Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) Report for January 2021

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Happy New Year! ECM took a break over Christmas but has resumed. Our first meeting starting this past Sunday on January 10, 2021. Due to the exigencies of Covid 19, ECM we continued to meet via zoom on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. Shannon—our president sends out the Zoom link and reminders are issued over email and GroupMe.

Blue Hen Bounty (BHB) has continued serving the community during the shutdown with spectacular support from Cana, Amy and Teresa (all honorary members of ECM with the BHB t-shirts to prove). Patronage of BHB has continued to be steady. We continue to see patrons among staff as well students. This increase has been hoped for and we remain humbled and grateful to serve our community in this fundamental way.

The new cabinets have been purchased and are awaiting installation! The floors need to be resurfaced so installation must wait. They will be installed in the Classroom to accommodate our increased supply and demand. Special thanks to Sue and Amy for making this happen!

The supermarket cards have been purchased—thanks Amy! At a virtual meeting between Cana, Amy, Teresa and I, we discussed how best to distribute and store the supermarket cards. The cards will be distributed on as needed basis at the discretion of the issuer: Cana and Teresa. A set number of activated cards (8-10) will be stored in the locked office desk. The rest will be stored in the St Thomas safe. Cana has created a simple form to keep track of the cards which have been issued for our records.

We have accepted an invitation from the St. Thomas’s CREW to have a joint virtual meeting on January 24, 2021. Kate Burchess will make a presentation of Centering Prayer to both groups during our meeting. ECM will organize the ice breaker. Sue and I met late last year to explore the options of linking the groups and I am very pleased that this will be happening soon.

ECM will work on and submit a video to be used in New Student Recruitment at the University of Delaware (UD). When complete, I will attach a link for the Vestry to review.

Our focus on explicit spirituality continues to develop. We have been building the conversation about knowing God through prayer. This past meeting, I spoke with students about the current events at the Capitol. I asked them not to close off in fear but to exercise their minds and practice critical thinking. I asked them not to give into fear or anxiety. I reminded them that they were safe in their homes and thus far, very little about their lives will change in spite of the rapid changes going on in our country. I reminded them that Facebook and YouTube and TikTok are not reliable sources of peer-reviewed information and should be avoided or cross referenced with reputable sources. I assured them that in spite of what they may have heard, there are no lizards in skin suits masquerading as people or pedophile rings operating out of pizza parlors. We had a brief discussion. Several students are taking classes and quite frankly focused on their work. Please keep all of our UD students in your prayers. This has been a very difficult time for our students even though ECM students they are blessed with parents and homes which appear to be weathering the challenges of the pandemic very well. Please, please keep them in your prayers.

University of Religious Leaders Organization (URLO) meetings have continued via Zoom which I attend— our next meeting is January 19, 2021.

With regards,   
Denise Burgher, ECM Convening Graduate Advisor

Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) Report for December 2020

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Due to the exigencies of Covid 19, ECM has continued meeting via zoom on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. Shannon—our president sends out the Zoom link and reminders are issued over email and GroupMe. 

Blue Hen Bounty (BHB) has continued serving the community during the shutdown with spectacular support from Cana (who has become an honorary member of ECM). Patronage of BHB has continued to increase significantly. We continue to see patrons among staff as well students.  This increase has been hoped for and we remain humbled and grateful to serve our community in this fundamental way.

I had a meeting with Sue Houghton from Property regarding the option of installing shelving in the classroom area to accommodate our increased supply and demand. Sue explored options and conferred with Amy. The cabinets were purchased and will be installed shortly. Amy has committed to facilitating the purchase of the grocery cards for BHB. The cards will be split between Food Lion and Acme. Amy will also purchase a few categories of items that are not funded as consistently: namely hygiene products.

The Wesleyan United Methodist Church has made a generous financial contribution to BHB and the Islamic Foundation completed our grocery list. There have been several other acts of kindness and generosity from individuals and groups across the UD campus but no one more so than our St. Thomas’s family which continues to be our most consistent generous supporters of BHB and we remain ever faithful of the ways you continue to help us meet the needs of our community. 

We have continued having our monthly events. Our first event in September was ECM’s first annual Un-hayride. We gathered in our Grove, ate hot dogs, s’mores with apple cider and wore face masks. Our second event in October—Game Night in the Fellowship hall which was well attended. Our third outing in November was to Longwood Gardens. This was well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by ECMers who could bring one guest each. We held our last event on December 11th. Craft Night was a success. We sent ECMers home with beads and findings to make wire Christmas trees (following a demonstration), we addressed Christmas cards and distributed our ECM t-shirts. Gifts for ECM supporters were assembled and left in the Fellowship Hall. This was our last gathering of the year.

Our focus on explicit spirituality continues to develop. We have been building the conversation about knowing God through prayer. This past meeting, I asked students to share the areas they felt God was showing up in their lives—an extended God moment exploration. This resulted in a thoughtful conversation. This coming meeting will be the last official meeting before break—we are in Finals Week! So please keep our UD students in your prayers. This has been a very difficult time for our students even though they are blessed with parents and homes which appear to be weathering the challenges of the pandemic very well. 

University of Religious Leaders Organization (URLO) meetings have continued via Zoom which I attend. Much of the support for BHB has come from attendees to these meetings.

Our ECM t-shirts have been distributed to the students.

With regards,   

Denise Burgher
ECM Convening Graduate Advisor

Episcopal Campus Ministry Fall 2020 update

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ECM campfireEpiscopal Campus Ministry (ECM) for college-age students at St. Thomas’s is alive and well during these strange times. These amazing young adults are really showing their flexibility and commitment.

On Friday evening, they gathered in our Grove for some Fun and Fellowship. This was in place of the traditional hayride and bonfire at Milburn Orchards, which we look forward to continuing once conditions permit.

Their food bank ministry, Blue Hen Bounty, a food pantry that provides supplemental nutrition to University of Delaware students who are food insecure and cannot provide ample nutrition for themselves, continues to serve and grow. Efforts continue to advertise this resource. The college students who visit the pantry are of all ages and walks of life, and all are grateful for the assistance. As the motto goes: taking care of the rest, so you can be at your best.

ECM campfireRecently, ECM applied for funding from the CARES Act, and was awarded $10,000. It’s overwhelming to think of all the good that money will do for our community, and all of the students who will be helped.

Please keep these youths in your prayers, as they continue to let their lights shine in our community and in the world.

Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) Report for September 2020

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Due to the exigencies of Covid 19, ECM has begun the semester meeting via zoom. Shannon—our president, sent out the Zoom link; reminders were issued over email and GroupMe. The group decided to meet on Sunday evenings at 6 p.m. during this semester in response to the challenges of coordinating around multiple schedules. Our inaugural meeting saw four students in attendance along with Sally and me. We had one new member join ECM who had reached out to us during the break as she is a new transfer student though a native of Delaware.

Blue Hen Bounty (BHB) has continued serving the community during the shutdown with a great deal of support from Cana—who is wonderful. BHB has been patronized by several students over break which has continued into the semester. Shannon, Aly and I will need take inventory of our supply and seek more contributions from the church to re-up our inventory which we will do this Friday.

ECM discussed and agreed to send a sympathy card to the members of the Chabad House along with a gift of kosher coffee produced by a Jewish company as a way to express our sympathy. We have successfully reached out to Rabbi Voegel and Sally will complete the purchase and card on our behalf.

BHB has completed an application for a grant under the CARES act which was flagged to our intention by Cana. Shannon, Amy, Father Howie and I filled in the information utilizing a google doc which was then transferred into the correct format for the grant.

Shannon and I met with the Brian Anderson from Student Life who has been assigned to work among other issues with food insecurity on campus. This meeting went very well. We have asked for a UD email address, advertising across the campus, donations of cash and kind and an ongoing relationship with UD through his department. I will report on the progress we make in these areas.

Father Howie, Devon Miller-Duggan, Sally and I (ECM steering/advisory committee) met to discuss options and ideas for ECM this year as we continue to deal with Covid 19. We agreed to create a welcome surprise for the present ECM students from St. Thomas’s. We floated ideas about the ways that ECM can interact with the broader community: chalking the sidewalks with inspiring quotes, lawn signs with the same, a campaign which outlines basic tenets of Episcopalian theology with catchy images, etc. ECM has been invited to think about what we want to do before Shannon, and I share the ideas which were raised by the steering/advisory committee.

The one idea which I did share with the group with Shannon’s agreement was our spiritual focus. This shift was in response to a need that was identified and a request which ECM made of the ECM group as separate from working with BHB.  Father Howie agreed to create a spiritual discernment/education text which ECM will work through this year that is similar but different from his, Into The Desert but more along the lines of spiritual formation. 

University of Religious Leaders Organization (URLO) meetings have continued via Zoom which I attend.

With regards,
Denise Burgher
ECM Convening Graduate Advisor

Blue Hen Bounty receives large donation from KPMG

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Fr. Howie unloading boxesIt is a blessing that St. Thomas’s Blue Hen Bounty (BHB) has been able to continue to serve students in need during these unprecedented times. Our community’s generosity has kept our cabinets stocked full of non-perishable food, as well as cleaning and sanitary products. It seems just as you can start to see the back of a cabinet, another gift comes in.

Well, this week we received a LARGE gift — 1,900 lbs. to be exact! Fr. Howie definitely got his workout Thursday morning, unloading the giant pallet of boxed groceries. Each box includes the same combination of high protein, calorie sustaining foods that can be combined and stretched in many ways.

KPMG label The donation comes from KPMG, an international accounting cooperative, and one of the big 4 in the world. “We remain deeply committed to serving and supporting our communities during this challenge our world is facing,” said KPMG U.S. chairman and CEO Lynne Dough tie in a statement. “I’m also proud of our many partners and professionals across the country who are stepping up to help their local communities at this time in so many different ways.”

Many students have needed the support of our pantry during this crisis, but there is one group that Fr. Howie was reflecting on as he unloaded all those boxes. There are a group of students who are here on student visas. According to the rules governing their visas, they are not permitted to work. However, because of travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic, as well as contributing monetary factors, these young adults are unable to return home. So, they remain here, stuck, with no legal means of supporting themselves.These food supplies are a lifeline to help them keep going and can hopefully give some comfort.

Please keep these young adults in your prayers, as well as those volunteers who keep our pantry going every week. And, let us also thank God for the generosity of those who continue to keep our bounty filled, and for the opportunity to make a positive difference in our community. At St. Thomas’s, you can see God’s LOVE in ACTION in so many ways!

Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) Report for June 2020

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Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) held our final meeting via Zoom a week after the end of the semester. Students voted on the decision to extend our meeting to complete Into the Desert. Our final meeting was well attended, and we had the honor of meeting with Susan our outgoing graduating ECM treasurer before she left Newark to return home to New Jersey.

We have convened a new executive board of ECM with official announcements to be made at the beginning of next semester.

Blue Hen Bounty (BHB) food pantry has continued serving the community during the shutdown with a great deal of support from Cana, our parish administrator, who continues to be an incredible support. BHB has been patronized by several students during this difficult time. As mentioned in the previous report, we completed an inventory of our supplies and created a shopping list. The list was needed as we wanted to be able to ask for the items we needed and because during the last Vestry meeting, members of the Vestry requested an itemized list be made available to the church in order to provide targeted support. With God’s usual extravagant grace, a member of St .Thomas’s who has requested anonymity privately requested the list and has provided many of the items we need. An updated list will be completed after the items have been received and shelved. God continues to bless

University of Religious Leaders Organization (URLO) meetings and coordinated projects have continued via Zoom. ECM—through Cana—printed the labels for the URLO Insomnia Cookie drop, I delivered them to St. Thomas More and we have submitted our forty-dollar share of the cost to Lumos. The delivery of the cookies should take place sometime this month. Each packet will have a message from the URLO and the list of religious organizations on the label.

Please continue to keep our ECM students, all UD students, our Blue Hen Bounty food pantry and our UD community clients in your prayers during these challenging times.

With heartfelt appreciation for every member of the St. Thomas’s family who makes ECM, BHB and the though those mediums the love God tangible, thank you for your ongoing support and love.

Regards,

Denise Burgher
ECM Convening Graduate Advisor

Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) Report for May 2020

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O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succor. Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (1928 BCP, 45).

This prayer aptly captures much of what Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) continues to try to do during this Covid-19 season. As grace would have it, the students who are members of ECM are largely unaffected by some of the struggles other students have had to confront. As a result, we are not trying to support our students as they confront difficulties with food, housing or other challenges occasioned by the pandemic. Instead, we are supporting our students as they deal with the stresses of completing classes that rapidly went online, develop their own spiritual practices all while trying to navigate a rapidly changing environment from the familiarity of their childhood bedrooms.

To that end, we have continued to meet via, zoom where we check-in with each student and discuss what is going on in their lives and with their studies, the ways they are coping with the pandemic and working with Father Howie’s, St Thomas’s Virtual Lent Retreat text, Into the Desert.

Blue Hen Bounty (BHB) food pantry continues to serve the community and Cana, our Parish Administrator, (again!) helped BHB and the University of Religious Leaders Organization (URLO) by printing the labels for the organized Insomnia cookie drop to the International House.

We have one graduation coming up, Susan Zaccaria, who has served in leadership and on the E-board with ECM and is a key team member of BHB. Susan will be graduating from the UD School of Nursing (yea!!!). Susan will be sorely missed during weekly meetings and in indefatigable service with BHB.

Please do keep the members of ECM in your prayers as students move into Finals week with exams, papers and projects. This is an unsettled time for students and the necessity to continue to produce and meet expectations during this period of global instability is challenging.

God’s peace,

Denise Burgher
ECM Graduate Convening Adviser

Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) Report for April 2020

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Due to the exigencies of COVID-19, Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) has been meeting via Zoom since we resumed our meetings after Spring Break. Shannon—our president sends out the Zoom link; reminders are issued over email and GroupMe and everyone joins.

Our meetings have been well attended with usually five to six college-age students in attendance and Sally Price and Father Howie joining regularly. We have started a weekly devotional series based on Father Howie’s Into the Desert. We are using the text as way to explore life during the relatively desert-like conditions of COVID-19.  Everyone has been participating and the study has been going well.

Blue Hen Bounty (BHB) food pantry has continued serving the community during the shutdown with a great deal of support from Cana—who is wonderful. BHB has been patronized by several students during this difficult time. At this rate, we shall need to take inventory of our supply and seek more contributions to reup our inventory.

Sally Price completed a cookie run for the International House on behalf of ECM. Sally purchased 30 individually wrapped sleeves of Oreo cookies and delivered them to the front desk of the building. The International House houses students who could not return home after the campus was closed. Information regarding our online meeting Zoom meetings and BHB was distributed to the residents through the University of Religious Leaders Organization (URLO). URLO meetings have also continued via Zoom.

Denise asks that we hold our students in prayer as they maintain schedules and academic expectations during this time. 

Denise Burgher, Convening Graduate ECM Advisor

Hungry and grateful college students

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Hello everyone,

The signup sheet for providing meals for our Episcopal Campus Ministry is posted next to the name tag table in the Great Hall.

Please prayerfully consider signing up to bring the meal for them on a Wednesday between now and December 5.

Thank you,
Sally Price