The Canterbury Club at Troy University—an Episcopal Campus Ministry sponsored by St. Mark’s in Troy on the campus of Troy University—was excited to become an officially recognized campus organization. The Student Government Association reviewed the roster of officers, the constitution and bylaws, and the mission and goals of the group and voted unanimously to include the Canterbury Club as an official campus organization. As the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast’s only Canterbury Club, this official recognition is the culmination of a year of working to revitalize this important ministry. After the arrival of Father Curt Kennington, the Campus Ministry Team at St. Mark’s assembled in Fall 2017 and began the work to bring a Canterbury Club back to the Troy University campus. Campus ministry had been a part of St. Mark’s mission and vision in the past, but an official Canterbury Club had not been recognized on campus for decades.
In 2017, the Campus Ministry Team prepared and delivered gift baskets to campus Episcopalian students at Christmas, cooked food and joined in the celebration of “Thanks-gay-ving” with the Spectrum Alliance (an LGBTQ/allies club), and began the process of becoming an official Troy University campus organization. Continuing into 2018, many events and projects have continued to expand this ministry. Various St. Mark’s church committees have sponsored monthly dinners at the church with fellowship and compline. A visible and impressive presence on campus has been established including: assisting during Freshman Move-In Day, hosting a “Welcome Tent” during the first week of classes, hosting a tailgating tent, and offering time with the rector at the coffee shop. T-shirts and Koozies were handed out at our dinners and at our “Tailgating Ministry”. The collaboration and support of Troy University Spectrum Alliance (LGBTQ-Allies club) continue.
Maggie Irsik, a long-time member of St. Stephen’s in Brewton and new member at St. Mark’s was recently selected as the campus intern and is excited, along with the rest of the campus ministry team, about sidewalk chalk drawings, posting signs, and flyer distribution on campus to reach as many students as possible, as well as assisting in administration and communication. The main goal right now is to get our new Canterbury Club known to students in the area and get them involved.
Additionally, the group was excited to receive a $4500 grant (“The TRUE (Troy University Episcopal) Spirit: Reinvigoration of the Canterbury Club at Troy University” ) from The Episcopal Church’s Youth and Campus Ministry—one of only six funded campus ministry grants in 2018.
A brief except from the grant beautifully explains why this project is such a great mission for St. Mark’s and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast:
How do we know that the missions of the Episcopal Church and Troy University are aligned in a synergistic way? How do we know that Troy University is ready for our vision to bring the Jesus Movement to campus? In 2015, Bishop Curry described the Jesus Movement by stating that Episcopalians “are simply the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, seeking every day to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Just like Jesus.” Troy University has long-cherished the same ideals and principles; the recently re-introduced Troy University motto from 1887 is “Educate the mind to think, the heart to feel, the body to act." The importance that Troy places on using your whole self to gain an understanding of the world and become prepared for life, as well as that students are encouraged to see the need for using their hearts and minds as instruments of understanding, is perfectly in line with our basic mission as Episcopalians. Troy University is an ideal environment for a campus ministry founded on Episcopal beliefs and creeds to thrive.
Thus, the creation of a strong officially recognized Episcopal Ministry at Troy University is allowing the Episcopal messages of Christian inclusion, love, evangelism, and peace to be delivered to and shared with a receptive group of students that are ready to be part of the Christian love we offer through the Jesus Movement.