What’s new at SU: September 2018
September 11, 2018 / By Rhonda Chester, United Methodist Ecumenical Chaplain. Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University
It’s the beginning of my third year as the United Methodist Ecumenical Campus Ministry chaplain here at Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University campus and I am reflecting on the meaningful ministry opportunities that I have had with so many students. Recently, I got the opportunity to be a part of the welcoming committees and watched with glee as we kicked off the Fall 2018 semester with 5,000 new incoming students, 800 of whom are from different countries around the world.
Whether I am leading a worship service, having communion in our small groups gathering; facilitating a class; watching an SU basketball game with a group of students; providing grief counseling for a member of faculty who has lost her husband; sharing a meal with students, faculty, and staff; and being present during times of great joy or distress; I have this beautiful opportunity to journey with others.
It is life-giving to experience the students throughout their educational pursuits and watch them evolve from bright-eyed bushy tailed freshmen/women to serious seniors whose goal is to transform the world. It is amazing to hear the stories of faith and resilience that they employ while on the journey. Many of the students I interact with are international students and to hear their stories of crossing cultures and experiencing new things while living in America, makes me realize how much alike we are, no matter who we are or where we come from.
For example, I had the opportunity to host two Fulbright Scholars in my home over the summer as a way of introducing them to American culture as well as facilitating conversation around our shared values. Sergei, a student from Russia and Carolina from Colombia both shared how they plan to transform the world and how coming to University here in the USA is going to be a vital part of their ability to engage in the transformational process.
“I want to improve, motivate, and engage students to live meaningful lives through gamification in education. If they can have meaningful lives in the classroom, then all other aspects of their lives can be meaningful as well,” says Carolina.
“It is so important to take care of the earth,” says Sergei, whose focus during his studies here in the USA will be on eliminating pollution caused by vehicles. “We need to breathe clean air so that we can live healthy lives and since breath is so essential to our lives, then clean air is as important to our quality of life.”
When I think about our mission as the people called Methodists, I can see how when we choose to connect with each other through our common humanity, we all can be on a mission to positively transform the world. Does that not sound familiar? Does it not sound like a way to please God?
Throughout Scripture we are inspired by the positive words and transformational experiences of those who dared to seek the kind of transformation that brought about the renewing of minds as well as to take up the challenge to engage in positive transformational experiences. I get to do that as the United Methodist Chaplain here on SU campus and for these graces, I am eternally grateful. Amen.