we did not have a campus ministry center in the usual sense, all of our programming was done on campus, in churches, and in other venues.  Pat Russell, a UCC minister, was our associate with special attention to ministry with students and relations with local churches.  Claudia Highbaugh, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister worked part time for UCMA with African-American students at the university and part time as the chaplain at Huston-Tillotson College (a traditional African-American college related to the United Methodists and two black denominations).

Along with programs related to traditional students, we put great emphasis upon work with student families, international students and students preparing for international experiences. Within a year or so, we developed the University of Texas Student Parent Association, a ministry directed toward the university’s more than 5,000 student families.

The initial ministry was a child care center, a service not provided by the university and greatly appreciated by the student families.  It was housed first in University Methodist Church and later in a facility owned by and rented to us by the university.  The child care program had a full-time director, James Fisher, and seven staff members. This added to my schedule through administration and personal counseling.

New to the life of UCMA, we developed a program in conjunction with the office of the Dean of Students at Austin Community College.  As had been the program in Florida, the structure at ACC was related to faculty, participation in classes, and personal counseling.  All of the students lived in the city and just appeared for classes on campus, thus traditional campus ministry structures were not able to function here.

At UT, we created an international program through which the University of Texas became a sister university with Irkutsk State University in Siberia, USSR – a program which I directed. And we helped form the group in Austin who became the local expression of Christmas International House, a program of the national Presbyterian Church and which brought international students from colleges all over the U.S. to Austin for two weeks at Christmas.

I accepted an invitation from a member of the University’s counseling center to join him in establishing a service project in Jamaica and to recruit and train students for the project.  This was a two week experience in which the students lived and worked in a small village there.  We sent about 15-20 students to this program each year.

Expanding on the international touches, I became the local director and national board member of USA-USSR Citizens’ Dialogue, promoting peace by bringing groups of Americans and Soviets to each others’ country.  These were professional people from all walks of life and generally stayed two to three weeks on each visit to the other country.

Not wanting to let any grass grow under my feet, I still continued writing curriculum and magazine articles for the Presbyterian Church – including a regular monthly magazine column of games and puzzles related to the teaching curriculum for junior highs.  And I continued producing media for United Ministries in Higher Education and other groups.

Finally in this list of unique features, I received a grant from Texas United Campus Christian Life Committee to monitor legislation on higher education underway in the Texas Legislature and report on this to the TUCCLC parent denominational bodies.  And, again, I was a commissioner to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) where I chaired the committee on peacemaking. 

Reflection on the In-Between

As I said at the beginning of this report, the campus ministry phase of my life ended when the funding for the work in Austin died in 1989. And, as I noted, that “death through the departure of dollars” came to all four of my venues.  But I want to say a few words about what I can see in the reflection provided by the rearview mirror of years.

That mirror lets me identify a healthily-large number of ministers, church administrators, and counselors.  It shows me people with productive educations who were dropout-bound when I first met them.  There are many, many educators in public schools, colleges and universities all the way across this country.  I see professional and service-oriented citizens around the world who went back home after their education in the U.S. I cannot see but can easily imagine people in many countries whose lives are changed by the ministries of students who came to them to serve.  Business people, public officials, artists, musicians, peacemakers, social service providers, and so many more!!

I cannot claim responsibility for who and what they are.  I can only kneel in prayer to say “Thank you, Lord, for calling me to this ministry and allowing me to be part of all these lives!”


Out on a Limb by Hugh Nevin

Hugh Nevin

Out on a Limb:  33½ years (1963-1996) in campus ministry

            In retrospect it’s easy to say where I’ve been as a campus minister:  16 years on Long Island (in two positions); 3 years (in as many positions) traveling New York State; and 14½ years in New York’s Capital District (in two positions).  Fleshing that out a bit and providing some flavor takes a little more doing.  But to stay with the overview for a minute,  the Long Island and Capital District positions were all new when I came to them; the State level positions were all interim.  More, in the Capital District the positions were half-time; the other part of my time was as interim pastor in eight churches (plus a ninth in a three-year installed relationship).  At the time the changes simply unfolded.   In retrospect the question is there:  was I being called to a career of staffing startups and transitions.

It was a conversation I had in 1962 with George Pera, Presbyterian University Pastor at New York University, that probably sealed my decision to become a campus minister.  Though I didn’t know it at the time of the conversation, George was a representative of an about-to-vanish breed, APUPs, the Association of Presbyterian University Pastors.  With the founding of NCMA in 1964, APUPs went out of existence.

I was not at the initial gathering of NCMA in St. Louis in 1964; I was at Michigan State the following year.  Beginning life as a campus minister by starting up an area ministry on the eastern two-thirds of the Long Island land mass kept my interests and attention focused locally in those first years.  My family and I had arrived in Stony Brook in January, 1963.  An initial objective was to cultivate the Board of The Campus Christian Federation of Suffolk County (later the United Campus Ministries of Suffolk County) and develop its activities, while at the same time creating a network of key persons on and near the four non-parochial campuses of the County.  There was also an equally important project:  bring Protestant student groups into existence on all four campuses. One had been in process of formation at Stony Brook when I arrived; the other three were added by the spring of 1965. The worship-study-service-fellowship model guided the development of these groups. The four campuses included:  The State University of New York at Stony Brook (across the railroad tracks from our home in Stony Brook village), Suffolk County Community College in Selden (a 15-minute drive), Adelphi Suffolk (later renamed Dowling College) in Oakdale (a 30-minute drive) and Southampton College in Southampton (an hour’s drive).  By the late 1970s Southampton’s student group had ceased activity and was restarted as part of a sub-area ministry including Southampton and the Riverhead expansion campus of the Community College; part time local staffing was engaged for this Peconic Ministry. Altogether the campuses were young or brand new and growing institutions;  increasing enrollments, new faculty and staff, and building projects were the order of the day.

Regarding the pace and extent of ministry activity in the early years, a comment the Federation treasurer made to me is instructive:  “You’ll have to decide how much money you can use for program and how much you need to live on.”  Once we became a tax exempt organization, this pressure eased somewhat.  Other examples of campus ministry activity/concern in the early years included the following: in several situations, local churches were active in developing student fellowships; the community college president let it be known that he (a leader in his local church) didn’t want a campus minister living within ten miles of his campus.  (A separate story:  the Claritian priests conducting the Catholic campus ministries in the County waged the public and legal battle that opened the door for the establishment of religious ministries on campuses throughout the State University of New York system.)  Students were active tutoring migrant children, and faculty and staff on campuses both advised groups and took the initiative to mount programs such as “The Place of Religion in the Academic Enterprise.”  The Stony Brook student group hosted the pastor of the Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, while the campus itself experienced a drug bust.

Three key events took place in the fall of 1965:

➧ 37 faculty and staff from 9 Long Island campuses gathered in Riverhead (where the eastern forks of the Island begin) for a Consultation requested by the Nassau and Suffolk County campus ministry boards with lead funding from the Church in Higher Education Projects Committee in New York State.  Colgate Rochester Divinity School theologian William Hamilton keynoted the event.  Case study papers describing Hillel, Newman, Denominational Protestant, and United Protestant approaches formed the basis for discussion.  The United Protestant paper was presented by Earl Lowell, Coordinator of the New York Commission for United Ministries in Higher Education in New York (UMHE).  In addition to myself, two other local campus ministers were present, Paul Kaylor, Campus Pastor at Adelphi University, and Charles Kinzie, Campus Pastor at Hofstra and C. W. Post College.

➧ Elsewhere that fall, campus ministers from six areas – Buffalo, Rochester, Canton-Potsdam, Troy, Nassau and Suffolk counties – gathered for a day-long consultation on the nature of area ministries.

➧ A small university-community group at Stony Brook began a series of meetings on the topic of “Otherness” led by David Roomy, Associate Director of the Episcopal Council for Foreign Students and Other Visitors, Inc.  The University was under a mandate to develop graduate programs at an unusually fast pace; it began recruiting graduate students from Taiwan (even a few from China through Hong Kong) and Japan.  The University had no staff or program for their orientation to an American community and campus life.  Out of the Roomy study group we developed an organization which we named Community Hospitality for International Students (CHIS).  For a number of years it hosted sixty or more incoming international students each fall; they stayed with community families (identified initially through local churches) as a vehicle for orientation before the semester began, many developing ongoing relationships.  One evening, when host families were meeting in a campus dorm, the lights went out for a period of time:  no one panicked.  Hearing about it, the University President pronounced it a noteworthy example of improving town-gown relations that community residents would feel comfortable under such circumstances.  The University finally added a foreign student advisor position and the program was then directed by that person. Eventually the Federation was no longer officially involved.

In the spring of 1967, on behalf of the state level UMHE Commission, a campus ministry review team spent three days in which they visited the four campuses, interviewed numerous persons on and off campus and held group meetings.   To the extent a single sentence can capture the team’s findings, it is this:  “Although neither the Federation nor Hugh Nevin were known by everyone on each campus, their presence was felt on every campus.”

The advent of CHIS initiated a new stage in project work (a strategy that, by then, our Board had formally adopted):  some projects could be developed and then spun off.  The most long lasting of such efforts was the next project undertaken, again in reaction to an emergent need.  Psychology graduate students at Stony Brook who served as staff in the counseling center were rumored to be using their counseling information as the basis for academic papers.  True or not, it precipitated a crisis of confidence on campus.  Considering the situation, three of us – a tenured faculty member, biologist Jim Fowler (now deceased), local Methodist pastor John Paul Hankins, and I – set a goal.  We imagined the establishment of a crisis intervention phone service, identified a facility for it (an unnamed local church), and agreed on a person who could staff the project once initiated.  We then set about getting the ball rolling.  Conceived in 1969, RESPONSE began operations in 1971 as a campus ministry program with a group of 50 to 80 trained student, faculty and community volunteers under the steady leadership of our chosen staffer, recently-graduated Stony Brook student Maureen Bybee. (In addition to significant phone usage, there was an unexpected byproduct: student volunteers bonded with older community volunteers.)  After several years RESPONSE was able to receive funding from Suffolk County.  Soon after that it was spun off as a separate agency.  RESPONSE of Suffolk County is still active today.

Another project in the spinoff mode was the creation of a local agency, Community and Youth Services (CYS), with a variety of programs guided by a professional staff person and volunteer leaders and workers.  A professor in the Stony Brook School of Social Welfare, a local church youth leader, and I provided leadership during the development stage.  The key ingredient was the community needs assessment undertaken to fulfill a class assignment by students in the School of Social Welfare.  Their final group paper was reworked as a proposal and a budget was added.  County funding was forthcoming.

Two other areas of involvement deserve mention. Stony Brook’s Administrative Officer, Karl Hartzell, spearheaded efforts over several years and eventually secured funding for a year-long study (1970-71) of the feasibility of establishing a major Center for Religion and Society at the University.  For a variety of reasons, faculty opposition not the least of them, the effort faltered. In retrospect, a comment in a letter to me from the Director of the study as he departed (I was on vacation at the time) – helpful then in quelling opposition to our strategy by some stakeholders – seems more notable in retrospect as a suggestion of the common fate of our enterprises. Robert V. Smith (a Methodist, on leave from his position as Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Colgate University) wrote:  “I’m sorry I did not accomplish more, but I did what I could.  Since my present model for the Center is much like what you do, I hope you will continue to support it.”    The experience with the Center proposal did have one lasting impact:  our ministry and others serving the campus developed a proposal for a modest interfaith center.  Four years after Bob Smith’s efforts, this initiative was successful in adding a permanent feature to Student Services – not least, as regards faculty support, because of the efforts of a member of the English Department, theologian Thomas Altizer.

Another example of church interest in creating new ministries in the growing Suffolk County area was a project of the Presbytery of Long Island.  Its Nesconset Experimental Ministry led by the Rev. David Bos and his co-director, Father Peter Ryan of the local Catholic Diocese, developed programs in response to the needs of those living in the marketing area of a major shopping center under construction, Smith Haven Mall (three miles from the Stony Brook campus).  Smith Haven Ministries (its incorporated name) was successful in securing significant space in the mall, opening with a full time staff of four.  David and I discovered a variety of ways in which our ministries could cooperate together, often utilizing University personnel or students (programs with Schools in the Health Sciences Center were noteworthy).  In addition to sharing office space for a period of time, while I was on sabbatical thanks to a Danforth Campus Ministry Grant, David served the Federation in a consulting role in my absence.

Part Two

            My second position on Long Island was created by developments at the state level in New York.  Because it did not involve any physical change in living and basic work settings for me, it would be easy to imagine it was simply a transition to another stage.  The change, however, involved a new call and the replacement of one working situation with a quite different one.  The merging of the Nassau and Suffolk campus ministry boards was what happened locally to create one of eight area ministries covering New York State:  the result, Long Island United Campus Ministries (LIUCM) was also UMHE on Long Island.  Statewide, 28 separate local ministries became 8 area ministries, the unique history of each Area dictating the changes necessary – often from assignments to a single campus – to create area ministries in which staff were deployed in teams with both area and statewide portfolios.  The New York State UMHE Commission process, completed in the spring of 1972, considered all local staff who wished to be involved and redeployed them, 18 in all, assigning Tom Philipp (previously at SUNY Oswego upstate) and me to the Island.

On Long Island, because I had already been working in a smaller area there that was now being enlarged – from 4 campuses to potentially more than four times that number, I did not experience the change as dramatic; Tom did.  One of the students active in the Christian Association at Stony Brook when I arrived over nine years earlier, Gerda Barber, wrote an article for a local paper describing the changes at a time when the new pattern was five years old, an article reprinted in the national UMHE publication, Connexion.   In it Tom described the shock of going from being a well-known campus leader to a campus visitor known by only a few.

However, in the article Tom also described the development of a project initiated with his leadership.  We had had a peace education – draft counseling project during the Vietnam War.  When the War ended (troops began returning in 1973), a survey we conducted indicated that there were 16,000 Vietnam veterans on twelve of the campuses in our area, with many more in our communities.  By creating a veterans peer counseling network, our ministry was able to provide a needed resource.  Many veterans had problems relating to standard campus procedures; they could relate to their peers, who were able to provide both basic support and serve as guides or intermediaries in accessing campus resources.

Emblematic of what ministry meant during the UMHE on Long Island years was the statewide Lay Ministry Training Project, which I had a hand in initiating.  In response to the World Council of Churches emphasis on the missionary structure of the congregation, a small group working under the title of the Metropolitan Associates of Philadelphia (MAP) – represented most often, in our experience, by Richard R. Broholm – had created the Lay Ministry for Organizational Change Strategy.  A well-articulated training program introduced several of us as statewide staff to a process in which each of us with a non-staff partner from our Area was trained in the Strategy. Part of that training included each of these teams replicating the training with others in their own Areas.  The Strategy was applicable for enabling ministry in whatever church and community or campus setting each participant chose to engage; I produced a local training workbook as a resource.

Long Island was the only Area to specifically identify its work as project-oriented.  Staff in other Areas  were quite effective in this and other ways in their own situations.    One with special prominence was William Gibson, a member of the Southern Tier Area staff whose EcoJustice Task Force work was influential far beyond the bounds of New York State.

The issue we all confronted was the problem of replacing the familiar chaplaincy/campus ministry model with a way of presenting the area model of ministry in higher education that captured the imagination of both church leaders and people in the pews, or at least dissuaded its outright opponents.  Truth to tell, most of us as staff would not have listed area ministry as a choice, though I can recall only one outright voice of opposition once the change was made.  However, other incontrovertible facts soon became apparent: the reduction, between 1972 and 1979, of the statewide staff from 18 to 12; a pattern of declining income; and a projected 1980 deficit of $100,000 (roughly a third of our statewide budget).

The end came at a meeting of the UMHE in New York Executive Board on June 2, 1979 at which the following objectives were adopted:

“1.  Participation in the development of a new set of goals, strategies,  structures and funding supports to carry on ministry in higher education in the state.

2.  Cessation of the present program of staffing as of June 30, 1980.

3.  Cessation of operations by the UMHE/NY Executive Board as of

December 31, 1980.”

I approached this development from a newly-acquired perspective.  At the beginning of 1979, I had become the Interim Executive Director of UMHE/NY.  In this role I now provided staff service to a high-level Futures Planning Committee that worked from July through November,1979 to implement the first objective.  In addition, I worked with Jon Regier, Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches, and the Council’s Design Task Force as it developed a state level component for the emerging picture.

I also worked with the UMHE/NY Executive Board and Area personnel to prepare for the cessation of all area staff employment.  Part of the effectiveness of these various operations was that they were guided by groups of people with single objectives:  those looking ahead didn’t have to look back; those winding things down didn’t have to worry about what would happen next.  As the one who staffed both kinds of activity, I did not enjoy the same luxury.  At some point in the first half of 1980 I entered on a second interim position, becoming Higher Education Project Staff for the Council of Churches.

Once the Council’s Design Task Force had determined that the Council should have a higher education position on its staff, a hiring process was instituted and Adam J. Kittrell, a Baptist pastor, was chosen to become the Council’s Associate Director for Ministry in Higher Education.  Adam brought good skills and church, campus and community experience to the position; what he lacked was familiarity with the New York State scene.  As a result, in 1981 I stepped into a third interim position in as many years, Higher Education Consultant affiliated with IDEA, a New York State educational network under the direction of Christian Educator David Lewis.  In this role I introduced Adam to the persons and institutions around the State with whom he would be working.  At the same time I continued work across the State with localities that were seeking to redesign their approach to ministry in light of the events that had taken place.

The call for  “an ecumenical ministry in higher education” saw the number of supporting denominations rise from the six in UMHE in New York (American Baptist, Christian Church, Reformed Church, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, United Presbyterian) to eight with the addition of Lutheran Synods and Episcopal Dioceses.  Denominational funding, which had been provided to UMHE at the State level from which it was distributed to the Areas, was now returned to the direct support of local and regional ministries.  The new scene was identified in a Directory of Cooperative Ministries in Higher Education in New York State issued by the New York State Council of Churches in 1982.  It notes six models of ministry in use: parish-based ministry, institutional chaplaincy, shared or part-time ministry, denominational chaplaincy and appointment, cooperative or ecumenical ministry, and student-based organization.  It lists 142 persons (by County) engaged in higher education ministry.  Of these, 26 are identified as full time, 87 as part time,  and 29 have no identification (most appear to me to be part time).  For every one that was full time, approximately four were part time.

 Part Three

            As my consulting role was beginning to run its course, a new position was announced at Union College in Schenectady, made possible by the redistribution of funds that had taken place with the demise of UMHE/NY.  As it happened my wife, Vaughn, and I had moved to Schenectady in the summer of 1980.  She had been appointed to a faculty position in the Nursing Department at Russell Sage College in nearby Troy (she had previously occupied a similar position in the School of Nursing at the Health Sciences Center at Stony Brook).  The move also made travel about the State easier for me. My office with the Council of Churches was at First Presbyterian Church, Albany, along with Elenora Ivory, the Council’s Public Policy Director (ten years later I would serve First Pres as Interim Minister on the retirement of its long time pastor, Robert Lamar).  I applied and was called to the position of Campus Protestant Minister at Union College, half time, in the winter of 1982.  By the fall I had also become Interim Minister/Head of Staff at Albany’s Westminster Presbyterian Church – where my colleague was Rick Spalding, now Chaplain at Williams College (site of my own undergraduate experience).

The 12½ years at Union had as background a continuing conversation within the local Board:  how to make the ministry full time.  We progressed in steps.  For the first three and a half years I was on my own.  The following year we added a part time ordained assistant.  Then, for the next five years we had full time seminary interns (one staying a second year).  Finally, for the last three years I served as Coordinator and two recent seminary graduates served full time as the Protestant chaplain. (Dr. Viki Brooks now serves full time, supported by both the College and the church community, in three roles:  Campus Protestant Minister, Interfaith Chaplain, and Director of Religious Life.  In between our times, Kathleen Buckley, now Chaplain at St. Lawrence University, was the Campus Protestant Minister.)

Union, founded in 1795, did not build its Memorial Chapel until the early 20th century.  It was founded (thus the name) by three groups of early Schenectady residents and their churches:  the Dutch of First Reformed, the English of St. George’s Episcopal, and the Scots, Scotch-Irish and New Englanders of First Presbyterian.  For years commencements were held in First Presbyterian’s sanctuary.  Not a few Presidents over the years have been members of the clergy.  Most prominent was Eliphalet Nott, a Presbyterian who served as Union’s President for sixty-two years in the 19th century.  Indeed, during my first eight and a half years at Union the President was John S. Morris, a Presbyterian Minister and former Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Colgate University.

With the completion of Memorial Chapel, the College provided a position for a director of religious activities.  By mid-century, this had become a member of the Classics Department who also served as Chaplain, Norman Johnson.  With Norman’s retirement in 1968, College funding for such a role ceased.

While the campus ministry board’s oft-stated desire was to provide students the full time presence of a trusted counselor and leader in the faith, detailed above, it seemed to me that this intention needed to be supplemented by activities that were directed at repositioning what it means to be religious in relation to the College’s  history and the current educational enterprise.  Over-simplified, this became a focus on values education, variously presented, and the use of orthogonal framing.

Worship, study, fellowship and service were still there for those who responded to them in their typical formats.  For them, but especially for others, there were other opportunities.  Here, in lieu of a description of the values education approach and orthogonal framing, are some suggestive recollections:

➧ Fresh from the completion of her seminary education, Protestant Chaplain Alison Boden (now Director of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University) reciting the Gospel of Mark in a cabaret setting.  Someone schooled in drama, as she was, taking the Good News out of the church and onto the student stage.

➧ President Morris, First Reformed pastor Dean Dykstra, my Catholic colleague Father Dennis Cox, and I, on an alumni weekend, concelebrating the eucharist using First Reformed’s Lydius communion cup.  The cup came from the period following the 1690 massacre of Schenectady citizens by French militia and native raiders, and had likely been touched by the lips of the fabled native American, Lawrence, a member of First Reformed who helped rescue captives led away after the massacre.

➧ Vermont artist Melinda White (now White-Bronson), in the College’s theater-in-the-round, reflecting on her arresting sculpture, “We are the Angels:  We are the Mortal People,” with responses initiated by Rudy Nydegger, Associate Professor of Psychology and Management and a local Hospice Board member.  Using papier-mâché, leaves, wood, and burlap, the ten-foot high by seven-foot by five-foot sculpture depicts an angel leaning over a dying woman on her bed.

➧ Seminary Intern David Bodman (now Randall-Bodman) developing and presenting a first Interfaith event on campus titled “Reflections on Jewish-Christian Dialogue Today” and featuring guests Rabbi Leon Klenecki, Dr. Eugene Fisher, and Dr. Robert Everett.  Opined Union’s Associate Dean of Faculty Terry Weiner, in a next-day note to David, “The panel for the Interfaith Dinner was absolutely first rate!  Bravo!”

➧ Seminary Intern Laurel Hayes (most recently Campus Minister at Webster University) initiating and moderating “Plateful of Questions,”  a student lunchtime discussion program that continued long after she had returned to seminary.

➧ Writer and preacher Frederick Buechner, resident for three days on campus, telling a class in the English Department how he writes to spark the imagination:  long-hand, with colored pencils which he changes every few sentences.

➧ Seminary Intern Gloria Korsman developing and conducting an Interfaith worship service, “Living With AIDS.”

➧ Malusi Mpumlwana, colleague of Steve Biko in the creation of the anti-apartheid Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, sharing his experiences with students.

In nearby Albany, when UMHE in New York closed up shop, Lutheran and Episcopal ministries continued.  Fourteen years later, the Albany-based Capital Area Council of Churches formed a campus ministry committee and advertised a new half time position.  I applied and was accepted for the position; it was time for a fresh presence at Union (which Kathleen Buckley ably supplied) – and, as it turned out, a final new start for me.

My Protestant colleague at the University at Albany’s Chapel House was Lutheran Chaplain Dennis Meyer, also part time (but in an installed local pastorate).  It did not take long before we were agreed that Dennis should continue as the primary staff person for the gathered life of the Protestant community and I would take primary responsibility for the community’s outreach activities.  In practice we each did some of both; we also each shared responsibilities in relation to the rest of the Chapel House staff.

In sum, in two years, my contribution was to expand good working relationships with partners on campus and in the local church community.  Two years later, in the fall of 1998, the Lutheran Board for Campus Ministry initiated conversations with its Council of Churches counterpart.  A new Board with equal representation from each of the old Boards was in place by the following spring, the two half-time positions were merged, and a new full time Campus Minister, Sandy Damhof, was in place the next fall; this spring she will finish her 15th year.

There was one other project that I had begun while at Union that was completed while I was at the University at Albany: the nationally-attended Consultation, “Out on a Limb:  Thinking About Faith and Ministry in the College and University Setting.”  This fall 1995 Consultation, generously funded by the Louisville Institute for the Study of Protestantism and American Culture,gathered some 120 persons over three days to talk together about the state of ministry in higher education, prompted by presentations from Episcopal Chaplain Sam Portaro, Professor of History and Education Douglas Sloan, Harvard Senior Research Fellow Sharon Daloz Parks, and Theologian Douglas John Hall, with responses by UCC Area Minister Donna Schaper and Auburn Seminary President Barbara Wheeler.

One denominational official later wrote that it was a “rare event.” The letter writer was speaking of the caliber of the presentations and the design of what took place. It was, I believe, rare in another sense.  Extended applause at the end of the gathering was prompted by an opportunity to thank me for my work as coordinator of the event.  Yet, as the applause went on and on, it became clear that those present were also expressing, as Bob Lamar, moderator of the final session, said to me at the time, “something more.”  I would hazard the guess that what they were expressing was their heart-felt appreciation for their time together.  Thoughtful conversation and fellowship, preceded and followed by artfully-crafted common worship/celebration (the contribution of Gail George, worship consultant, liturgist and dancer, now deceased) had evoked much of the best that nourishes the spirits of those who claim the title “campus minister,” as well as those whose lives express the claim without the title.

There have been times over these years when my reaction to the prospects for this ministry have been anxiety, fear, and depression; a sober analysis of its statistical decline would say the same without the feelings.  In addition, I could not even have considered the interim and, especially, the part time positions in which I served had it not been for the steady employment of my wife.  At the same time, I’m hard pressed to imagine myself in a life’s work that could equal it for energizing challenges, rewarding personal associations, and meaningful fulfillments, small and large.

Prayers for Hard Times by Walter Fishbaugh


Walter I. Fishbaugh was God’s beautiful child whose gifts of perception, articulation, and love remain with us although his physical presence has been gone more than twenty years.  His eyes saw realities in his fellow humans that escaped their own and those of their sojourners.  His heart felt more deeply than almost anyone I knew.  His commitment to his Creator infused every part of his life and work.  And, to the wondering amazement of those of us who listened, his words, even in what might otherwise pass for daily conversation, flowed like poetry whose right hand was love and whose left was grace.

Before his death he left a large collection of prayers to the care of his friend, William Belli.  Bill in turn has put Walt’s 100 Prayers for Hard Times and Hard Hearts and a bonus of benedictions into a simple notebook and distributed it to some of us who knew and admired Walt.

I, in my turn, have “borrowed” a few of these prayers for this book. As I tried to mark those “twenty-five or so” prayers that were most meaningful to me and include them in an artistic presentation to share with friends who “pray professionally”, I soon found I had exhausted my supply of markers and was headed into simply copying the entire book.  It was with struggle that I brought myself back to my original intent, thus presenting what is on these pages.  The words are Walt’s originals.  I lay claim only to their presentation on the page.

Let me repeat here the encouragement Walt wrote in his introduction:

I hope that many of these 100 prayers will be heartily and thoughtfully prayed by many other congregations.  I hope that they will be freely adapted to the personality and situation of other clusters of the faithful…. Let us keep in mind that prayer doesn’t really come from us.  It is His Spirit thrusting and probing within us Who breaks out in our praying, giving evidence of God’s continuing enticement of our spirits out toward Him. Let us pray!

 L. Wayne Bryan, May 2008

O Lord God, out of a dense inertness

You have spoken

the universe into

lively motion.

And in the midst of the whirling spheres you have given us a world – a place to be – a speck of blue and green on which to live and for which to care.

                       And you have caused to be upon this earth nations and races and all sorts and conditions of people, that we might find you and love you – and find one another and love one another.

 Finding you, O God, and finding one another have proven to be:

  one thing –

      one search –

          one indivisible enterprise of the spirit.

We are ashamed, O God, that after countless generations there is still so much of it left to be done.

We and our earth are in peril because we have not fully found you, nor loved you deeply enough.  We know this because, as persons and nations and peoples, we are still estranged from one another.

In Jesus Christ, your son our Lord, help us so to find you and so to love you that we shall link our lives with all those who share His and our humanity.

Save us in him, O God, until we shall be bound up together in the bundle of life and love that we call your kingdom.

Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days.  Amen.


O good and blessed God,

Father and Friend, Creator, Sustainer,

Center and Circumference,

Source and Destination

– be all and in all to us, we pray.


Help us to know that no matter how occupied or pre-occupied we are, we deal with you.  Behind every appearance and every circumstance there is the Divine Presence.

Remind us that we cannot distance ourselves too far away as to be beyond your care or outside your eager concern.

And when we feel alone, or adrift

   or estranged, or forgotten,

remind us that these feelings are not reality,

but reflections of our own dimness of faith.

If we have come to this holy time and place in depression of spirit or coldness of heart,

restore a right spirit within us and rekindle such an affection for one another and for you that we shall be reborn – renewed

in body, mind and inner-ness, so that the week we now begin may carry through each day some of the energy and glory of this encounter.

For it is in the name and Spirit of Jesus, our Lord, we pray.  Amen.

Thrust us out, O God, into the lively stream

 of your concern for this world !


Let the beat of your Father-heart give a singing and marching cadence to us as your people.

May we hear its rhythm within our worship, drawing us into step with each other and into harmony with you.

For too long, O Lord, we have had to occupy ourselves with our own affairs.

We are weary of expending energies tinkering with our documents and our real estate.

Our uneasiness makes us irritable and petulant.

These are important things, deserving of our best thought.

But they channel our concerns narrowly.

They shrink our horizons.

They so magnify secondary things that we are in peril of losing our calling in the distortion.

There are so many things to decide that we stagger under the burden.

Refresh us and renew us, O God, for our mission.

Rouse us from our weariness.

Call us to greatness of spirit.

Help us to find ourselves as a people, O Lord.

Stamp us by Your Spirit, as a church whose program and purpose intersect in the passion of Jesus, our Lord, for this lost and undone world.

In His name.  Amen.

Obituary for Harold Wells, Drake University

Harold James Wells (1936 – 2013)

  • “Harold was a good friend to me at times when I needed…”- Burton Powley
  • “A most generous and giving man. May we learn from his…”- Mike Palshis
  • “Harold was my office-mate at the Sexual Assault Center for…”- Dee Ann Wolfe
  • “All of those years we shared as directors of campus…”- Wayne Bryan

Harold James Wells

Des Moines

Harold James Wells, activist, political junkie and friend of many died on Thursday, December 12, 2013. Harold was born in 1936 in Russell, Arkansas, smack dab in the middle of the great depression, which explains both his lifelong inordinate love of pot luck dinners and his inability to ever throw anything away. Ever.

Harold loved the opera, symphony, ballet, and all manner of plays. More often than not he would wake both of his young boys to the sounds of WOI public radio FM, blaring the likes of Puccini, Carmen and Bach. A true dream come true for grade school aged boys. He was not all highbrow and college-educated however, and had a wonderfully eclectic record collection, where the likes of Isaac Hays, Simon and Garfunkel, and Elmore James all waited patiently for the curious and prying fingers of his young boys.

Who knows what drives people to become themselves. Perhaps it was Harold’s intimate familiarity with the cruelty of others. Cruelty fostered in the dark recesses of intolerance and insecurity. Perhaps, it was his kind soul. Whatever it was, it led to a lifetime of helping others. It led to a lifetime of protests, demonstrations, marches, and counseling. He was tireless. He marched for civil rights in Arkansas in the 1960s; he marched on Washington in the 1970s for the ERA. In the 1980s, he fought for peace with STAR*PAC and finally he fought for equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

In 1976, Harold opened the Thoreau center, a community center where like-minded people could congregate, people from across the aisle could debate, and everyone could let down their hair and have a good time. For four decades there have been weddings, birthday parties, political functions, French Club meetings, poetry readings, gypsy jazz shows, and old fashion house parties too numerous to count.

Over the last 77 years Harold has been a campus minister, teacher, politico, sexologist, rape counselor, rabble-rouser, raconteur, and dreadful cook. He rarely paid a bill on time and punctuality remained an absolute stranger to him until the very end.

Harold was preceded in death by his father Alton Wells, his mother Esta Wells–who was salt of the earth, a wizard with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gum drop cake–and without a doubt, the best hugger and baby holder ever. He was also preceded by his sister Frances Walker who was as radiant and warm as the sun itself.

He is survived by his three wonderful and beautiful sisters: the lovely Kathryn McKee (Lavern) who was the only one that could ever get his toupee to truly look right, Lola Blanton (Jerry) whose kindness and devotion know no bounds, and Linda Harbour (Calvin) whose smile always sparkles and whose laughter remains infectious to this day. He is also survived by his brother Carroll Wells (Imogene) the diamond in the rough, cantankerous, black sheep who, like a fine Bourbon, has mellowed just right.

Finally he is survived by his two sons Malcolm (Janel) and Gregory Wells, to whom he has given the love of music, the arts, sports, and most of all the gift of an open mind and the ability and desire to question the man, though at times he has regretted that last gift. Harold also has four wonderful, riotously spirited grandchildren who are as talented as they are diverse, Matthew, Kathryn, and Cassandra Wells (children of Gregory), and Riley Wells (son of Malcolm and Janel).

There will be a Celebration gathering on Thursday, December 19th at the Thoreau Center, 3500 Kingman Blvd, Des Moines, Iowa 50311, from 5-8 p.m. Please join us and rejoice, pray, commiserate and laugh together. Harold would have liked that.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed in Harold’s name to the Ballet Des Moines (, Des Moines Symphony (, Youth & Shelter Services, Inc. (, or Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus ( Online condolences may be shared at


Published in Des Moines Register from Dec. 15 to Dec. 18, 2013

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40 Years and Going Strong by Tom Philipp

 Forty Years and Going Strong By Thomas J. Philipp


In the fall of 1960 I took an Intern Year while at Union Theological Seminary in New York to serve the First Presbyterian Church in Canton, New York and serve also as Minister to Students at both St. Lawrence University and NY State A and T College. It was a joy to serve with the Pastor of First Presbyterian, The Rev. Jack Wells. Jack played a significant role with United Ministries in Higher Education in New York State. After serving that year in Canton I knew I wanted to go into campus ministry. At that time the Presbyterian denomination required that a person serve three years in a local congregation before being certified to go into campus ministry.

Upon graduation from Union in 1962 I served as Assistant Minister at Jermain Memorial Presbyterian Church in Watervliet New York for three years and then accepted the call to a newly created position of Protestant Campus Minister at Oswego, New York. I was approved for campus ministry by Rev. Arnold Nakajima a General Assembly staff person.

I served in Oswego from 1965 to 1972. From 1968 to 1972 I was also on the faculty as Assistant Professor of History, team teaching a course in Western Civilization titled “The History of Ideas and Movements.” This was the great era of student involvement in civil rights, anti Vietnam War demonstrations, and protests against certain university policies. I, and most of my colleagues in campus ministry during this period became very much involved in these movements and these movements shaped our style of ministry. We were out there with the students in their protests. It was also the time of the emergence of the drug culture and the development of gay/lesbian groups often turning to the campus ministry for support. The gay/lesbian group at Oswego met in my home for their weekly meetings and soon included several persons from the town community as well. It was wonderful to have the full support of my campus ministry board for my involvement in all these various aspects of my ministry.

In 1968 I helped to form the New York State Campus Ministers Association and served as President from 1968 to 1972. The Association developed a number of seminars that included not only campus ministers but also faculty members and local pastors and lay people wishing to develop a mutual ministry addressing the issues and concerns of the day. New York State United Ministries in Higher Education (a joint enterprise of the United Church of Christ, American Baptists, Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Reformed Church in America with support from the United Methodists) was the vehicle for providing denominational support for the twenty-two various ecumenical campus ministries around the State. In some cases there would be two or three UMHE supported ministries on a single campus (Cornell and Syracuse) and other campuses receiving no UMHE support. In 1967 UMHE produced a two-page document that suggested experimenting with a team approach covering a geographical area rather than funding individual campus centered ministries.

By 1970 the State Commission of UMHE was ready to act on this new strategy. New York State was divided into nine geographical areas. The twenty-two campus ministers were assured of being funded through June 1972. The positions were then to be cut to seventeen and each campus minister needed to be committed to an “area ministry” and be shifted to a different area from the one in which they worked. This strategy meant the end of my ministry in Oswego and I was called to serve with Rev. Hugh Nevin in a ministry on Long Island covering the two counties of Nassau and Suffolk. I remember well the brief job description I had. “There are twenty-two institutions of higher education on Long Island. You are to relate to them.”

I came to Long Island in July 1972 to serve with Hugh as staff to the newly created Long Island United Campus Ministry. We developed a “project approach’ for LIUCM. Each project drew people from campuses, local churches, and the community at large, to address particular issues. Some examples were:

(1) The Peace Education Project which brought together faculty from both high schools and colleges to develop a peace education curriculum to be used in the high schools. This project was aided greatly by staff from the American Friends Service Committee New York City Office.

(2) Gay Community-Religious Community. This project provided for a dialogue between the gay community and our religious communions. Students and staff from five colleges participated and I assisted in the development of two organizations that address the needs of GLBT youth (Pride for Youth in Nassau and Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth in Suffolk). Both of these organizations continue to exist and have served hundreds of GLBT youth and their families on Long Island.

(3) A most significant program was our Vietnam Veterans Service Project. This project was developed to identify the needs of the returned Vietnam veterans and to assist these veterans in developing structures and strategies to address those needs; and to sensitize the university, the church and the community at large to address those needs and find ways to harness resources to address them. Before this project came to a close, over 16,000 Vietnam Veterans were contacted and served in some way.

(4) The Nassau Coalition on Family Planning. A New York State-wide study on adolescent sexuality indicated that Nassau County had the highest rate of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies of any other area in the State excluding New York City. I was asked to assist in putting together a coalition of university personnel, religious leaders, and community leaders. Representatives from four Nassau County colleges and several local pastors and community agencies produced a study titled “Children Bearing Children. The Coalition formed a Board and with various grants was able to hire a Director and Assistant Director. Out of this developed the Center for Family Resources. I served as its president for several years.

This is a sample of projects that developed interaction between Campus, Church, and Community.

In 1982, I cut back my position as Executive Minister of LIUCM to provide for part-time staff on certain campuses, and became Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Merrick and served also as Protestant Chaplain at CW Post College of Long Island University, serving in this dual role for 25 years until I retired from campus ministry in 2005 and from the Merrick Church in 2006.

From my first years in Oswego up to and including the present time I have been a member of NCMA, serving for a few years as representative of the Northeast Region and from 1979 until 1982 as Secretary of NCMA. I have attended most of the annual conferences and received the GNOME Award in 2000. In 2001 I received the Presbyterian Church USA Higher Education Honor Roll Award. I have found NCMA to provide stimulating conferences, a fellowship of colleagues in campus ministry, significant resources and a vehicle for keeping this ministry on the agenda of our denominations.