DREAM Catching by John Feagins

DREAM Catching

By John Feagins

From 2008 -2013, I was appointed to serve as director of San Antonio United Methodist Campus Ministry, following the venerable Rev. Dr. David Semrad, who had over the course of two and a half decades, consistently raised the consciousness of students concerning the importance of Christian witness and action for social justice. His ministry deployed both teaching and example, ranging from the “Hot Potato” lecture series, where faculty, experts, and students could interact, to the “Urban Plunge” that placed students on the city’s transit system, to ecumenical action and international mission projects.  My transition into campus ministry would not have been possible without his friendship and support.

In November of 2010, I had been leading a program with the UMSM organization where we held open-air discussions about whatever topic students would bring. After we finished, I noticed another group of students organizing to demonstrate in favor of the DREAM (Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act.  Having served in Hispanic ministry along the Mexican border and in San Antonio, and having close relationships with many undocumented neighbors, including several students, I was curious about the DREAM Act.  Hearing their explanation, I realized how important it was, and that there were clear moral implications for Christians in its adoption.

Dreamers are undocumented students who have been raised within the United States. Having been brought here by their legal guardians, they broke no laws when they entered the U.S.  They are intelligent, adaptive, successful, helpful young adults who are American in every way except their place of birth.   If we could not love them, who so loved us, how then, as Christians would we ever fulfill the commandment to love our enemies?

The students were using a bull-horn to call out to people to come sign their petition, yet with limited response. After sitting with them for a while, I explained that I was a campus minister with extensive public speaking experience.  I said, “If you would like, I could help you on that.”  They were quite tired of yelling and let me have a try.

I began by calling out with questions like “How many of you know the golden rule? How many believe we should live and let live?  How many cherish your freedom?  How many would want to live under the fear that a police state would come to your home, arrest you, and ship you off to a third-world country?  How many of you can tell the undocumented person from the citizen?  The student sitting next to you in class could disappear tonight!”

In short order, a long line formed to sign the petition. The students also secured signatures of University leaders, including the president.  At the end of the afternoon, we exchanged information, and they graciously invited me to other events they were holding.

Students on several campuses had been demonstrating as well, and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, had promised to move a vote on the legislation before the end of the year. The UTSA students were concerned with securing the vote of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who had once supported the measure, only to later conform to the bias of her party.

The demonstrators explained to me that they were launching a hunger strike (actually a careful fast monitored by doctors) to pressure Senator Hutchison to support the DREAM Act before the mid-term elections changed the political character of Congress.

I was blessed to join them on various occasions, for prayer vigils and to be invited by them to speak in public and to the media concerning the DREAM Act. On a number of occasions, I delivered public sermons, on campus and in front of the San Fernando Cathedral, laying out the inconsistencies in the ideology of those who oppose the DREAM Act, yet support family values, lower taxes, more national security, integrity in the stewardship of public funds, and such.  The last sermon challenged those who claim a literal interpretation of scripture to apply the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats to the plight of the dreamers:

Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I explained that the word for “stranger” is xenon, from which the word xenophobia is derived.  It means foreigner or alien.  Therefore, according to the teaching of Jesus, those who seek the unjust deportation of dreamers, those who would cruelly and maliciously pursue, arrest, and deport them from a familiar culture they love into a culture are damned to hell.

During the month long course of the demonstration, I invited Rev. Lorenza Smith, a colleague and immigration activist serving a church in San Antonio, to join their efforts. Rev. Smith joined their fast and chose to be arrested with the students when, after failing to get a response from Senator Hutchison, they remained in her office past closing hours.

We had many conversations prior to the sit-in, including a conversation about the distinction between civil disobedience, the intentional disobedience of an unjust law, and radical disobedience, breaking the law in the process of political demonstration.   The sit-in was an instance of the latter, done to express solidarity with those who are unwelcome within the United States and considered trespassers and to draw attention to the inhospitality of our leaders.

For the Dreamer, remaining, working, living, loving, sharing, making good grades, buying, selling, and paying taxes, are all civil disobedience.   Every breath taken of U.S. air is civil disobedience.  For everyone else, any act of friendship, hospitality, support, or love toward the Dreamer is an act of civil disobedience.  So xenophobic, evil, and misanthropic is our law!

UMCM supported the students’ efforts in a number of ways. We helped students travel to Washington where they met with the UM Board of Church and Society.  We accompanied them with prayer and pastoral support.  We marched with them and gathered other church leaders to their cause.  We opened the Methodist Student Center to their meetings and teach-ins, and we brought them to a prayer service at La Trinidad UMC where I now serve as pastor.   We hosted film screenings of undocumented filmmaker Pablo Veliz’s “Cardboard Dreams.” (Benita Veliz, Pablo’s sister, spoke at the Democratic National Convention.)   The efforts of Rev. Smith gathered the attention of the national church media.

Ultimately, while the DREAM Act failed in Congress, it succeeded within the UMC, with a resolution approved at the 2012 General Conference.

The DREAM Act hunger strike ended with a community-wide pot-luck supper held at Jefferson United Methodist Church, where my spouse, Rev. Raquel Cajiri Feagins, herself an immigrant from Bolivia who graduated first in her class from a U.S. high school, welcomed Mayor Julián Castro and leaders from many civic organizations to express appreciation for the courage and integrity of the students.

This solidarity and work did not take place without some controversy. Our own UTSA student group was indifferent and even uncomfortable with these efforts.  Some of our board members were offended, and suggested I should not become involved unless our student group wanted to be involved.  I explained that I was a campus minister, not a young adult pastor serving a private social group.  My duty was to the entire campus, students, faculty, and staff, even to God, as pastor and as witness.  While it may have offended some, our efforts opened many doors and relationships for ministry that have continued to this day.

In the Spring of 2013, I received word that I would be appointed to La Trinidad UMC, an historic downtown congregation built largely by the efforts of refugees and immigrants from Mexico. Several of the students I met during that demonstration continue serving the cause of social justice to this day, and some of them work in the same ministry area as La Trinidad UMC.  Those friendships, partnerships, and alliances forged in campus ministry now extend to the world parish, as the passion and hope for justice continues to extend the mercy and grace of Christ to those he came to save.

John Feagins served  local church appointments in La Feria, Laredo, and Chapel Hill UMC San Antonio, Texas, before his five years at San Antonio United Campus Ministries, and is now pastor at La Trinidad UMC San Antonio.



Campus Ministry and the University of the Earth by Ted Purcell


By Ted Purcell

Perhaps it all began in the Genesis command to “tend the garden” of creation, or what I have come to call “the original human vocation,” the responsibility to care for the earth, living in a sustainable and mutually-enhancing relationship with the planet and all beings with whom we share the on-going creation. As Thomas Berry reminds us, the earth is not a collection of objects, but a communion of subjects. The earth, our shared home, is not just a commodity to be consumed, but a community to which we all belong.

It is this inspiring reality which has been the basis of the emerging sense of calling that eventually led me into campus ministry, expressed through a series of contexts including a pastorate in a campus church (Cullowhee Baptist Church at Western Carolina University, 1970-74), and Baptist campus ministries at N.C. State University (15 years, 1974-89) and at Duke University (22 years, 1989-2010). Fifty years!

While at NCSU I followed my long-time practice of auditing occasional courses that continued my education for ministry and allowed me to relate to students in their world. 0nce I took a course in environmental ethics in which we were required to do a project in which we related our vocations/majors to our environmental ethics. Up to that time I had never systematically studied what that would mean for my vocation or for institutional religion. At various times my campus ministry role has allowed me to lead retreats, facilitate vocational discernment groups, and to enjoy class room teaching (Human Sexuality, Spirituality & Ecology,  and inter-faith dialogue). Although the obvious  relevance of each topic for campus ministry is abundant ( I completed my D.Min.in conjunction with co-teaching a course in Human Sexuality), nothing has enlivened my own spiritual journey so powerfully as the experience in myself and others of the sense of the Holy, the presence of the sacred in the natural world, and the throbbing awareness that the ecological crisis of our time is a spiritual and ethical issue of such magnitude that we ignore it at the peril of countless forms of being, including the human.

These brief reflections invite me to trace the thread that leads throughout my life, so that I enter into a long path that echoes the same refrain at every turn, often voiced by the science of ecology, with its focus on the interconnectedness, interdependence, and the interrelatedness of everything, and the distilled wisdom of the great spiritual traditions of the earth. With resounding insistence they seem to say to all who will listen: There is no such thing as “my life.” We are inseparably bound together, making the necessary journey from “I” to “we,” responding to the community of life which requires us to put the deepest love of which we are capable into action for the sake of the earth and  all her creatures. We can love with heart, soul, mind, and strength. And we can love our neighbors as ourselves.

The great privilege of campus ministry often includes extending relationships with students after they graduate. As I write these words, I am in northern California for an immersion into the great beauty of Yosemite and surrounding areas and a weekend of the Bioneers conference, as well as to greet a new baby in the family. I am also very excited about sharing time with several former students who participated in my classes and/or the vocational discernment groups I facilitated through the Duke Chapel’s Pathways program.

The course I taught, Spirituality & Ecology: Religious Perspectives on Environmental Ethics, was designed to help students examine  their values, attitudes, beliefs and  practices as these may affect their own environmental ethics, as well as to increase their understanding of the teachings of various religious traditions. In addition to reading texts, students kept weekly journals and wrote a paper on the process of their evolving environmental ethic and how it connects with their own vocational work. Some of the impetus for the course came after I was invited to submit a proposal to the Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment following our joint sponsorship of a campus series of lectures by Thomas Berry on The Role of the University in Earth-Human Relationships.

My interactions with the students also included some counseling, weddings, continuing correspondence, and some informal spiritual direction, another aspect of my vocation, which I have been practicing for many years. So here I am, four years after my retirement from the Religious Life staff at Duke, somewhere in between the way it was and the way it is. Lately I’ve been learning to live with Parkinson”s disease, which is clearly, for me, another dimension of the spiritual journey. One of my most fascinating activities is some recent interaction with the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, where I spoke recently on a panel addressing a group of professional yoga teachers on Aging and Spirituality.

But what about campus ministry? Knocking on the big 80, I’m still doing it, only now my campus is the universe, which, by the way, is what the University is supposed to be teaching about, right? Not just how to serve the extractive economy, but how to be in a relationship of intimacy and wonder with all that is.

And the students? They are still with us, here and now, often ready to lead us into the future. At least the ones I know are ready to chant: “It hasn’t all happened yet!” It’s about something called hope. As one of my favorite writers, the poet-farmer Wendell Berry, suggested, be joyful even when you know the facts. I believe it’s good counsel.







Called OUT of Campus Ministry to Motherhood by Debra Brazzel

Called OUT of Campus Ministry to Motherhood

By Debra Brazzel

My diverse experiences in campus ministry span a period of over 25 years, from Texas to North Carolina. I enjoyed almost everything about working in ministry in higher education, and found it to be a very welcome place for a feminist clergywoman to explore new dimensions of ministry—and of herself. But I chose to “give up” this vocation to “take on” full-time motherhood for almost fifteen years before designing a new career—as a “minister for all occasions”!

In the summer of 1984, beginning my 3rd year of seminary at Perkins School of Theology, SMU, I took a campus ministry course with Betsy Alden and Mark Rutledge. I loved the class and was intrigued by the idea of meeting people where they were by bringing the church to the campus. The campus ministry programs we explored were creative, relevant and meaningful. With serendipity (another word for grace), there was an opening for a part-time campus minister at Mountain View Community College and I was hired for this position at one of the seven campuses of the Dallas Community College District. The Dallas Community College Ministry was sponsored by the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Greater Dallas Community of Churches, with more than 200 Christian and Jewish member congregations. This was the ministry that Betsy created before taking a position as National Communications Coordinator for United Ministries in Higher Education.  I worked with her successor, Georjean Blanton, and six other wonderful campus ministers.

Providing campus ministry on a community college campus was challenging because all of the students were commuters. Most of them had one or two jobs, in addition to their college work, so they were busy! How do you connect in meaningful ways with people who are literally coming or going? The Praxis program was a creative way to meet these students where they were – in the classroom! Each semester, I worked with 25 classes and presented the opportunity for service learning to hundreds of students. I was able to meet with 30-50 students a semester to meaningfully reflect upon their experiences with the people they served, to engage each other in significant conversation and to deepen their exploration of the courses they were taking. It was a brilliant model, especially for the community college context.

I was there for five years. Very quickly, I realized that I needed to build an ongoing community, and the obvious starting place was with faculty and staff, the people who stayed through the constantly changing student population. I formed wonderful relationships with the faculty who offered Praxis through their classes, with the counseling and programming staff and with the administrators. They were kindred spirits, and I found many enduring friends and discovered many collaborators for ministry outreach to students and staff.  (Ann Fletcher, a counselor, hosted a post-wedding brunch for me at her home).

I formed a spirituality group for faculty and staff that met once a week for years for meditation and spiritual practice.  With Ann Fletcher, I founded the Buddy Program that paired American students with new immigrant students (mostly from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia), in which students met for casual conversation, and out of this growing community, we formed an International Club that met weekly. We made literally thousands of homemade eggrolls to raise money for the group to plan activities that helped strangers become friends. On eggroll days, you could smell them wafting through the campus the moment you entered the doors! We went bowling, camping, to people’s homes and even a spring break trip to Florida. We had one young African-American man with severe cerebral palsy who found loving support and community in this group. I loved being part of it.

As I engaged more meaningfully with the community at Mountain View, I was offered a part-time job as a grant writer/administrator of a program we called Life Transitions. This allowed me to stay on at Mountain View after graduating from seminary and, with the campus ministry position, gave me full-time work and a full-time ministry appointment. The grant allowed us to set up an on-site day and evening child care program for adult women returning to school, where we offered counseling, financial aid and programming since most of the women were single mothers struggling to provide for their families. I had already established a women’s spirituality group for students that met weekly, which fit very well with this focus on women in transition. I did collaborative programming with the counseling center and with Guy Gooding, who coordinated student programming. I was also asked to teach a World Religions course for a couple of semesters and an Ethics course. I was the staff “pray-er” for community gatherings — opening days, graduations, holidays. I learned to be comfortable with people of many religious traditions and those of no tradition. We even held the first Interfaith Worship Service at the college. I will always be grateful for my time at Mountain View and know that my openness to people of many different cultural and religious backgrounds was nurtured in this community.

My next campus ministry position was Assistant Dean of Duke Chapel from 1991-1994, Associate Dean from 1994-1996, Acting Dean from 1996-1997, and Associate Dean from 1997-1998. I was also Director of Religious Life for Duke University from 1991-1998– challenging and varied work that I loved!

Having worked as a campus minister for five years, I was naturally supportive of the campus ministers at Duke. In my tenure, we grew from a staff of 14 to 20 campus ministers. Unlike many campuses, where denominational and para-church staff were antagonistic toward one another, we had a collaborative approach that welcomed and provided funding and space for many Christian groups. With a commitment to interfaith presence, we invited a Muslim imam to the staff, welcomed a Buddhist monk and supported the rabbi’s work to raise funds for a Jewish Life Center. We also added a Black Campus Ministries staff position. Each campus minister was hired by the university and given a nominal annual salary and a staff identity card. This gave them status as university staff with access to university buildings and resources. My position as a university administrator afforded me the opportunity to make connections that helped boost the visibility and credibility of the campus ministry staff as a whole and helped us advocate for the needs of the various religious communities at Duke.

Most of the denominational campus ministries at Duke did not have individual houses, but instead had small offices in the basement of Duke Chapel. All the campus ministries, those with and those without offices, shared a secretary, a conference room, a lounge, a kitchen, a computer room, and a copy machine. A lot of coordination was required but this became one of our strengths. Because the staff knew each other well, they were better able to negotiate conflicts when they arose. It also created an atmosphere of trust that allowed people to speak the truth to one another without destroying friendships.

We worked hard to foster these relationships. The campus ministry staff had two retreats a year (a two-day retreat before school started and a day-long retreat after it ended). We met bi-weekly for business meetings where we addressed everything from “who left the kitchen a mess” to strategies to ease racial tension and work for justice (the Rodney King beatings and the ending of apartheid were in this era). We also met bi-weekly for staff development. We invited people from the university that our staff needed to know (i.e., the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Director of the Counseling Center, the Dean of Students and many others). Sometimes staff shared their knowledge or interests with the group. Sometimes we dealt with problems, like the presence of religious cults on campus (we developed a student brochure on “How to Discern Healthy From Destructive Religious Groups”.) We worked on annual service projects including Gleaning Day, CROP Walk, and the OXFAM fast. We invited religious speakers such as Tony Campolo, the Brothers of Taize, John Shelby Spong, Thomas Moore, Thomas Berry, Matthew Fox and Huston Smith (one of our colleagues said he wouldn’t attend but would pray for us, and that was okay!). We hosted a two-day regional Renovare Conference with Richard Foster for more than 500 people. We held several ecumenical and interfaith worship services annually including Blessing of the Animals, Holocaust Remembrance, an Advent Service of Lessons and Carols and Ash Wednesday. We sponsored religious art exhibits and plays such as Mark’s Gospel by Max McLean and the Gospel of Luke by Bruce Kuhn. The possibilities were limited only by time and imagination.

Duke Chapel provided extra funding to campus ministry groups for programming, especially international and domestic mission trips. Fall break, spring break, and summer mission experiences gave students the chance to work in places of great need. I co-led a student group to Washington D.C. over spring break with the Catholic campus minister, Sister Peg, and again the next year with the Episcopal campus minister, Ann Hodges-Copple. Twice, I was a member of a medical mission team to Honduras with Duke physicians, nurses and medical students. As anyone who has ever done mission work knows, the impact you make on the places and people you visit is small; the impact these relationships and experiences make upon you is inestimable. Through the Chapel we were able to sponsor hundreds of students for mission. Many others were sponsored for spiritual renewal through youth conferences and pilgrimages to places like Mepkin Abbey and the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

As a worship leader at Duke Chapel, I got to know students, faculty members, choir members, and people from the community who participated in one of the most vibrant university chapels in the country with weekly worship attendance from 1000-1700. Planning and participating in more than 60 worship services a year at Duke Chapel, I was blessed to hear some of the best preaching in the world (including Peter Gomes, Barbara Brown Taylor, Thomas Long, Samuel Proctor, Walter Bruggemann, Elizabeth Achtemeier, Fred Craddock, James Earl Massey and of course, William H. Willimon, my boss). Being a part of such exceptional weekly worship gave me the opportunity to hone my worship and preaching skills.

There were also many university services. Opening Convocation for freshmen featured Maya Angelou (she encouraged and challenged Duke students for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1989). The annual Founder’s Day was full of pomp and circumstance and distinguished guests. Baccalaureate services were so well attended that even with limited tickets, it required three services. I was part of the historic inauguration service for Nannerl Keohane, the first woman president of Duke. Other memorable services included the funeral of Terry Sanford and memorial services for Doris Duke and Princess Diana. Weekly Choral Vespers and Taize prayer services deepened the life of the spirit and provided consecrated moments for prayer in the beautiful Chapel worship spaces. In addition to these “university functions,” I was often called upon to exercise the roles of ministry by officiating at weddings, funerals and baptisms, and counseling students and adults.

Outside of worship, there were numerous opportunities to connect with students and the extended Duke Chapel community. In the summer of 1996, I led a group of students and community members on a 10-day spiritual pilgrimage to Taize in France. I was blessed to go on three international Duke Chapel Choir tours – to Poland and the Czech Republic in 1993, to England in 1995 (where the choir sang the Messiah at St. Martin in the Fields) and a ground-breaking trip to China with 200 members of the Chapel Choir in 1997.

One of my passions since seminary has been women’s spirituality. At Duke, I found a kindred spirit in Martha Simmons, the founding director of the Duke Women’s Center. Beginning in 1993, Martha and I led women’s spirituality classes called “Exploring Women’s SpiritualityThrough Literature” for graduate and undergraduate women. We led these classes/groups for five consecutive semesters and utilized many resources to tap into women’s experiences of the sacred. Some of the women continued to participate over several years and we added new women each semester. From 1994-97, we offered the same course for twelve women through Duke’s continuing education program. The women who attended the community classes ranged in age from 30 to 60+, and in these women, we found a hunger for depth and connection to God and each other. The 1994 class formed an ongoing women’s spirituality group that has met monthly for twenty years! Martha and I are a part of the group, and in the way of women’s spirituality, the leadership is shared. My life has been immeasurably enriched through these experiences of the sacred in and through women.

In 1997, I was invited to serve on a steering committee with Chris Gellings, Lori Pistor, Jeannette Stokes and Carol Voisin, the Director of the Center for Theological Education at Duke Divinity School. We were charged with identifying thirty women to commit to meet for 10 months in the Women’s Spirituality Project to develop a women’s spirituality curriculum. Dennis Campbell, the Dean of the Divinity School, provided funding for the project. The women were from many denominations, clergy and lay people, with one Jewish participant. There was a two day opening retreat, followed by monthly gatherings and a closing two day retreat. Many different readings and spiritual practices were explored and each section was evaluated. Unfortunately, there was a change of leadership at the Divinity School and the curriculum was never repeated. However, a group called Spirited Women formed at the end of this project and continues to meet twice a month for shared spiritual practice with rotating leadership. I participate in both these ongoing women’s spirituality groups, and the groups meet once a year for a weekend retreat.

Subsequently, some of us participated in a year-long women’s spirituality course at Duke Divinity School with Teresa Berger, who taught an undergraduate class titled “Women’s Vocations: Leadership, Power, and Constraint in the Christian Tradition.” This rich experience provided some of the inspiration for Dr. Berger’s 2005 book, Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women.

In 1995, I was part of a delegation of 10 clergy and laity from Durham, North Carolina for a trip to our sister city, Kostroma, Russia. We were joined there by clergy and laity from our sister city, Durham, England. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen the ties between our cities and churches. We explored ways that the western church responds to the needs of our communities through mission outreach. As the Russian Orthodox Church emerged from decades of being “forbidden,” their priests were faced with the tremendous task of rebuilding churches and meeting the dire needs of their congregations. Many continuing relationships between the three sister cities were established. Some of those Russian church leaders later made visits to Durham, North Carolina and our churches have helped support their work.

I have had other wonderful experiences in ministry at Duke beyond these years on staff at Duke Chapel. I worked at the Kenan Ethics Institute, taught classes through Duke Divinity School’s Course of Study program, and worked with the Lilly Endowment for Vocational Discernment and the PathWays program at Duke Chapel. Through all my work in college and university settings, I have found that campus ministry is primarily relational. Just as Christ ate with people and drank with them and touched them and sat down with them around campfires, so do campus ministers. We share countless meals and stories; we build trust, often through our vulnerability to one another; and we are transformed, even as we seek to transform. The best worship experiences arise out of our connectedness to each other and to God. I could not have found better work in ministry.

The needs of my family led me to leave full-time ministry. Being a working mother with one child was manageable, but after I had twins in my early forties, I felt I could not do justice to my family and my job and stay whole. Many women in ministry face this dilemma, and I was fortunate that we could live on my husband’s salary, augmented with my part-time ministry work.

The intense physical caregiving required for infant twins and a three-year old made it clear that I had to find a way to nurture myself. When I discovered yoga, it felt like a drink of cool water in the desert. From the first class, I wanted more! In addition to several classes a week, I did a six-month Anusara immersion program in my first year of practice. Then, as soon as I was eligible, I signed up for an EmbodiYoga teacher training for a year, then the advanced training for a year, then two years assisting. (All of this training meant one weekend a month away from relentless caregiving demands and gave my husband a chance to be closer to our children). I also did a yearlong Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine. It was never my intent to teach yoga and mindfulness, only to get more of it for myself, but it was so life-giving that I had to share it! I have now been teaching restorative yoga and mindfulness for seven years. The contemplative practices of yoga, mindfulness and meditation have deepened my spirituality and influenced how I do ministry.

Now that my children are older, I am returning to full-time ministry with a new venture called “Minister for All Occasions.” (DebraBrazzel.com) I offer a variety of ministry services, including designing rituals for special events especially targeted to those outside the local church. I teach yoga and mindfulness to groups and individuals, lead retreats and workshops, and reflect with others on their journeys. Despite the challenge of re-entering the professional world, I do not regret my choices. I have new skills and understandings I would not have gotten otherwise, and my own children are as stimulating and provocative as college students—and I will get to see how they turn out!





NCMA: An Obvious Thing To Do! by David Burnight


NCMA : An Obvious Thing To Do!

by David Burnight


I was happy to be an APUP delegate to the 1964 gathering in St. Louis which created NCMA.  It was an obvious thing to do.  We were all pleased that the wheels of denominational structure could move in such a reasonable way.  We welcomed each other!

Looking back, it strikes me that connections with WSCF (World Student Christian Federation), APUPs(Association of Presbyterian University Pastors) ,  NCMA, and all the gathered campus brothers and sisters thereof, have added to my education as much as any course or seminar.  What a great bunch of people I have been privileged to know!    Experimental forms of spirituality, ways of doing intercultural education and exposing justice issues, contact with movements like Taize  — all these have been gifts to me.

Extracurricular gifts were often surprises.  One was in 1954.  Just three years out of seminary, I was happy to be preparing for a visit to our Cal Aggie Christian Association at UCDavis, from a young man in Guatemala who was to tour the U.S. under the sponsorship of WSCF, talking about Christian faith and international sharing.   Abruptly, he called it off!    Our U.S. had sponsored a coup which overthrew the democratically elected president of Guatemala.  It quickly came out that John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, and his brother Allen Dulles, CIA Director, had large holdings in United Fruit Company.   President  Arbenz  wanted to nationalize United Fruit, or at least arrange for Guatemalans to get a bigger share of the banana business.   He was labeled a “Communist.”   Our young Christians protested America’s arrogance.   This all startled me, because one seminary professor had held up J.F.Dulles, a Presbyterian elder, as a shining example of Christian involvement in political life!  My naive view of the way our nation and churches work was seriously modified!

Actually, a similar confrontation for me occurred in 1952, but it took a while for it to sink in.  At the Presbyterian General Assembly, a missionary from Iran came into a meeting of the Missions Committee. He reported that the American/English upsetting of Premier Mossadegh was very disturbing, and likely to have dire consequences.  Churches, in general, paid little attention. . .. The rest is, of course, history!

In 1964 my associate John Pamperin and I chartered a bus to take 30 students, faculty, local clergy and townspeople from San Diego, CA to meet MLK Jr. on his march into Montgomery, as he had invited.   We were not surprised at the sullen reception given by the white people there.  But we were inspired by the gentle sturdy faith of the black church folks who hosted us.  Singing hymns together that night brought tears to everyone’s eyes! . . . After King’s speech, next day, we started back, reading the local newspapers on the bus.  The coverage of the event was so skewed and misleading that it was really a lie.   The big side story was that a black man and white woman had been found fornicating on the fringes of the march!   If the press could so misrepresent what we had just experienced, what might this mean back home about our own newspaper’s coverage of the Viet Nam war?  Another eye-opener!  (The faith experiences were good sympathetic material for talks to churches in conservative parts of California.)

APUP and NCMA gatherings were always awareness openers and learning experiences.  When the Nicaraguan revolution was going on, the first clear whispers of it came to me from fellow UP’s at our national conference.  So in 1981, Jim White and I took some students from SDSU and Long Beach State to Nicaragua, for a 10 day visit.   Though missionaries and other aware Americans were holding weekly protests outside the American Embassy in Managua, the American press ignored them, and repeated the Kissinger line about the “brave Contras.”  The interviews and photos which we took back became provocative material for student discussions and for sermons in local churches.

These are a plus to all the personal gifts of growing faith and love which I  had from students and faculty.  We were trying to be a community which understood and practiced spiritual Universals, and welcomed everybody’s Truth.   Now this seems to be happening in many quarters!   There is hope!

  My campus ministry assignments were:  University of California at Davis, 1951-1966;  San Diego State University,  1966-1994.

These 20 years of retirement have been lively, but they are difficult to describe.  For a while I hung in with the Presbytery, chairing the Peacemaking Committee and then the Social Concerns committee.  The committee folks were fine, but the stupid hassles over homosexual policies became such a block to anything else that I stopped having any part of it.  Ginny is a Vatican II Catholic, and I have participated with her in a lot of activities of her parish.(even though I can’t say the Nicene Creed with them!). Bible study with liberal Catholics can be fun.  We went to Turkey with Pacifica Foundation, and since then have been in a Muslim-Christian dialogue group, including Ramadan meals together.  I have kept in touch with a lot of former students from Intersection House (SDSU), and I publish an annual alumni newsletter for about 150 of them.  Other than that, I’m not good for much.

An Ecumenical Journey: Remembering the Story of Campus Christian Ministry at the University of Washington by David Royer

An Ecumenical Journey:  Remembering the story of Campus Christian Ministry at the University of Washington

by David B. Royer

I tell this story as a participant in events that ran from the mid- sixties into the early nineties. I came in touch with campus ministry in my first weeks as an associate minister in South Pasadena, CA.  The senior pastor and I had just arrived there and on our desks was an announcement of a meeting where the campus minister at Los Angeles State would be asked to defend himself against charges of being a radical if not a communist.  When I arrived at my job as associate minister at University Congregational (UCC) church in Seattle, I was told my first meeting was across the street for a board meeting of Koinonia Center (the Baptist, Disciples, UCC campus ministry). So I’ve been involved with campus ministry from my first job in 1965 until I left  CCM in 1991.

While I once had stacks of documents that detailed the history at the U.W, I long ago turned them over to those who followed me in that ministry at the University. What was stored on my computer disappeared with a hard drive crash and I saw no reason to try to resurrect that mass of documents.  I have found a couple of newsletters and a ministry review from 1989 some of which I have used and adapted for this story.  It is well over twenty years since I left CCM and at seventy five, some memories come more slowly.  I share here in broad brush strokes my recollections, reflections and musings on how a unique ministry was established and lasted for nearly a quarter century. Throughout the life of CCM there was always some pressure to return to a denominational “foundation” style of ministry or to move toward a campus chaplaincy model like the ministries at our denominationally related colleges and private universities.  But, CCM found another way to journey for quite a while.

The roots of Campus Christian Ministry at the University of Washington were nurtured from several sources.  By the mid sixties the American Baptists, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the UCC were funding a common ministry at Koinonia Center with two staff.  About this time the Methodist Wesley Foundation hired a new staff person very dedicated to ecumenical conversation and programming and a new Presbyterian staff member of the same bent came to the Westminster Foundation.  These two immediately joined in weekly conversation with the staff members at Koinonia, the Priest at the Newman Center, and two staff representing the Lutherans.  So ecumenical conversation was alive and well.

Add to this mixture several associate ministers from the churches in the University District who met weekly to plan joint adult education ventures and youth retreats. I sat with this group as a staff member at University Congregational (UCC) responsible for youth and adult education.  We also met with the campus ministers from time to time.  Conversation often turned to mission, and the seeds of joint ventures and collaborative ministries to serve the U. District community and the University began to grow.  There were also two Senior Pastors (a protestant pastor and elderly Catholic priest) who truly enjoyed conversations

with the “young Turks” and met with this group with some regularity.  The Dominican priest said he needed a place to “explore contemporary theology” with these recent seminary graduates.  Through this group we influenced some of the speakers at the University District Lectures sponsored by several congregations.  Amongst speakers during the mid-sixties were Samuel Miller, Harvey Cox, William Stringfellow, and Krister Stendahl.  We lobbied for these and others who were Christian educators and scholars, policy makers, folks in governance, and who were involved in prophetic inquiry.  This stew pot was almost ready for a banquet, and conversation moved toward further action.

Another voice in the late sixties was The Danforth Foundation. They published a study “The Church, the University, and Social Policy” authored by Kenneth Underwood which advocated  ministry to the University which went well beyond the pastoral and priestly modes of ministry – the ministry to individuals and the proclamation of faith. He said the other modes of ministry were those of the prophet and king.  We were called to prophetic inquiry, studying and judging the level of humaneness of the social order moving it toward change required for approximate justice in our world.  The kingly role takes up governance and the expression of neighbor love through responsible corporate action in the shaping of social policy.  He also strongly advocated an ecumenical approach to ministry in higher education.  The national higher education staff of our denominations brought this study to our attention.  They widely distributed copies of “New Wine,” a summary of the Study, and encouraged campus ministers to share it with parish colleagues as an opportunity for continuing dialogue about the nature of ministry.  The seeds from “New Wine” also fell on fertile ground in the U. District of Seattle.

I believe the next event that nurtured the possibility of establishing an ecumenical campus ministry was a convocation co-sponsored by Koinonia Center and University Congregational Church. The convocation was designed by the Christian Faith and Higher Education institute and staffed by H. Lynn Jondahl (some may recognize him as the campus minister at LA State).  This event brought together all possible participating denominational executives, campus ministers, students, and faculty and representatives of local congregations to consider issues of ministry.  It was three days of exercises, discussions, and brain storming, ending on Sunday morning where Jondahl was the preacher at University Congregational Church.

Soon after, there were a series of self- studies and reviews of the existing ministries and the visit of a national review team. All ministries agreed to participate, including some participation of the Newman Center although they weren’t represented on the review team.  I believe the team included Sam Kirk (Methodist), Verlyn Smith (NLCM), William Hallman (Presbyterian) Richard Bolles (Episcopalian), Bill Shinto (American Baptist) and Verlyn Barker (UCC).  Perhaps the convocation was in 1967 and self studies and reviews were 1968.  They reviewed the self study documents, interviewed denominational executives and bishops, talked to faculty and students, and had individual conversations with all staff.

The review teams recommended that the ministries explore a common mission, board and staff. They believed that “a shared vision, a shared ministry, allowing still for diversity can best find strength and focus within the bonds of ecumenicity, lived out under the same roof.”  The review team pointed out areas that needed the attention of the ministry at the University of Washington:  a) the Med School and Law School (their faculty and student needs and ethical explorations in those fields)  b) more creative involvement with minority students,  c) the street scene in the University community with its homelessness, drug issues, conflicts between businesses and the counter culture. d) addressing the needs of the gay and lesbian communities and their isolation. e) exploring the issues of career, life work planning and vocation  and f) marriage preparation and counseling.  This was to my mind very exciting, and within the year I resigned my positions at University Congregational and Koinonia Board, applied for the open position at Koinonia, said “yes” to a call and moved across the street to Koinonia Center.

The year was 1969 when a new ministry at the University of Washington meant to give expression to the prayer for the community of faith, “that they may all be one” came to fruition.  Nine denominations including Roman Catholics (as represented by the Dominican Order with the approval of the Archbishop), Episcopal, Lutheran (ALC/LCA), the United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples), American Baptist, Presbyterian, and United Methodist joined together in a common ministry.  The effort was spearheaded by local campus ministers, district clergy, faculty board members, student participants, several denominational executives.  Final decisions about staff were to be retained by denominations or UMHE .  CCM was to have a common personnel committee with which denominations were to consult about the needs of the ministry.  In practice personnel decisions were always made with broad ecumenical participation and at least on one occasion as coordinator I was asked by a Bishop to interview a candidate on the East coast.

At the beginning our staff included four clergy representing the UMHE denominations, three Catholic staff of two Dominican priests and one Dominican sister, one Lutheran pastor, and one Episcopal priest. And we operated out of three centers –Koinonia, Newman Center and the Lutheran Center.  The new board was committed to a single location where staff, students, faculty and board members could share life together. The process was hurried along when the ancient Wesley Foundation building was in such bad shape that its board made a decision to demolish the building and not rebuild at present.  The Westminster Foundation building was in a very poor location.  Under the leadership of their new staff member a decision was made to try to rent out that space. The Methodist staff member moved into Koinonia.  There was little more room available in that building.

We continued to discuss the possibilities for common space. Buy? Expand the Westminster facility?  Build on the Wesley lot?  Then the University YMCA building became available to share with the Y Director.  We decided to lease the space with the agreement if we decided to purchase that building, the lease money would apply to the purchase.  So we all moved into that building in steps.  I believe it was in the 1972/73 school year just as I was asked to become Staff Coordinator.  This architect designed building was very beautiful and a wonderfully humane space.  There were office space for all staff, a common room for worship, and two lounge rooms for classes and meetings.  There were a few changes that had to be made, dividing two larger spaces into two office each.  We finished the ceiling in the worship space as per the architects original design.

We finally purchased the facility and celebrated the purchase of the building in October of 1977. In an address at the dedication I enumerated what had taken place over the prior twenty four months.  We had been through a wilderness to get ourselves to the place we wanted to be.  “Our denominations, our families, truly put us through their hoops, through seventeen boards  and thirty three decision making processes by Bishops and Denominational Executives, commission, committees, lawyers and bankers. (That is by actual count and doesn’t include the hours of debate, informal meetings, discussions, arguments, meeting to rewrite our bylaws, and going over architect’s drawings, walking the district to look over properties.)”

We figured and negotiated the appropriate denominational capital investments in the facility and buy-back arrangements were written with agonizing care from the very beginning. Many details had to be fussed over.  Several staff and board members wanted data about program support and costs for building and support expenses.  Our wonderful administrative assistant offered to keep track of such information for a while. She kept counts to build a common budget.  After much counting – of participants, of paper use, of demands on secretarial help, of use of paper clips, toilet flushes, flips of light switches,  etc, etc, etc., we gave up that task and she was quite relieved.  After discussion and careful review of every financial resource available, we agreed that we would use for program costs the same percentages used for investment in the building.  Basic support of program for UNHE and the Roman Catholics would be one third each, the Lutherans and Episcopalians one sixth each.  Program monies were supplemented for UMHE from the sale of Koinonia Center, Westminster Foundation and from the parking lot where Wesley House was torn down.  The sale of the Newman Center and rental of the Lutheran Center also provided income.

What did all this mean in terms of mission focus and program development? Immediately after the formation of CCM some staff specialization began to take place and staff diversity increased. Over the next twenty years these new inquiries and programs took shape.  Below are departments at the University we addressed , issues and constituencies of special concern and programs established with special attention from CCM staff.  I can only briefly address each.  You can finds fuller explanation by Thomas McCormick and Susan Y. Morris of their program involvement in what they have written for this project.

  1. The Medical School –inquiry into needs and issues. Established discussion groups with medical students. That led to counseling med students which led to the Med School realization  of the need for a new student counseling program.  The new program hired our staff part time for counseling.  Medical ethics issues were engaged and over time a new Department of Bioethics and Humanities was established, and again our staff became part of the faculty.  Cancer Life/Line cancer support group established with its roots in the medical school and our staff.  The ministry supported the staff salary for this work in the early years.  As his work became established he moved from part-time to full salary and became adjunct staff  without pay at CCM.   He is still busy at the Med School.  (see article by Tom McCormick)

2. Inquiry into university governance and issues related to religious studies and the establishment of an environmental program were both carried by one staff. These were two thorny issues. Religious studies was in trouble because of a law suit against the University by conservative religious groups for the “Bible As Literature” course.  They believed the University was teaching religion and that violated the separation of Church and State. The suit was slowly moving to the State Supreme Court.  Once settled in favor of the U., our staff became an advocate not only the course but for a Department of Comparative Religion.  Working with the professor of the Bible as Lit course, the two of them gathered support for the department, which was established.  The environment issue was thorny because there was jealousy and competition among departments as to which was the appropriate department to recommend a Department of Environmental Studies be established.  It is now a College of the Environment with co-opted faculty from several departments.  Work in this area also led to a foundation grant to CCM to aid student establishment of the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WASHPIRG).  It was one of the early PIRGs and is still a major factor in the environmental field in our area.

  1. Exploration of Campus/U. District scene — In 1969, I was the newest staff without any defined portfolio . In light of unrest and violence in the district, toxic relationships between activist and the police, the board asked that I get on the street to investigate possibilities dealing with homelessness, hunger, drug abuse, student unrest and demonstration, relationship between businesses, the U., students, and churches. I established relationships with the two most recent ASUW presidents, a local attorney, several shop owners, the editor of the Helix (underground newspaper), several faculty, two or three clergy. This group became a coalition that incorporated the U District Center ,which established programs including, a meal program and health clinic,  encouraged a Community Service Bureau (attached to the office of the mayor), emergency housing for minors, etc.  Funded by church and business donations and a Federal Law and Justice grant, the Center became a neutral ground where diverse constituencies could meet to talk and negotiate.  The weekly feeding program has been taken over by a new non- profit and, in cooperation with U District churches, has support for a daily meal.  Housing and health organizations in the area trace their roots back to our effort.

4.  Ministry with International Students –staff continued support for English Conversation Class which had a long history in the ministry. This served wives of international students who needed help with language skills and also needed a community of support. The class was taught by the 50 volunteers and childcare was provided.  While originally formed by Baptist church women, the CCM Guild took on the volunteer task and owned it as an ecumenical program.  Later we received a Presbyterian grant for a 1/2 staff position to expand programs with international students, which led to gathering students for meals, discussion and support.  Our staff person became an advocate for international students on the campus and in the community and also helped students and families with visa and other immigration difficulties.

  1. Peace and Justice Issues, Native American and Prison Ministry – The weekly program for inmates at the Monroe Correctional Center was begun by Lutheran staff. A group of students and church volunteers met with up to forty prisoners each week for discussion and support. Several education classes were established and continuing education and training was encouraged.  The prison program continues to exist today carried out independently by volunteers.  This staff member was also our contact with anti-nuclear and anti-war activists, gave leadership to the Peace Action Coalition (with roots in the Lutheran and Methodist ministries), Washington Association of Churches.  In solidarity with the Roman Catholic Archbishop, he was involved with the anti-Trident demonstrations.  Both he and the Archbishop were involved in civil disobedience.  A core group of students were active in this work.  The staff member was also our contact with the Native America students and communities and garnered support for Treaty Rights.  The U.S. Supreme Court Decision upholding the Boldt decision granted the tribes access to half the available fish quoted almost verbatim an AMICUS brief written at CCM under his staff leadership with students and faculty from the Law School, School of Fisheries and participants from the Native American community.

6.  Marriage Preparation — This priority in ministry came about first by the demands on staff time in counseling couples approaching marriage and the Protestant interaction with Catholic priests who were leading Pre- Cana classes at the Center. The priests began to consult married staff and ask Protestant staff to lead sessions on marriage communication skills, issues of dealing with anger management, and other relational issues. Thus, marriage preparation became a matter of discussion, with the hope to develop a program useful to all denominations in the ministry.  We soon hired a 1/2 time staff to lead in developing a marriage preparation program.  She, working with other staff and lay volunteers, developed a full blown program.  The program authored its own curriculum, and once it got fully going it served more than 250 participants a year in weekend retreats for marriage preparation.  Many area congregations sent their members to our program.  The Roman Catholic Archdiocese approved the program for Pre- Cana requirements if a priest would follow up with a session on Catholic theology.  The program also made available couples enrichment events for local congregations.  The curriculum has been used as an ecumenical and interfaith model at other universities and churches across the nation.  We also adapted the materials for gay and lesbian couples.  (see article by Susan Y. Morris)

  1. Work with Minority Students — Expanded involvement started with international students and expanded more when we hired two new staff who were minorities. Work with the Black Student Union and the Associated Students resulted in further new programs with indigent and disenfranchised students at the U. and broader community. One staff became involved in the national UMHE committee on Community Colleges Ministry.  He worked with Central Area pastors to encourage their involvement with community colleges in their neighborhood, was involved with a Seattle Housing Authority low income housing project, and helped students gain access to that resource.  Both staff became informal advisors to the BSU and provided stability to its efforts.

8.   Career, Life/work Planning — After implementing the street ministry, I was assigned to inquire and explore what was happening on the campus related to vocation, choosing a major, and career choice. I discovered a very small staff for a student body of over 30,000 at the career center used more by graduates looking for work rather than students seeking help with vocational choice.  Ninety percent of its effort was job placement, with a limited testing regimen for those seeking career advice. Our son was entering North Seattle Community College at this time and I was interested that students entering a degree track were required to take a Career Center course which focused on choice of major and future career.  The same was true for all community colleges in the Seattle system.  In response, the Board decided to begin a program in Life/work planning and I was supported to attend an extensive workshop led Richard N. Bolles of What Color is Your Parachute renown.  I began a program modeled on that experience using the resources authored by Bolles then partnered with our marriage prep coordinator to develop a specialized program for couples, for use in local congregations, for those planning for retirement etc.  The Career Center began to take notice and some progress could be seen in programs there to help students with future choices.


  1. Ministry to Women– As staff came and went, more women entered our mix; at times there were as many as four women on the staff. Several Catholic women religious were present along with as many as three women representing other denominations.  Programs were developed to attend to special interest and needs of women, and realtionships were established with the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence.  The Marriage Prep program addressed more clearly the need for anger and conflict management skills and other areas dealing with violence.  In response to this effort there was also a men’s group established for conversation and support.

10. Pastoral and Liturgical Ministry — Of course, pastoral care for students and faculty continued as before. All staff carried responsibility in this area. There were weddings and funerals, personal crises, couple facing possible divorce, and all other manner of human need.

We began the ecumenical ministry with three opportunities for weekly worship. There was Sunday Catholic Mass, The Table of the Lord led by Protestant staff on Thursday (meal, discussion, & liturgy), and an Episcopal Eucharist each week.  There were also great ecumenical moments in worship:  the celebration of the building purchase, the consecration of the Roman Catholic altar, the celebration when the anti-Trident demonstrators were released from jail to name just three.  In planning this last event, I said to the Archbishop that it was too bad we couldn’t have a Eucharistic service.  He suggested having the service including all the words of institution, but without the bread and wine present.  He said everyone would understand our meaning.

We were dedicated throughout the ministry for the development of inclusive language for all our liturgies and even wrote a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer which was used in common worship.  For six years we held a common Catholic/Protestant liturgy (inclusive in language but with separate stations for the Eucharist), which was a focal point for the ministry, but it could not be sustained– even after months of study of our different traditions.  Students were pained by the separation caused by one exclusive rubric or another which we attempted, with occasional exceptions being made so we could come together.  So we took a step back to our original style of worship.

An Afterword

This ministry is now a shadow of its former self. In the late 80’s’s and early 90’s two denominations terminated their membership in CCM.  The Dominican Order faced a Province-wide financial crisis.  The withdrawal was followed by a decision of the Episcopal Bishop to discontinue funding of all chaplaincies in the diocese.  At the very same time, the Roman Catholic Bishop had been under investigation by the Vatican, some of it from questions about inclusive language or other issues at CCM.  The investigation began in 1983 and in 1986 the Pope appointed an auxiliary bishop who was given authority above the present Bishop in five liturgical and administrative functions.  That status lasted about three years.  The two withdrawals and the changes in the Archdiocese were devastating financially and ecumenically.  I know little about the details of the present campus ministry at the University other than it is once again going through change.  The Lutherans are purchasing Covenant House and the Dominicans have established an independent ministry.  There is a one Methodist staff member operating out of a Wesley facility.  The one UMHE staff is operating out of donated space at University Congregational Church.

Corita Kent in her book Footnotes and Headline, A play-pray book, which was written just about the time of our early conversations about ministry, affirms the need to celebrate together and to recite our history, our stories, our crises and successes.  To paraphrase her:  If we are unable to express or remember together whence we’ve come, we will do the opposite of remembering.  We will dismember and dissolve in confusion.

Those who were around at the beginning are no longer around to recite the history and the covenants and promises made. The denominational staff, executives and bishops have gone in a passing parade.  The clergy in the district have moved on or retired.  A significant number of those committed to the ministry have died.  Of staff who served in the first ten years of CCM, at least six are now deceased;  others are spread coast to coast.  But we celebrate the growth of the seeds planted in fertile soil over the years.

Since CCM I worked with a national non-profit organization and became the Regional Director for Joint Action in Community Service or JACS which partnered with the Dept. of Labor, Job Corps to provide volunteers to mentor the students returning home after leaving a Job Corps Center. JACS also had counselors on Job Corps Centers, so I traveled Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska to recruit individual, churches and agencies to follow students coming home. The task was to support students and encourage them in the job search until they found work. I also supervised counselors on eight Job Corps Centers in this Region. I loved the travel. I got to see the whole NW. Most of the work was fun and the salary was much better that campus minister salary.

Marcia and I are living near Olympia, WA in a retirement community on a little lake. By luck we are living next door to Susan and David Morris, friends for fifty years. Susan was a colleague at CCM and I hired David to work with me at JACS. We are enjoying life here very much.


Campus Ministry in the 60’s and 70’s: Context and Observations by Howard Daughenbaugh



Campus Ministry in the 60’s and 70’s: Context and Observations

by Howard L. Daughenbaugh


Between July 1958 and July 1973, I was a United Methodist campus minister at Tulane University in New Orleans for eleven years and the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign for four years, so I want to offer some comments on  the dynamics of this important era in our history, along with observations about what we might have learned that can be useful today.

I begin by referring to an article, “My Hometown,” by Martin Marty, which was published in The Christian Century.  “With George Santayana I believe that one needs a locus standi, a place to stand to view the world.  Santayana had two:  the Spain of his childhood and the Harvard of his later years.  My places are Nebraska and Chicago.”  For me those two places are actually three.  They are Lake Charles, Louisiana; New Orleans, Louisiana; and central Illinois.

My wife Judy and I grew up in Lake Charles. In the days of our youth, it was the place where we had a marvelous educational and social experience.  The educational experience was unique because it was a city-operated system provided by a community of some 50,000 people in the Deep South,  and it was excellent because close to 50 per cent of our class attended college, with the majority completing at least an undergraduate degree.

The social experience in this community of our youth was developed by the high school we attended, the resources of the city, and the creativity of our parents.  It was healthy, taught responsibility, and encouraged a high level of enjoyment. From it we learned how to relate constructively to one another, how to develop leadership skills, and how to be responsible citizens.

If you think I’m painting an entirely too idyllic picture of this place of our youth, you are probably correct.  It did have its seamier side.  Racially it was a thoroughly segregated community. Religiously it was dominated by white, mainline Protestants which left little room for folks from other religious persuasions. However, there were several independent Christian congregations, a rather large contingent of Roman Catholics, and a Jewish congregation in the community.  Economically it became dominated by the petrochemical industry, so its environmental record left something to be desired.  Nevertheless, it remains as a “place to stand to view the world.” We often measure what we see in this world today, both the realities that need to be changed and those that need to be preserved, by what we experienced in that place of our youth.

My second “place to stand to view the world” is New Orleans, Louisiana.  I would risk the observation that New Orleans is to Louisiana and the world what San Francisco is to California and the world and what New York City is to New York and the world.  These cities cannot be confined nor defined by the states in which they are located. In large measure New Orleans is defined by Latin American culture in the same manner as San Francisco is defined by Asian culture and New York City by European culture.  These are, indeed,American cities but also they are international cities.

In June, 1958 we moved from Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas to Tulane University in New Orleans.  I had entered seminary in 1955 not knowing whether or not ordained ministry was the vocation God intended for me.  I graduated in 1958 with some certainty about ordained ministry, but I was unclear as to what expression of it I should pursue.  One day during my senior year I was walking by a large bulletin board in the seminary’s administration building and saw an announcement about a chaplaincy opening at a church related college. Intrigued I continued my journey straight down the hall into the seminary dean’s office.  As luck would have it, he had some time to give to a confused senior.

Merrimon Cuninggim was this gentleman scholar’s name. Some of you may recognize him as having served as the Executive Director of the Danforth Foundation following his tenure as Dean of Perkins School of Theology, and my district superintendent asked whether I would be interested in being the United Methodist campus minister at Tulane University. Subsequently the bishop appointed me to the Tulane Wesley Foundation effective July 1, 1958.

You might recall that in 1958 the Civil Rights movement was gaining a head of steam. Our society was beginning to move from quiet social conformity into a time when the centrifugal forces began to overwhelm the centripetal forces.  All of the component parts of our ordered society came under intense scrutiny.  It began with the Brown versus Board of Education decision which produced Little Rock.  It continued with the launching of Sputnik, and it shifted into high gear with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, and Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, spoke, sang, and inspired us to face the injustices of a conforming society where a hierarchy of accepted values was suddenly and substantially challenged. As we recited “On the Road” with Kerouac, sang “The Times They Are a Changin’” with Dylan, and read King’s “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail;” it began to dawn on us that we were witnessing some significant alterations to the fabric of our society.  According to these prophets in our midst, it was no longer acceptable for the economic franchised to control the economic disenfranchised, for women to be subservient to men, for blacks to be obedient to whites.

Though these disruptions of the established norms occurred throughout our society, there was a sense in which they were focused on the higher education community. It was in that community where the opportunity to question and challenge existed as an essential ingredient to its enterprise.  It was also understood that the formation which occurred in a person’s life during those higher education years would have a direct bearing and substantial influence on her/his adult life and the society of tomorrow.

The academic community was seen as the place of greatest flexibility, freedom, and focus on the future. It was thought that the seeds of a society characterized by greater justice would have their best chance of taking root in our colleges and universities. Yet no one seemed to be able to forecast the turmoil that this vision for higher education would create within the academy.

In such an atmosphere in loco parentis was no longer applicable.  Students began to understand themselves as contributors to, not just receivers of, the educational enterprise.  They wanted greater influence in the curriculum and greater governing authority on the campus.  They thought house mothers were anachronisms and dorm hours incredulous.  It wasn’t long before the economic and civil rights revolutions were joined by the sexual and educational revolutions.

The educational enterprise began to question itself. Would the university continue to follow the traditional academic model or would it, in the vision of Clark Kerr, President of the University of California system, and Thomas Jefferson before him as he planned his beloved University of Virginia, become a collection of residential colleges fostering a sense of academic community between students and faculty?  Would it be a research community, a teaching community, or both?  Would it concentrate on specialized departmental education providing skills to be employed in careers or would it provide an education experience designed to create a purposeful and meaningful life or would it seek to offer both?  To be sure these questions were really not new to higher education.  However, they contained urgency about them in the 1960s and the early 1970s.

So the rather quiet decade of the fifties came to a close. Of course, the fifties had not been all that quiet.  There had been warning signs of what was to come.  If we had possessed the necessary eyes to see, and naturally some did, the Brown versus Board of Education decision would have alerted us to the Civil Rights Movement, Sputnik would have revealed to us the possibility of a technological revolution and a space race, and President Eisenhower’s farewell warning of the growing military/industrial complex would have signaled the economic challenges ahead of us.

Although no one was quite ready for what was to come, very few of us saw the new decade as a foreboding time. We did not dread its arrival. Even with the growing racial turmoil in our society, changing student and faculty expectations in our colleges and universities, a Cold War that was especially hot at the time, and the discussions surrounding the role and purpose of higher education, the sixties dawned with a great sense of hope and with the eager expectation of exploring new horizons in space and elsewhere.

As the decade opened, there arose on the scene a young Roman Catholic politician who eventually became the symbol for the hope and promise of the decade. At the same time there was a book published by a young Harvard Divinity School theologian by the name of Harvey Cox.  The title of his book was The Secular City. In it he proclaimed that there were no longer any unsolvable problems– only unsolved problems.  Today we see such observations as naïve.  Then it was the expression of a “can do” generation.

On our national scene that young President from Massachusetts reflected the optimism and commitment of a generation. John Fitzgerald Kennedy described that generation as “tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace,…and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of…human rights.”  On the international stage, a Scandinavian visionary served as General Secretary of the United Nations.  Dag Hammarskjold talked movingly about cooperation, not conflict, between the nations of the world.  On the religious front a short, rotund Pope, elected almost as an afterthought, gave voice to an ecumenical spirit.  This spirit, according to John XXIII, assured us of respect, even reconciliation, between the various expressions of the Christian faith as well as openness towards Jews, Muslims, and people of other religious persuasions.  He reformed, nay, he revolutionized the church.

Indeed the decade began with abounding hope, falling boundaries, and limitless possibilities. At least it seemed that way at first.

In the midst of this idealistic climate campus ministry realized its task could no longer be nor did it want to be defined as a youth ministry of recreation and fellowship for young adults. If it was to be true to its faith, campus ministry had to offer opportunities for students to wrestle with the economical, social, and educational issues emerging at breakneck speed in the society.  It had to engage the university in conversation about the purpose and style of education necessary in the changing society.  It had to provide religious education for students struggling to relate their faith to a society where the ethical issues associated with the exercise of power and the pursuit of justice were paramount. It was a heady, energizing time to be alive.

There was this feeling in the early years of the decade that we were engaged in a truly important enterprise where significant affirming differences could be made in the lives of people, the university, and the church. The very title by which we were known changed.  For example, I was no longer known as the student minister on campus or as the Wesley Foundation Director or as the United Methodist Chaplain.  I was now the Wesley Foundation Campus Minister or the United Methodist Campus Minister.

This change was significant in private, non-sectarian and public higher education, because it declared that we were no longer compartmentalized in a segment of the university community. In some cases, probably most, our linkage to the university remained through the dean of students or the vice-president of student affairs.  In some cases, we were given direct access to the provost or the president.  In virtually all cases we became integral participants in most phases of the university’s life.  Our relationships with the faculty and the administration were as important as those with the students.

The change was equally significant in the life of the church. Until the 1960s most campus clergy were not clergy at all; they were lay persons licensed as directors of Christian education.  Before the decade was half over the directors of Christian education were replaced by fully ordained clergy many with advanced degrees or post-graduate study under their belts.

What was not fully anticipated in both the university and the church was the profound alteration this made in our roles in each of these communities. We now engaged in serious conversations about the educational, theological, and ethical questions surfacing in face of the many issues arising in the society.  We were seen as members of the university community as a whole. In the church we were identified as an authentic specialized ministry with a clear mission.   With our emphasis on questions of ethics we bridged different academic disciplines.  With one foot in the society, another other foot in the church, our bodies immersed in the university, and our minds and spirits committed to all three we were able to communicate with all three in a manner quite unlike other vocations.

Some of the results of these changes were not comfortable for us nor for those with whom we worked and conversed. In the university the questions we raised about the educational process were not always appreciated.  The activities in which we engaged, primarily those related to civil rights and later the Viet Nam War, brought discomfort to the status quo in both the university and the church. In the church we were thought to have developed a prophetic edge to the detriment of what was thought to be primarily a pastoral vocation.

Still, the advantages of this change in our role within the university and the church far outweighed the disadvantages. We were discovering realities of fundamental importance to our lives in our society, the university, and the church.  It was a time of renewal and re-creation.  There was energy, purposefulness, and hope about who we were and what we were doing.

Late in 1963 all this began to change. The decade had hardly begun.  There was the assassination of the president on the streets of Dallas, Texas.  The United Nations’ General Secretary was killed in an airplane crash in Africa.  The life of the Pope in Rome ended just as the reforms of Vatican II were beginning to take root.  In 1965 Viet Nam began to explode onto the world stage.  Early in 1968 that young African American leader who spoke to us about a dream and taught us about non-violence in face of monumental oppression was cut down. A few months later another young Kennedy, an even more energetic and articulate presidential candidate, had his life snuffed out just as he was beginning to restore our hope and awaken our conscience to the plight of the poor in our midst and the possibilities for peace in the Far East.

It was said by one, “We will never laugh again.” The reply by another was, “Oh, we will laugh again.  But, will we ever hope again?”  A decade that began with hope, commitment to the ideals of our nation, and a concentration on the needs of our less fortunate neighbors ended in despair, anger, and self-centeredness.

Nevertheless, New Orleans and Tulane University became my second “place to stand to view the world.” It was a view filled with eagerness, anticipation, triumph, and hope tempered by tragedy, despair, and doubt. My life changed.  My vocation changed.  My faith changed.  I believe all three matured as a result of standing and viewing the world from New Orleans and Tulane University.  But the time had come to move on, and move on we did—big time.  We left behind Lake Charles, New Orleans, and Tulane for the unknownpossibilities of living in the prairie land of central Illinois.

All of my great grandparents and grandparents were from Illinois, so coming to Urbana, Champaign and the University of Illinois was something of a homecoming for me. One of my great grandfathers had been aMethodist pastor in southern Illinois. Another great grandfather served in Grant’s Army that secured Vicksburg, Mississippi and Mobile Bay, Alabama.  Among all the Civil War veterans buried in a cemetery in a small southwestern Louisiana community his tombstone is the only one which bears the marking, “Grand Army of the Republic.”

Not many weeks into my responsibilities as the executive director of an ecumenical campus ministry related to the University, we attended worship at Wesley United Methodist Church in Urbana. That morning the Associate Pastor of the congregation and the Associate Campus Minister for the Wesley Foundation introduced us to three Nobel Prize winners.  I knew, then, we had moved into a different world.  I had this strange sensation of truly being in over my head. Besides “I am honored to meet you” what else do you say to three Nobel Prize winners?  Words like “Wow” and “uh, uh, uh” came to mind, but I didn’t think they were appropriate.  I began to realize that we had moved to my third “place to stand to view the world.”

While in New Orleans and at Tulane, the Civil Rights Movement and the changing environment in higher education and the church defined our view of the world. In Urbana/Champaign and at the University of Illinois, the Viet Nam War and its impact on life in the university and the church defined our view of the world.

The issues of war and peace, not to mention the birth of a broadened environmental movement, formed the context in which the university exercised its responsibility in the educational enterprise, and the church gave witness to its faith at work in the society. The Civil Rights Movement and poverty were still key players on the stage, but they were now matched by concerns for the environment and the trauma of Viet Nam.

It was here that the disarray we had begun to experience in our last years in Louisiana gained momentum. Students who once had thought there were no boundaries to their futures now began to feel betrayed by a stagnant economy, by a government which had been so promising and now was a part of the problem, and by what they thought was an endless, aimless war.  University faculty experienced division in their ranks over the role social, political, and peace issues ought to play in the academy.  Tensions arose between faculty and administrators, because one was perceived as too closely allied with the status quo and theother as desiring an academy too far removed from reality. Campus ministers found themselves separated from the denominations that supported them, and those who didn’t experience such separation were, quite often, criticized by their colleagues.

All of this is grossly oversimplified; but I do believe it is fair to say that vision was lost and survival became the motivator in the church, campus ministry, and the academy.  As a result, distrust anddisillusionment with social and political institutions, including the university and the church, grew at warp speed. Robert Bellah and his colleagues in their classic study Habits of the Heart documented the collapse of community responsibility in favor of individual rights.  Entitlement became the operative goal.  A decade which began with such promise ended in the throes of trauma.  Preservation became more important than transformation.

As I conclude I would like to offer a few observations from these “places where I’ve stood to view the world.” I claim no particular uniqueness about them.  Others far more articulate than I have spoken about them.  Still, these gleanings from the sixties may have some relevance to us today.

First, we can remember that our best choices are seldom either/or.  More often they are both/and choices. As a matter of fact, it is the tension existing with the both/and that most often produces creative results.  As Robert Bellah would have us remember, we live as individuals in community.  Once we emphasize the one to the detriment of the other we start down the slippery slope of narcissism, on the one hand, and dominating control, even totalitarianism, on the other.

Beginning about 1965 we forgot what we had learned in the first half of the decade, namely that we shared responsibility for the well being of our communities, nation, and world. Our enemies did not evaporate, but we had learned how, for the most part, to contain them, even isolate them. This was done by addressing the legitimate concerns and grievances of most people with whom we shared life.

Following the assassinations and confronted with the ever expanding war in Viet Nam despair rather than hope became dominant among us. We turned inward and began to lose our focus on the shared responsibilities we had in our communities, nation, and world. As we stared into our mirrors seeing only our personal pain, we lost sight of our neighbors. The word entitlement was substituted for responsibility. Becoming focused primarily on what is good for me instead of upon what is good for us led to a concentration upon the accumulation of power rather than the pursuit of justice, though it is clear that justice cannot be attained in a given situation without the power to achieve it.  Much depends, however, upon our focus.  Is it on the power we want to accumulate or is it on the justice we need to pursue?

My second observation from the places where I have stood to view the world is one that I do not like to hear myself say, and it is probably entirely too cynical.  Nevertheless, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that there may be something about us that can tolerate only so much hope.  A cursory look at history seems to reveal that we, as societies, have not treated the conveyors of hope very kindly.

Fortunately, however, there have been those persons who have taken the challenge to repeatedly reintroduce the creative potential of hope into our lives. It is very encouraging to note that those who have been the most creative in their expression of hope gain our attention. So, it would seem that even as we are unable to live with them we know we cannot live without them.

As a result, this observation from the “place(s) where I have stood to view the world” leads me to conclude that we may now be entering another era where a focus on our neighbors, particularly our neighbors in need, is receiving greater attention. Perhaps, we may be realizing that we need to turn from an era of entitlement to a time of responsibility.  We may have begun to see that the exercise of self-centered power is, in the final analysis, self-defeating.  It may also be that we are beginning, once agai,n to ask the questions of justice for those among us who need it the most.  On that note of hope I’ll conclude.

This paper was originally prepared for the College Alumni Club at Illinois Wesleyan University.