(Reporting from the scene in this News Bulletin!)
National Campus Ministry Association
launched in St. Louis
Higher Education Ministry leaders from major Protestant denominations gathered in late October at the historic Mark Twain Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, to give a face and a name to an ecumenical organization of professionals engaged in ministries in higher education.
Building on a history of denominationally based fellowships of those who serve in college and university faith communities, the development of a national body, by ordained campus clergy and lay student workers, is seen as a significant movement in the evolution of campus based ministries.
Student organizations of four denominations merged in 1960 to form the United Campus Christian Fellowship (UCCF). These four were the United Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church – Disciples of Christ, and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. These four denominations also had leadership roles in the creation of the United Ministries in Higher Education (UMHE) in 1964.
This movement represents the reality of a growing ecumenical spirit in many campus settings and the need to forge cooperative and united ministries with a wiser and more faithful witness in the use of professional leadership and in the utilization of campus facilities. UMHE has affirmed the wisdom of continuing the employment of regional and national staff by the several denominations, but their deployment in the service of the greater good, in the strengthening of the whole of the Churches’ ministries in higher education.
With the formation of the United Campus Christian Fellowship (UCCF) in 1960 and the United Ministries in Higher Education (UMHE) in 1964, both the student movement components and the national professional staffs were out front as visible and viable partners in the realm of higher education. Concurrent with these new alliances comes now an ecumenical association of professionals engaged in ministries in higher education.
When the executive committees of the UCC, Disciples, Presbyterian, and EUB denominations’ “Fellowships” or “Associations” of college and university pastors had met jointly as early as the summer of 1963, there was a consensus found for moving toward “a single association.”
An increasing number of denominations were joining the movement and supporting annual gatherings of ordained clergy and lay student workers. At the same time, as these “fellowships” began to be more inclusive and inter-denominational, there began to be a greater mix of students, faculty, and campus ministry professionals on individual campuses and in regional gatherings.
Thus, members and leaders of these denominational associations, in 1963 and 1964, issued a call for a joint meeting of representatives of each to meet on October 27, in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Mark Twain Hotel.
Those who came to St. Louis in late 1964 represented the Ministries of the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church – Disciples of Christ, the Evangelical United Brethren, and the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Joining them in this historic venture are Campus Ministry Associations of the American Baptist Church, the National Lutheran Church, and the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (Southern). Also present and participating are individual Ministers in Higher Education, representing the Methodist and the Episcopal Churches.
The name chosen by the assembled representatives is the National Campus Ministry Association. An Executive Committee made up of representatives was named and Dick Yeo, a long time Campus Minister of the United Church of Christ, serving the campuses of the Washington DC area, was named the first President.
We share a common calling as ministers in higher education, and we share a common faith, focused on our common journey and a commitment to the deepening of faith and knowledge wherever we serve.
(Submitted by George Gunn, Campus Minister, University of Arkansas, and
representing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.) on the Executive Committee.)