Three years ago, in the spring of 2011, I began attending services at the Raleigh Episcopal Campus Ministry. I had recently transferred from a university in Atlanta and was new to Raleigh. During the previous four years of high school I had hardly been active in Church life. Nonetheless, as a cradle Episcopalian, ECM was intuitively the first place I thought to go for orientation in this new city. During my first visit I was greeted warmly by several students my age, including Eliza Marth, who has since become one of my dearest friends. The celebration of the Eucharist was a familiar comfort in an otherwise unfamiliar place. I immediately felt at ease as we prayed together, like I was among friends. At dinner I joined in conversations about university life, upcoming social events, the joys and anxieties of fellow students, and faith & social justice. I left the Cheshire House that evening with several new friends and a glowing sense of community and belonging. I had no idea what impact the campus ministry would have in my life until much later, and I am still discovering the knowledge, insight, spiritual growth, and lasting friendships that have resulted from my involvement at ECM.
Part of my attraction to ECM was the atmosphere of compassion and commitment to faith and social justice. A deeply formative part of my time there was during Wednesday night bible studies, where we were challenged by scripture’s radical call to put faith into action. I learned more about the injustice faced by migrant farmworkers, Palestinian refugees, and the homeless, and I learned how to firmly respond to injustice from a position of love and faith. During trips to Washington D.C. we witnessed systemic poverty and responded by advocating to our congressional representatives for their support of anti-poverty measures. Just as Christ was an advocate for us, I believe we are called to advocate for and with each other by engaging our political systems from positions of steadfast faith. Because of these experiences at ECM, I was recently able to participate in an advocacy conference with our Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple and Eliza, in which we put our faith into action by petitioning our North Carolina senators to support the poor through legislation.
Three years later and I am on the other side of where I was in 2011. I am finishing a degree in History & Christianity and I am discerning a call to ordination. ECM helped me to hear and respond to this call and I am grateful for the meaningful community and rich experiences that contributed to my formation. I have maintained the relationships that I developed at ECM and consider the people that I met there to be my closest friends. Accordingly, it brings me joy to see freshman students entering the door of the Cheshire House each fall because I know they are entering a nurturing community of faith that will form them into compassionate, communal, and faithful people – my experience is a testament to that.