backpackers

Spring Semester College Ministry Stories!

This morning, I woke up to a world blanketed in snow. There is something about snow that slows everything down, causes a sense of wonder, and invites stillness. This is a stillness that I am treasuring and welcoming after a semester that has flown by before my eyes. As I reflect on the semester thus far, my heart is filled with so much love for students and gratitude to serve at Eastern, Immaculata, and Good Sam on a wonderful team. It's difficult to summarize all that God is doing here, but here's a snapshot of some of the goingings-on with college students at Church of the Good Samaritan. 

Jubilee

Almost the whole crew at Jubilee!

In mid-February, Ben and I took a group of students from Eastern and Immaculata to Pittsburgh for the CCO's annual Jubilee Conference. The main stage and breakout sessions were the catalyst for many conversations with students about the implications of the gospel in the whole of life. Here are a couple student's reflections after the weekend: 

"Jubilee brought of lot interesting thoughts to my mind. I enjoyed being challenged to embrace the world and bring restoration to it as it is. More than that, I especially appreciated the time to sit in the fallenness of the world. Sitting and feeling the weight of hurt of the world reminded me of the practice of advent, sitting amongst hope and lament. Sometimes it is easy to seclude the hurt to yourself or do the opposite and say that hurt only exists very far away. But observing the fall in all of its ways- with God, with each other, and with creation and the ability to create- is a reminder that the fall as brought disorders to everyone, all the time, and everywhere. Hearing about God's redeeming sacrifice of Christ, after recognizing this hurt, was like rediscovering grace all over again."

Silly Students!

"One of the things that I most appreciated about attending Jubilee was getting to see all of the things that I am learning in school come together in light of the Biblical narrative. So many of the different speakers touched on things that I have been learning in each of my classes. Before, it was easy for my classes to seem disconnected from one another and from my career goals. Getting to hear about all of the different themes coming together helped me make connections... I was able to refocus on what is truly important and view my life in light of God's story.”


It's truly a privilege walk to journey with these thoughtful, engaging students as they strive to live a life of faith. Would you pray that conversations at Jubilee would continue to be catalysts for deeper knowledge and love of God in students' lives? 
 

Spring Break Pilgrimage

 

Back Country Cooking Lesson

The week after Jubilee. four students, Ben, Sam (another CCO staff), and I embarked on a spring pilgrimage. As we journeyed, we invited the presence of God into every space we inhabited with a posture of attentiveness, wonder, and longing. We traveled to Virginia, stayed at my childhood home, then started a four day trek on the Appalachian Trail that concluded with an Ash Wednesday service in the wilderness. We continued our journey to Washington D.C. to the National Cathedral's Ash Wednesday service, received hospitality from my roommates' parents, and spent the following day in D.C. being attentive to the ways that God is moving in the city. We had a conversation about God's restorative work in the city with the staff at the Center for Public Justice, were gifted tickets to the African American History Museum, and feasted together Thursday night to conclude our pilgrimage. 

Ash Wednesday

One student reflects, "The spring break backpacking/city trip that I attended with the Good Sam college group was an wonderfully enlightening experience. Trekking with six other spiritually-minded friends, including three wise leaders, helped me to forge strong bonds of companionship and dive deeper into my abilities and need for divine guidance. Periods of quiet and stillness allowed me to hear God's voice. Daily morning reflections helped me to develop a sense for all the life that constantly surrounds me- whether it be trees in a forest, people in a city, or the small microbes that live inside of me. The trip will remain incredibly meaningful to me because it reinforced disciplines of meditation, prayer, and observance that I had allowed to slip away. I am extremely thankful for being able to attend, and maybe I'll be able to next year!"

The group in D.C.!

It was a time of great reflection, rest, laughter, #artsypics, good conversation, and community building. God moved in significant ways in my life and in the lives of the students who were (and are) on this pilgrimage. After all, the pilgrimage did not end with the conclusion of spring break; we are invited to engage all of life with a posture of attentiveness, wonder, and longing. 


Family Dinner

Students have been leading our discussions at our weekly Family Dinner gathering this semester. It has been a joy to see them emerge into leadership and guide us into a deeper questions about what our salvation is for. This is a time I look forward to every week :)  Would you pray that students continue to find a home here? 

Be sure and check out more pictures (below) from this spring! 

May God bless you and keep you, always. 

Kylie

 

In D.C.
The spring break crew in D.C.! 
The fearless instructors
The team of instructors! It's a privilege to serve alongside these fun, thoughtful, Christ-loving people. 
Esther and Kylie
Esther and I on our weekly nature walk. It's always a reminder of the ways that creation is also God's revelation to us.