Deacons Become Bridges on Local University Campuses
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Two West Ohio Conference deacons are living out their call through building bridges from their church to local universities. The Rev. Lucy Kelly and the Rev. Hannah VanMeter have seen God open doors to new ministry opportunities at Otterbein University and The Ohio State University.

“College is a time when many young people fall away from the church and/or their faith, for a variety of reasons,” VanMeter said. “The OSU Interfaith Council found that United Methodist churches were the most requested, and we’re going to respond to that.”

Kelly added, “We are trying to build a ministry based on student need, not on our perception of what students want.”

Kelly, who serves a shared role as associate pastor at Church of the Master United Methodist Church and as director of faith and spiritual life at Otterbein University, said, “The mission of this ministry is to bridge the church and the Otterbein community to help these communities thrive together.”

Through sharing meals, discipleship and interfaith groups, relationships are built. “We are creating a brave space for people to ask questions and learn about personal theology, as well as breaking down biases and assumptions,” Kelly said.

VanMeter will begin a new role as minister of college students and young adults at Short North Church, effective July 1. She launches a Fresh Expression of ministry on the campus of The Ohio State University with the support of Short North and the West Ohio Conference Office of Fresh Starts and New Beginnings.

“What I’m most excited about,” Van Meter said, “is being on staff with the Rev. Amy Aspey and building relationships and connections with OSU students. My hope is this expression of church will allow young people to be empowered by their faith and emboldened to respond to God in their community and the world around them.”

We celebrate these exciting new ministries! The goal is to create inclusive and affirming spaces where students find a sense of belonging. You can support these new ministries through prayer, financial and alumni support, and volunteering. Our hope and prayers are that the Spirit will move boldly in and through the next generation on these college campuses.

Submitted by Lyndsey Stearns-Klein on behalf of the West Ohio Conference Office of Ministry