Each month we hope to give an update on the 3rd Way Collective experience at Penn State! Follow this blog to learn more about how we’ve been creating spaces for peace, justice, and faith at Penn State.
April was a wonderful final month of the school year. It included meaningful chances to connect with students one more time before they headed home or away for the summer break. Highlights included our final home cooked meal and grad student pub night for the semester, as well as a collaborative event with Receiving with Thanksgiving and the LGBTQ Student Resource Center to talk about religious liberty state laws being created across our country.
As the school year comes to an end, I’m appreciating that this has been a meaningful school year at Penn State. I (Campus Pastor Ben) felt much more prepared as the fall began, this being my second chance to experience many of the seasons and rhythms at Penn State. 3rd Way Collective had a much larger student network, and a much bigger group of supporters and allies in the local community. Our student officers were more active and engaged, and our presence on campus was enhanced by the vision and dreams of students who connected in some way. Students have begun to recognize 3rd Way Collective as a safe space of support and connection. It has been touching to have students reach out to me for pastoral care, prayer, or just simply for conversation.
This year 3rd Way Collective created or partnered to create 138 events on campus focused on peace, justice, and faith. These involved more than 1600 participants including students, staff, and community members. These numbers almost doubled our first year programmatic impact – last year we were involved in 68 events with just over 800 participants. Despite these numbers, many of our most meaningful connecting points remain as small gatherings of 5 students or less. As our new team of officers and advisory team plan for the fall, we are considering again the balance between programmatic and relational ministry, and whether one requires the other.
Our most meaningful experiences are when we have partnered with others – whether that be other campus ministry organizations for our service and learning trips, or community advocacy groups, our work is enhanced and multiplied when we collaborate rather than trying to always create something brand new.
We are drawing in students who are interested in faith-based peace and justice from a wide swath of religious traditions.
Our new 3rd Way Collective house will provide a physical center for our community building endeavors, and will offer a space to create new visions for connections with students. The students who have committed to this house, and the students who will make up our new officer team, seem excited for the fall to arrive!
I continue to feel blessed and supported by our incredible Advisory Committee. It isn’t easy creating something from scratch – especially when we do not have a blueprint or an Anabaptist example to build from.
I have recently been tapped as a regular blogger for The Mennonite Magazine. These reflections are posted with other bloggers right here – https://themennonite.org/the-latest/blog/. We encourage you to visit this for another perspective.
We are grateful for your prayers and support.