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May 22, 2023

College Missions Ministry Spotlight: St. Mark's, San Marcos

Written by Susan Hanson, of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in San Marcos

“Everything has changed”—it’s the post-pandemic mantra heard not just in our personal and  work lives, but also in the life of the university and the church. When Zoom replaced in-person worship and meetings, and distance learning replaced the classroom, the result was a kind of isolation that has left people yearning to reconnect. Finding ways to do that requires both commitment and creativity.

For St. Mark’s Church in San Marcos, that has meant, among other things, making its college ministry a priority and looking for ways it can have an immediate impact, to build momentum for its ministry to students at Texas State University.

Because of its location mere miles away from campus, St. Mark’s has recognized it serves three distinct groups of students—those who have found their way to the church and attend on Sunday mornings, the scholarship students who sing in the choir, and those who remain on campus. In every case, meeting students where they are and addressing concrete needs has been the goal.

So what do students need? Even though it seems that “everything has changed,” some things have remained the same—chiefly, the need for food and community, meaning in their lives, growth in their Christian faith, and the knowledge that some adult besides their parents cares about them. St. Mark’s is continually looking for occasions to provide these things.

At the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester, for example, the parish met university students on Sunday morning with a letter of welcome that included an H-E-B gift card. Later in the semester, Brenda and Kaare Remme, members the campus ministry committee, invited students to their home for Halloween pumpkin carving and refreshments. Students from many backgrounds attended, including many participants in on campus ministries that have connections to St. Mark’s, San Marcos and the local Lutheran congregation. Following a Shrove Tuesday pancake lunch, the Rev. Madeline Hawley joined local clergy colleagues on Ash Wednesday, dispensing “Ashes to Go” on the campus Quad.

Most recently, Marguerite and the Rev. Peter Casparian opened their home to Texas State students for a lesson in Italian cooking. Having lived in Italy off and on for years, both Casparians have much experience in the kitchen. On this occasion, Marguerite was the instructor, guiding students in making and rolling out dough for ravioli, and then filling and cooking the pasta they’d made. A delicious dinner followed.

Regardless of the event, what matters most for St. Mark’s is being a ministry of presence in the university community. Members of St. Mark’s are reaching out to establish relationships, provide for students’ needs, offer companionship, and give opportunities for students to put their spiritual gifts to good use, like inviting members of the Sigma Chi fraternity to help distribute diapers and food at St. Mark’s Little Lion Diaper Party. Wherever students are on their spiritual journey, they can find “A Place at the Table” with St. Mark’s, the Diocese of West Texas, and all our college ministry partners.

St. Mark’s will continue to look for ways to connect with these students as well as with those they meet on Sunday mornings. Already, the Young Adult and Campus Ministry Committee is building its student database and making plans to welcome students in the fall.

--Susan Hanson, Chair, St. Mark’s Young Adult and Campus Ministry Committee

St. Mark’s Young Adult and Campus Ministry Committee welcome conversations and questions about their ongoing ministry events and ideas. Contact St. Mark’s, San Marcos at stmarks@stmarks-sa.org for more information.

College Missions Council Grant

If you would like to foster a community of young adults in and around your congregation, please consider applying for a grant from the College Missions Council. The Diocese of West Texas College Missions Council supports ministries of, to, and with young adults (ages 18-30) both on and off college campuses. We are calling for proposals from parishes that envision ministry for and with young adults in the dioceses. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to support young adult and campus ministries. Grant recipients may reapply as needed, and as grants are available, in the same fiscal year. Interested congregations may send proposals to the Rev. Kevin Schubert, CMC Chair, and the committee will be responsible for allocating grant monies and coordinating college ministry efforts.

Click here to save the CMC grant application form.

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