Referring to the story of Elijah and the Lord’s Army in 2 Kings, Greg Richards, the director of College Missions, said, “I want to help you see what God is doing in different places, places you don’t always think of, particularly on college campuses.”
Within the past year, the Department of College Missions has seen a couple changes. The name of the department changed from College Ministry. “Our new name allows us to continue to see the 300,000 college students in our diocese as our mission field, and it reminds us that we are living missionally on the campuses,” said Richards. Also in 2012 the department brought two more people on staff, Allie Melacon and Roberto Cellis. Allie is helping facilitate programs on the various campuses in San Antonio, and she is also leading a women’s Bible study at Texas State University in San Marcos. Roberto is focusing on developing and growing a program at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).
The programs that were begun a couple years ago at St. Mary’s University and the University of the Incarnate Word are thriving and growing, with more students attending the weekly activities. At UTSA the numbers have gone from four attendees at start-up to almost 20 that attend a weekly Bible study and cooking class. At Trinity University a group of students come together to pray every Monday and also meet for breakfast tacos twice a month. “Trinity is a tough nut to crack,” said Richards, so students with leadership potential continue to meet to discuss programming.
Richards said one of the primary goals of College Missions is to share life, and they want to do this in as many ways as possible. In addition to their programs on the college campuses, they also take part in short-term mission trips. This spring break 15 students from five schools will travel to the Dominican Republic, as they did last year. Students also take one trip each semester to Cliff Maus Village in Corpus Christi, a low-income housing complex, to continue to build relationships that were formed between the children there and the summer Family Camps staff at Mustang Island Conference Center.
College Missions also plans retreats, including two Vocares that were held in 2012. This fall, they will embark on something different and will co-host a Texas Episcopal College Conference with the Dioceses of Texas and Dallas. Another retreat for recently graduated high school seniors and rising seniors is planned for July called Portal 13. Held at Camp Capers before senior high session B, this retreat will help these young people prepare for the physical and spiritual transition from high school to college.
As Elijah was able to see God working in his situation, he was also able to spread that vision. Richards said, “We need leaders that can envision spreading our programs, so that we can start working in the coastal area and the Valley.” He then said, “It’s been a crazy, busy, amazing year, and this next year promises to be the same. God is using your gifts to do amazing work in the diocese.”