Greater Worcester UU Campus Ministry

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Did you know you are famous? You are. Many of you know that I have been feeding the souls of campus based people here in Worcester since 2003, when I was first invited by Stuart Floyd to help him start a Unitarian Universalist campus group at WPI. That ministry soon expanded to Clark University, Worcester State, and UMass Medical School that first year. Over the years the groups came and went, some sites growing, some being let go, but always with the spiritual support and various levels of financial support from UUCW, my personal spiritual home, and eventually my place of professional ministerial affiliation.

Our congregation affirmed that this ministry is too important to give up. So despite all recurring obstacles, we chose to grow. We became, through the hard work of many, many lay people, the students themselves, my dear colleague and ally Aaron, A great deal has happened in the last fifteen years. As the ministry matured we expanded, contracted, then expanded again. With a selected board of young adults and allies from the congregation, we sought multiple congregational benefactors to share the load, added more colleges, created multiple ways to reach out to young adults. We grew strong, despite severe economic downturn.

Our congregation affirmed that this ministry is too important to give up. So despite all recurring obstacles, we chose to grow. We became, through the hard work of many, many lay people, the students themselves, my dear colleague and ally Aaron, and myself an Anchor congregation in 2008. There remain only two UUA anchor congregations in Massachusetts to this day.

Through multiple changes not limited to at least 8 transitions in college presidents, 4 presidential elections, 3 very different US presidents, not to mention an ever changing population of the over 500 individual students served by our own clubs, we continued. In spite of difficulties including the loss of important funding streams, partially attributed to the  17 ministerial resettlements in the many surrounding congregations that have helped support us in past, the Greater Worcester Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministry that we built together, friends, adapted, persisted and remains. We have survived.

This year, when the October leadership training GWUUCM originally scheduled at our congregation was undersubscribed, rather than cancel, the Unitarian Universalist Association asked us to bring our homegrown UU campus ministry leadership training to UUA headquarters in Boston.

This last weekend, GWUUCM created and ran that campus leadership training workshop where at least 20 people, students, clergy and even some UUA staff, from all over and even outside New England were participants. We hoped to share from our gained experience how they can also lead, create, nurture, improve and support their own campus ministries, wherever they go, whatever the world throws at them.

The training was developed and led by myself, Rose Gallogly, Clark U 2016, Joe Viola, Clarku 2017 and current ministry student at BU, and Rev. Annie Gonzales, outgoing director of young adult and campus ministries for the UUA. Together we presented this program at UUA headquarters to rave reviews.

Persistence pays off. The experience was amazing. I could not have done all this without your support! I thank you, the college students in Worcester thank you, and the now, with the help of UUA, UU students around the nation also thank you.

The photographs are of participants attending the training in the chapel at UUA headquarters.