How you can support Campus Edge Fellowship

Please keep Pastor Brenda and the graduate students and professional community of MSU in your prayers. Graduate school, professional training, and academic life can often be overwhelming: emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. Please pray that the conversations that we have might encourage us and challenge us intellectually and spiritually.

Please also prayerfully consider giving a donation to CEF. As you can see in the pie charts on our support page, individual donations make up a significant part of the support needed. This support then goes primarily towards the studies and events hosted by Campus Edge and the work of her pastor, Brenda. Please do consider supporting Campus Edge with a donation.

– CEF Board

 

Campus Edge and River Terrace Church partner for a book study and luncheon

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Campus Edge Fellowship and River Terrace Church hosted luncheons in October and March for faculty and staff at Michigan State. It was an opportunity for different people working at MSU to connect and thus better be able to support and encourage each other. As River Terrace is located so close to MSU, we have the opportunity to talk about the university’s unique challenges and opportunities related to faith. In October, we looked at Jamie Smith’s book, How (not) to be Secular, where Smith unpacks Charles Taylor’s understanding of our society today as secular (i.e., a society in which it’s no longer normative to believe in God).book2 The conversation in March focused on Jonathan Hill’s book, Emerging Adulthood and Faith. Please let us know if you are interested in joining any of these conversations in the future.

Photos courtesy of Blythe, from River Terrace Church.

Fellowship, support and solidarity

CEF’s mission is to provide fellowship, support and solidarity for the graduate students and professional academics at MSU. The statistics illustrate the challenges faced. Medical students have a 15-30% higher depression rate than average. PhD students, especially in humanities, have a 50% rate of depression; the psychological cost of a PhD is very high. Law students are suffering from a higher level of debt and stress.

These numbers are verified by those who are connected to Campus Edge. Some of those participating have acknowledged how much isolation, depression, anxiety, and more have overwhelmed them on their journey to get their degree. Numerous times veterinary medicine students have brought up the challenge of compassion fatigue and how hard they expect it will be to care for both the animals they love and the people who care for them (sometimes poorly). A professor noted the expectations put on them to mentor and support students, even providing emotional support, yet they do not always receive that same support themselves.

By God’s grace, Campus Edge helps provide a means for people to feel supported in the midst of their challenges, as well as recognize that they are not alone in the journey.

Spring Update from Pastor Brenda

Spring semester has been busy but good. We’ve been trying new things, like re-starting a pub theology group, having folks from RTC join us on a study on origins, and working with RTC to host an MSU faculty and staff lunch. This has created more opportunities for thinking more deeply about faith, especially in the context of the university. We also were more active in organizing social events in the fall, as part of desiring to create more opportunities for fellowship and support.

More than 25 people actively participate in CEF’s studies, plus 15-20 others who attend periodically. We continue to have a significant number of graduate students in the sciences, recently drawing in a couple of new folks in integrative biology and physics. Along with the veterinary medicine students who joined us last year, we now have a number of medical students participating. Even as much as this high science population reflects the population at MSU, we are thankful that we also have a number of folks in humanities, like business and music, to keep the discussions and the group itself slightly more balanced. I am deeply thankful for all those who participate, as their insights have both challenged me and contributed to deep conversations. It has been a joy to walk alongside of them as they explore faith and deal with the challenges inherent to graduate school and this phase of life.

Read more of this blog to hear more about some of the things that we have discussed and learned, along with the questions that still remain.

Continuing the work already started: a note from the Board President

When I ask fellow graduate students about their favorite parts of being in graduate school, a recurring response is the opportunities they have to push the boundaries of what is known, those moments when they realize they are in uncharted territory as they study and discover completely new things. When I think about these moments, I am constantly reminded of the many researchers that have laid the foundation before us, who pushed the boundaries of what was known and, in the process, made it possible for us to move forward, try new things, and make even more progress.

As I look at all the work that has been happening at Campus Edge Fellowship (CEF), I am left with a similar sentiment. CEF has been ministering to the graduate students and academic community at Michigan State University for over 6 years now, and the foundation laid in this process took much effort by those who entered into somewhat uncharted territory. Most recently, this work has been done by our board members who have recently finished terms (Mike Bennett, Will Demeré, Karin Polischuk, Rob Tempelman, Jeff Triezenberg, and Elizabeth Young), and we are grateful for their work.

As we look forward and ask “what’s next?” for CEF, we also get to experience the excitement of moving into new territory, trying things that CEF has not tried before, reimagining what ministry at CEF should look like, and trying to figure out how to make this process sustainable. This past year CEF has continued the work already started in a number of exciting ways: rearticulating the purpose of CEF and the needs of Michigan State University’s academic community as we revised the CEF mission statement, thinking big about how to best fulfill that mission as we cast a 5 year vision for CEF, and taking the first steps to realize that vision as we developed a one year strategic plan.

As we continue the work and ministry of CEF to the graduate student and academic community at Michigan State University, we are grateful for those that have gone before us and excited as we engage new ideas and territory. As has been the case since the very beginning of CEF’s ministry, we are extremely thankful for all of you that have supported us in this process, and who allow CEF to continue its ministry through you continued prayers, service, and financial support. We hope that together we can continue to make CEF a place of fellowship and growth.

– Jake Baker, Board President, on behalf of the CEF board: Jeff Biddle, Marcie Durso, Kristin Hintz, Sarah Mange, Jim Nicholas, and Eric Walcott