James’ Jots: A Bit of a Snapshot...
Many pastors in the Yearly Meeting serve on various Yearly Meeting committees, and frankly, I was trying to escape from Yearly Meeting last year without joining any of them. At Yearly Meeting, however, I found out that along with accepting this call I inherited a de facto membership on William Penn’s campus ministry committee. Historically the pastor of College Avenue Friends seems to always have played some sort of role in campus ministry, and I am very comfortable with this as it lines up perfectly with the call God has long placed on my heart. In fact the very reason I wanted to avoid joining a committee was because I wanted to deepen my roots to Oskaloosa Iowa, the people of our community, and of course, to William Penn University. As many of you know, with the cutting of Spencer’s position and the restructuring of the campus ministry committee, people are asking new questions about how the campus ministry program at Penn will continue. Various committee members have taken up certain aspects of campus ministry. Scott Biddle will be involved in various ways. Tom Palmer will continue his work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). I felt the Lord put on my heart that I should get involved with coordinating chapel, and Bailey Hupp has been indispensable in helping me learn the ropes of how this is to work.
While on my trip to Oregon, a young woman named Beth from the William Penn Chronicle sought me out to ask what is happening with campus ministry at Penn. Though she will likely pull a few things here and there from what I wrote as she was intending to create her own article, as I reflected on what I wrote for her I couldn’t help but include it in full for my newsletter. Beth’s last question on behalf of the students may well be the question many of us at College Avenue Friends are also wondering about. It seemed fitting that after many meetings and a bit of experience now connecting with students at chapel so far that some kind of update was in order. Beth’s questions helped me put into words a bit about what has happened, what is happening, and perhaps a little bit about what God has in store for campus ministry in the future. These were her questions to me and my responses to them are included below:
1.) What position do you hold within the church?
I am the pastor of the church, however I prefer the title released minister. This title fits better with the Quaker idea of the priesthood of all believers in which everyone has a call to ministry and can serve God in whatever vocation they inhabit. Basically it means I am a minister among ministers…
2.) How do you feel about the termination of the campus minister position, and what direction do you think they will take now that there is no one officially in charge?
I have mixed feelings about the termination of the campus minister position. I consider Spencer to be a close friend and a co-laborer in the work of ministry. On the one hand I feel that Spencer was very effective in one on one connections with students, and his ministry will be sorely missed. He really invested in the lives of students and in the building up of leaders. I also think he took the school’s mission statement seriously regarding the pursuit of excellence, yet he marched to the beat of a different drum and was seeking that excellence in ways that are not easily quantified or understood. On the other hand, not having one person “in charge” and decentralizing the work of ministry resonates with the Quaker understanding of how ministry should be a shared burden. Many people were understandably upset by the decision, fearing it would eventually lead to the demise of all effective ministry at Penn. There is a danger that this sentiment could in fact turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy as hurt feelings replace actual engagement, but I see this not as a step toward “the end” but a step toward a new beginning. There is a great deal of opportunity here to reimagine what campus ministry could look like here at Penn. While a volunteer-led model does lack a bit in efficiency (though not necessarily effectiveness) it really opens up ways for people to get involved, to share together in the work of ministry, and strengthen the historic relationships between WPU and Iowa Yearly Meeting, and of course, College Avenue Friends Church.
It was once common knowledge that College Avenue Friends Church was called into being to serve as a light to William Penn University. Before the days of car travel, Quaker students of old wrote a letter to the Yearly Meeting and to a few country churches asking them to consolidate and build a church near the college so that the students would have a sorely needed place of worship. These students sparked a real change with their request, resulting in the birth of our church. Unfortunately a few short years after the church building was built, the college had a tragic fire which resulted in the death of a faculty member and student who attempted to salvage the academic records inside, only to have the bell tower collapse upon them. When the college rebuilt after this tragedy at its current location, I think the role of College Avenue Friends as a place of student worship was eventually overshadowed by Spencer Chapel. Time and other factors have led to a long stretch of growing apart and a weakening of the vision originally cast by WPU students of a place to worship God they could call home.
If nothing else, the cutting of the campus minister position has pushed us toward reflecting on the relationship between WPU, Iowa Yearly Meeting, and College Avenue Friends Church. I believe that the desire to rebuild these historic relationships is a divine appointment. Our church had a meeting to discern God’s leading for us in light of the university cabinet’s decision and it seemed clear God was calling us to step out in faith, and in a spirit of love and humility, seek to strengthen our historic role as a light to WPU, impacting its students, faculty, and destiny as God leads. The spirit of unity at that meeting was palpable, and there was a real sense that we should “take the ball and run with it,” making the most of this new opportunity, and rising to face this challenge with the grace and humility it deserves.
Though there is no one person—such as a campus minister—officially and visibly “in charge” at present, that does not mean no one is in charge of campus ministry at Penn. I am a part of the newly restructured Campus Ministry Committee, a group of wonderful folks honestly trying to go forward in this new direction and help make it work. While some are still wounded by the decision itself, we recognize the importance of serving the spiritual needs of the Penn community. This work has always been larger than one person, and as I mentioned earlier this is opening up new opportunities for service. The piece of this I am taking up is the role of chapel coordinator, something I am very excited about. It is a great way to connect to students, though of course many students have to rush off immediately afterward for class. At chapel we are striving to embrace a sense of hospitality, regularly sharing a home cooked meal together as the early church often did. We are shooting for a more interactive approach, seeking ways to grow in depth and authenticity through table fellowship, discussion, and challenging one another to grow and serve in tangible ways.
Many ministries at Penn such as FCA, Intervarsity, sports devotions, and student led bible studies are largely autonomous, free standing entities. It is exciting to see Team Christ—a newly formed student led group—grow and thrive, reaching out to the Penn community in Jesus’ name. The biggest struggle involved in not having a campus minister is that communication and coordination of all these wonderful student led ministries is a real challenge. Good things come from cooperation and collaboration, and this is harder to do without one person acting as a point of connection. The committee is seeking some graduate assistants to take on the role of Spiritual Life Coordinator, connecting and communicating the work of ministry on campus, as well as investing in Religious Life Scholarship students and being available to minister to students, faculty, or staff. A job description has been created and the committee is beginning to promote the position and seek those whom God is leading to serve in this way.
It is hard to see a great deal of fruit presently stemming from the work of our committee. I for one am still learning the context of my small corner of campus ministry involvement and as of yet ways of gauging effectiveness seem elusive. Yet there are real signs of hope on the horizon. The opportunities present in this new work are something of a new testing ground, calling for creativity and collaboration between students, volunteers, and of course, faculty and staff. So many of the seeds we have been sowing will not sprout until next year and beyond, but the framework we have been working on will hopefully serve the spiritual life of WPU for years to come. I for one am excited about what God is up to and bringing forth in this new adventure.
Released Minister of College Avenue Friends Church and Chapel Coordinator of WPU
The Community Good Friday service will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Central United Methodist Church. The choir would like to host singers from community churches for a couple of anthems under the direction of Quinton Tschetter. Singing IN PILOTS HALL and SEE HOW HE DIES. Anyone needing a copy of the music should contact Quinton (641-660-9745 or firstname.lastname@example.org). The plan is to meet an hour before the service for rehearsal.
Easter Lily Orders
Pat Brainard will be taking orders for Easter lilies until Tuesday, March 17. The cost per each lily plant is $13.38 (this includes tax). Pat will be ordering from Stam Greenhouse. There will be forms in the narthex for ordering. Payment is due at the time of ordering ~ checks should be made payable to Stam Greenhouse. There will be an insert in the Easter Sunday bulletin listing who purchased the lilies and who the lilies are in memory or honor of. Stam Greenhouse will be delivering the lilies to CAF.
Community Garden Update
The Peace & Social Concerns Ministry Team's update on its two year involvement with the Penn Community Garden project begins with THANKS for all the support from College Avenue Friends. Spencer Thury secured and worked with two excellent Penn Student Interns, Bailey Hupp and Holly Groom, who were Garden Managers over the summer months. William Penn University furnished the plot, compensated the Student Interns for their Work-Study hours over the summers, and furnished water and hose needed for the garden. In the first year, when the call went out that help was needed to harvest the food, many CAFers responded. By the end of the season, several pick-up loads of boxed vegetables grown in the garden were delivered to the Senior Citizens Center, and received with great appreciation.
The second year, Haleh Everett Weaver, an experienced truck gardener living on a family farm north of Oskaloosa, heard about the garden through Cadwalladers and volunteered to lead us through ordering seeds in bulk, which was a great savings. Haleh also volunteered to start all the plants in her home greenhouse and deliver them to the garden when we were ready for them. Spencer's contact with Rene Visser, from First Christian Reformed Church in Oskaloosa and a specialist with herbs, resulted in her advising us in ordering herb seeds, which Haleh started, and both Haleh and Rene donated perennials from their yards. Eves' special garlic cloves found their way into the soil in the Fall, and the project was beginning to feel like a real "community" garden!
The $200 CAF budgeted was used for seeds and needed fertilizer. Chuck Watson was involved in small machine work in the garden, Jeff Robbins was on call and did the larger machine clearing of the plot at the end of the 2nd year. Scott Biddle, and Mike Rucinski had their turns with tillers, Spencer and a small crew handled emergencies such as the hasty covering of plants during a late frost, plus many others from our church including James Tower, Erma Coppinger, etc., etc. . . MANY Friends were to be thanked for their help in the garden.
Spencer's vision for the garden was that the work would be done by the "community of people" including Penn students who, having worked, could have a share of the crop, but the abundance would be given away, free to those in need, in our case, to the Senior Center at former Grant School. In reality, it seemed the needed steady flow of workers in the garden dwindled soon after the seeds and plants were in the ground. In general, come mid-May when gardens (and weeds) begin to flourish, college students vanished for the summer. Spencer developed an extensive email list of people thought to be interested, based upon the previous year, and Holly sent many notices when "work days" were needed, but response was poor. Though there were ample rains, the cool days moved into sultry heat. Our lives were full and we were limited in a number of ways, one being how many things we were able to commit to.
After two years of experience and learning from the garden project, fortunately, while our Ministry Team was wrestling with the issues, we learned that a new development in community gardening was in discussion. Three from our Team attended several brainstorming meetings, along with Holly Groom. Holly brought many skills to the table during her management of the garden in its second year, and fortunately, she generously volunteered her time to assist in the transition to the new plan, which then relieved CAF from direct responsibility.
The garden has now become part of the Blue Zones energy pool in Oskaloosa, and will be overseen by the Alumni Office at William Penn who are in charge of community events at large. Those of us who subscribe to the Oskaloosa Herald may be familiar with recent information of four garden plots planned within the city, the New Hope Garden located in the southwest sector in their 6th year this Spring, and Penn Garden in its 3rd year, plus two others.
For a small fee, a family may choose a plot and be responsible for it throughout the gardening season. Details will be in print soon for all wanting information about the total plan. In brief, it is our hope that interest in gardening will increase as families take pride in their "return to the soil" and that they will grow fresh food for their tables and have more healthy diets. With guidance from the Iowa State Extension Service, Mahaska County Office through beginning gardening lessons soon to be available, and many entities in our community working together, perhaps we will all become better Stewards of our very lives.
The Penn garden is ideally located on North E Street near the south edge of Penn property, with off-the-street parking for vehicles. It is set back from the street and surrounded by spacious, well-kept lawns that provide play space for young children under the watchful eye of parents as they work. This Spring you will see a handsome sign erected at the site, which is part of the benefit of joining the cooperative city-wide encouragement of Gardening.
Finally, may we take a 30-second "look Back?" It's interesting that in the 1960's when the Bowman's came to William Penn College, there was a "Penn Pond and Gardens" area located on then College land north of the present Oskaloosa Senior High School, and Allen was one of several Penn Professors who were avid gardeners there!
Is the new interest in gardening today one small step toward living more healthy and happy? Join the ranks! Reserve a plot in Penn Community Garden to add healthful gardening to your exercise regimen. The air is fresh, the sun warm, and the rains fall soft there!
“The C.A.F.eteria Line”
By Iola Cadwallader
What a great Winter we're having! Nothing's been done half-way-- when its cold it's REALLY cold. When the deck is icy, it's 1" thick and there's no question about whether to wear cleats or stay in all day! And the wind? There's no wind chill anyplace that's more chilly than in Iowa! But it strengthens our fortitude. We know we could spend hundreds of $$$ traveling to the Arctic Circle to have our fortitude strengthened, but save your money. Just bundle up and go out and face it! It's Iowa! And funny thing . . . we forgive it, when the next day is still, there's a brilliant blue sky full of sunshine and the thermometer outside reads a warm 40 degrees!
Super Bowl Party was exactly as predicted: "SUPER GREAT!" Thanks, Pat, for all the ways you saw to it that EVERYBODY had fun-- no small task when the age-range is delightfully wide! (Now, let's not talk about the weather again; however, "it" came up against a band of hardy Quakers that night!) The amazing news is that around 30 brave souls defied all efforts the weather made to keep them at home! Hoorah! Three Cheers for the Thriving Thirty!
But what's your guess? Has anyone out there realized that when we pass March 1st, in just 4 Sundays it will be Palm Sunday? And that means Easter next, and S-P-R-I-N-G next! Remember, it's never too early to think Crocus & Tulips!
Have you watched the tracks in the snow toward the Free Little Library in the Park? Our church neighborhood people appreciate picnic tables in the summer shade, but winter continues to bring them to the Park for a book or two from the Free Little Library. When Deb checks the FLL each Sunday she finds lots of adult footprints these days, not too many kids', but she says "Wait 'til Spring and Summer-- that's when the kids come!" And would you believe it? James put a barcode on the window so people with Smartphones can scan and it will take them to the CAF Website! Will wonders never cease? Greatest thing of all is the Little Library has proved to be rain, snow, wind and moisture proof! Thanks, Mike Moyer, for seeing to that from the beginning!
Are we remembering that ALL OF US CAN CONTRIBUTE BOOKS to the FLL? We can either hand them to Deb if we want the CAF label on them or simply put them inside the door of the Little Library. If it's full of books, we can save ours for next time we're driving by. We need to supply all kinds of books for all ages, and good magazines are fine too, such as National Geographic. And if you want to learn more about the growth of this great idea for communities across the country, just go to the Free Little Library Website.
How many of us followed up on last month's suggestion that we take a peek at the clean church kitchen, including the stove? The historic headline this month is "CAF Women Share Kitchen With CAF Quaker Men!" Did you know Quaker Men are cooking their own breakfasts one Saturday morning a month now? It's a new tradition that's great fun for the guys! There's some sort of unwritten rule now that the used & washed kitchen equipment must be put back where it was found. Of course, the men ask, "Why does this measuring cup need to go over there when it fits here?" Okay, we'll leave it at that, but treat yourself to a laugh and ask Deb about the Measuring Cup Mystery she had to solve at her house recently! FYI, Mike R. makes Hot Biscuits and Gravy to wake up early for, while Mike M. offers stiff competition with his Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs & Bacon, part or all of the above on a given Saturday morning. Who else dons their Quaker Men's Chef's Hat? Don’t be shy . . .
Hopefully it's never too late to say "Welcome" to Katy Palmer who worships at CAF and has also favored us with her lovely singing voice on occasion. We hear she recently travelled to Dallas, Texas where she attended "Catalyst," a well-known Christian Leadership Conference for "next-generation leaders in the church and beyond." This is Katy's fourth time to attend and, as usual, she heard speakers from a wide scope of career leadership-- a Neuroscientist, an Economist, an Officer in the Salvation Army, a Pastor and others whose vision is to re-shape our culture in positive ways through Christian values put into practice daily in all walks of life. We applaud that vision, Katy, and your part in it. Way to go!
And Martha-Faye Circle got to hear this month that Jan Palmer is about to embark upon her first trip to Belize! She's traveling with Tom, a 3rd time visit for him, and Ann Nichols of Iowa Yearly Meeting. All three are looking forward to seeing and having conversations with Dale Graves, who is Friends United Meeting's appointee to study all aspects and potentials of the Belize Mission. Jan, in particular, has a desire to visit informally with some of the students in the school, and get a sense of the community and dynamics of the area surrounding the school. As we know Jan, in general she'll have her eyes wide open the whole time as she is quietly present there. It will be surprising if Tom doesn't comprise a "work team" all by himself, if he sees something that needs repair. Let's lend prayer support for these three in this venture.
If you missed the trial run The Cooking Club gave us, just for “practice” on the upcoming Potato Bar, you missed a great meal. Instead of bringing “covered dishes” Monthly Meeting cooks came with dollar donations to defray the cost, and the result was resounding approval of the big upcoming Potato Bar event for the community. As you know, it’s a benefit for the 2016 International USFW Triennial that Iowa Friends Women are hosting. Those classy street-signs advertising the Soup Supper last Fall will appear before long with POTATO BAR in big letters! Give all your relatives and friends an “Upfront” to save the date, 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17. Oh, and remember to sign up to help! (You DO remember how the women help the men with Soup Supper? “Turn about, Fair Play?” Thanks, Guys!)
Until next month, stay well and keep smiling!