As Christmas approaches, we are mindful of the mix of emotions that graduate students face as they look forward to the holiday season while needing to face the heavy demands associated with course examinations, theses and dissertation defenses, day-to-day research, and/or teaching obligations. They often wrestle with whether the long hours will eventually make a real difference for someone somewhere and improve their prospects for an impactful career. We earnestly pray that while these students strive to excel in their scholarship that they also come to experience the lasting assurance that their real identity is in Jesus Christ regardless of all of their accomplishments or failures. We, the Campus Edge Fellowship (CEF) Board, are thankful that CEF is a place where graduate students at various stages along their spiritual journey, some barely just starting, can lean harder onto that assurance while struggling to understand how their studies fit within a grander scheme.
The CEF Board has experienced various transitions. Firstly, we profusely express our thanks to Kristen Hintz and Marcie Durso who recently stepped down from the CEF Board after years of faithful service. Jeff Biddle, who exemplified true servant leadership as CEF Board President for several years, stepped away from the President role this summer. We are excited to have Steve Skinker take on the CEF Treasurer role, Alison Young to reassume her CEF secretary position after coming back from research work in India, and for Cory Smidt joining our Board. We also praise God for a healthy baby born to our Assistant Pastor, Hannah Lee. While she is on maternity leave, Mitchell Eithun who has been a CEF student leader has graciously agreed to serve as interim Assistant Pastor.
The CEF Board has been busy addressing various challenges including clearly understanding our niche and how CEF can work more closely with other ministries on campus, better grasping the spiritual needs of the students that we hope to serve, increasing the impact of CEF, and maintaining fiscal stability. We are thankful for your financial support of CEF and encourage you to prayerfully consider continuing that support. I wish you a Blessed Christmas and a Joyous 2020!
– Rob Tempelman, President, CEF Board
This past semester, my prayer has been that God would lead to Campus Edge those for whom it would be a blessing and who would be a blessing to Campus Edge. As a ministry that serves a transient population, numbers tend to be a concern for us. This has been especially true this last year as several people were active in Campus Edge for a shorter time period or left earlier than expected. Yet, God has been gracious, and we’ve been blessed by new people who strongly desire to understand faith better. Join us in giving thanks for these new people and pray with me that they might experience Campus Edge as a welcoming community and might know God’s grace. Please also pray for those who are nearing the end of their programs: that they might continue to stay motivated and that they might be hopeful during the challenging experience of job searching.
We’ve spent significant time in our studies looking at biblical texts that encourage and challenge us in our living faithfully for God: the book of Isaiah and the texts for the chapel services witness to God’s concern for the natural world and justice. The books of Daniel and Acts encourage us as we engage with the culture around us and remind us of how the Spirit works in and through people like us. To hear more about our studies and other events Campus Edge, I encourage you to read the rest of this blog.
– Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink, Campus Pastor
One of the things I love most about pastoring is getting to walk alongside
people in their faith journeys. I am honoured that people are willing to share
their struggles with me, and I am thankful that I can be an encouragement in
the middle of the questions and the challenges that life can bring.
Another thing I love about what I do is looking at the Bible with others,
including difficult texts like the book of Judges. When we started reading it
this past semester, I wasn’t sure how encouraging or applicable it would be.
Yet, fairly quickly we saw how the text reveals how God uses the unexpected
people around us. At the same time, the text raises questions about how God
intervenes in peoples’ lives. Struggling through why God acts in ways we don’t
understand in the text provides a means of talking through the questions we
have about how God acts today.
It’s important to me as a pastor to provide opportunities to have difficult
conversations, whether that be talking about how God acts, political issues, or
racism. Because these conversations matter so much, we spent part of the
semester discerning why these conversations are difficult and then helping each
other learn better how to speak about things that matter to us, including
spiritual matters. We could still use some practice with this, so we’ll keep
talking about political issues at pub theology, and we’re looking further at
racism this summer.
Lastly, I want to express thanks for the people who have encouraged and
helped me in the ministry. I have been inspired and encouraged by Hannah in the
short time she’s been with us. I have also been challenged and helped by the
students who are part of Campus Edge, especially with our Lenten service and
pub theology. I also am thankful for Cory and Heather who willingly answered
questions connected to their academic journey. Thanks, too, to the CEF board
who pushed me to organize such an evening and who have supported and encouraged
me in many other ways. Finally, I give thanks for all of you, especially for your
prayers, financial support and general encouragement of the ministry.
As this academic year ends, and we on the Campus Edge board
begin to look to the coming year, there are good reasons to be enthusiastic.
Brenda has gotten more closely involved with a group of Christian faculty on
campus, helping to coordinate their monthly prayer meetings and forming
connections that should help Campus Edge in pursuing its mission. She has also
begun to brainstorm with the student leadership team about ways to work with
other churches and campus ministries to enhance the shared mission of Christian
outreach to the graduate and professional students of MSU.
We feel very fortunate in
particular to have Hannah Lee joining Campus Edge as the new assistant Pastor.
Hannah is impressively well qualified for the job, with an M.Div. from Calvin
Theological Seminary and experience in several types of ministry work,
including Campus Ministry.
Also encouraging as we look to the future is the success of our Spring
Fundraiser, “An Evening of Gospel.” The event featured a program of Gospel and
folk music, made possible by several members of River Terrace Church who
generously contributed their musical gifts. It also provided an opportunity to
spread the word about the mission and the activities of Campus Edge Fellowship.
Those who came enjoyed the music, and also gave generously to the ministry. We
are very thankful for that, and I am thankful for the considerable labor
donated by my fellow board members to make the event come off as well as it
Jeff Biddle, Campus Edge Fellowship
The following is the pastor’s report from the December 2018 newsletter
Looking back over the past semester, I’m deeply thankful for the insightful conversations about the Bible and other spiritual topics we’ve had at our studies and pub theology. Although numbers have been a bit low (about 20 people), I’ve been thankful for the relationships I’ve developed with those who come regularly. We’ve all grown deeper in understanding how we might serve God faithfully now and in the future, both in our disciplines and our lives.
I’m also excited that we’ve tried a couple of new initiatives this semester: first, we hosted Wine Before Breakfast, a brief service of communion at 7:33 on Wednesday mornings for most of October and November. We joined with University Lutheran Campus Ministry, and hopefully we’ll be able to do something similar together during Lent (albeit a bit later in the day)! I’ve also been able to participate in (and co-organize) a prayer group for faculty and staff. It’s been encouraging that there are regularly 10+ people there who clearly care about students, the university, and are following God faithfully. I was encouraged by our recent conversation about how to show compassion to students, especially when so many people are absurdly busy, many struggle with mental health issues, and the university focuses more on rules than on grace. Yet, all of us want to be seen and heard, whether student, staff, or faculty. Compassion can be shown in different ways: a gracious email after a bad grade, being present before or after class for extra questions (or with colleagues), an offer to pray for students (right now!), or simply listening to someone’s story in order to understand the need and together find resolutions that are compassionate and good.
Thank you for all your support of what we do, especially your prayers for the students and faculty. Pray especially that people who are struggling with faith would find Campus Edge.
– Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink, Campus Pastor
Taken from the December 2018 newsletter: a bit late, but still relevant.
December is a busy time for the graduate and professional students of MSU, whether they are preparing for final exams, getting ready to defend theses or dissertations, or just pushing forward day after day on their research. And in the background, the decorations and celebrations associated with the Christmas season multiply. No doubt some students regard Christmas as do we on the Campus Edge Board – a time to remember with joy God’s great gift of love, His coming to live among us. And they wish they had a better understanding of God, and of the meaning and implications of His actions. Others are not so sure that the events we celebrate at Christmas really happened as we think they did or mean what we think they mean. We are grateful that Brenda has made Campus Edge Fellowship a place where both types of students can feel welcome and can take a break among friends from the demands of their disciplinary studies to talk about the spiritual questions that they sometimes find creeping into their minds.
It has been an interesting semester at Campus Edge, with Bible studies on the parables of Jesus and Pub Theology discussions on a variety of intriguing topics. There was also the annual trip to Art Prize in Grand Rapids, and the annual Halloween party. And for part of the semester, Campus Edge hosted an early morning, on campus, outdoor Communion service.
Earlier this month, the Board organized a “Farm to Pizza” fund raiser, for which one of our Board members (Dirk Oudman) and his wife Kjersten (a Campus Edge Alumna), put their knowledge of local agriculture and their cooking skills to work to prepare pizzas using locally grown ingredients. The event was a big success, and we are grateful to those who showed up to support Campus Edge by collectively consuming over 40 of Dirk and Kjersten’s unique and freshly made pizzas. Campus Edge depends on fundraisers like this to help support and expand its mission to the MSU campus. Other ways of supporting the mission can be found on our website (https://campusedgemsu.com/donate/). I ask you to prayerfully consider giving to Campus Edge in the coming year and wish you a joyous Christmas season.
– Jeff Biddle, Campus Edge Fellowship Board President
The studies this past semester focused on understanding God and the Bible better. The first half of the semester looked at Ezekiel, and the second half focused on difficult topics in Christianity and the Bible. In pub theology we talked about everything under the sun: aliens, parenting, mental health, the American dream, human nature, technology, etc.
We continue to have about 25 people participating in Campus Edge. We’ve had a number of new people, including through pub theology which brings in people less likely to come to studies. Being a small ministry where we yearly say good-bye to people graduating, numbers can be a point of stress; we are thus always thankful when people continue attending Campus Edge. At the same time, I trust that God is using all our interactions, even if they are brief, to allow Campus Edge to reach people who are struggling. I am also thankful that a faculty and staff prayer group has begun again and that both Jeff Biddle and I have been able to attend. I pray that this will be a blessing to the wider campus, especially in light of the difficulties at MSU this past year.
Thank-you for your prayers and support of the efforts of Campus Edge.
– Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink, Pastor of Campus Edge Fellowship