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.
Penn State is back in session! The beginning of a new school year was somewhat different this year because my (campus minister Ben Wideman) welcomed a new baby into my family! This meant that while students were being welcomed back to campus I was not always present. I’m thankful for people who were able to step in and make sure 3rd Way Collective was still running smoothly.
Once again we’ve created an event schedule that we hope will provide the Penn State and State College community with meaningful ways to engage faith-based peace and social justice. Since the start of the school year we’ve created or collaborated on 28 different events, ranging from home-cooked meals to theatrical performances and coffee hours.
Our regular weekly events often include just a handful of students, they have provided wonderful ways for people to connect and respond to the issues that they are working through in their lives.
Early in September I was asked to participate in an Evening of Hope, Healing, and Remembrance, honoring those who have lost their lives to suicide, and standing with friends and family members who remain. It was deeply moving to participate in this kind of an event, and to hear the stories of people who were present there.
We were especially thrilled to have Ted & Co. Theaterworks present for two shows this fall – Listening for Grace, which revolves around the way people of faith embrace LGBTQ people, and Laughter is Sacred Space, which engages recovery after loss and in the midst of mental health struggles.
As we did last fall, we collaborated this month with three other campus ministry organizations to offer a service and learning trip to Pittsburgh. Students who attended were able to engage issues of justice around food and homelessness in an urban context. Our hope is that they carry their findings back to our campus.
We also partnered with dozens of other organizations for the first ever International Day of Peace March on Penn State’s campus. This culminated in a demonstration on the steps of Old Main and included speeches and many heartfelt calls to action.
Some of the most meaningful times have been when I have connected with students in one on one settings. Whether these are celebrating with a student who is discovering who they are, or sitting with a student who is struggling, I am reminded again that pastoral presence in a person’s life is more important than simply offering more event programming. Our campus has so much going on, and sometimes we forget to slow down and remember what is most important.
Thank you to all who have helped to make our fall a meaningful one so far.
If you would like to support the work of 3rd Way Collective, head on over to our giving page!