It all started over two and a half years ago, as a group of local pastors from diverse churches met to pray together. A discussion about Penn State Abington began, with all of the pastors voicing a desire to see a new gospel presence and loving witness on that campus. Things moved quickly, and a partner was found in the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a college ministry based in Pittsburgh and expanding to many campuses in the Philadelphia area. Seven churches committed to support the new work, including New Life Glenside, and Spencer Golomb arrived as CCO Campus Minister to Penn State Abington in the fall of 2015.
And it’s possible that on a Sunday morning you might find Spencer on our worship team!
But what about Arcadia University? As you probably know, Arcadia is just a mile and a half down Easton Road from our church. Ten years ago CCO placed a campus minister at Arcadia University, and after a decade of labors he is now leaving. Because of this, just a few months ago CCO asked New Life to consider a new partnership to continue this work. This partnership would be different, however, than what I described concerning Penn State Abington, for the Arcadia campus minister would be a New Life staff member. So as a previous New Life e-News email described, we have been busy moving forward and interviewing CCO-recommended candidates!
But how does this opportunity make sense for New Life? How does it fit into our values and trajectory?
It does so in many ways! First of all, this reflects our passion and commitment to missions, which has been evident from the beginning of New Life’s history. Consider the church’s early work in Uganda and Ireland, which helped launch World Harvest Mission, now Serge, in 1983. Like Serge, our people serve in word and deed around the world (check out the pictures near the kitchen!), and our congregation members have been especially active in recent years with trips to Asia.
But do missions have to be foreign? Not at all. They could be nearby, in our own community. This is especially relevant because New Life has increasingly felt called to be a church seeking the good of our local community, the Easton Road corridor. And it is here in Glenside that we find Arcadia University, a school of 4,000 students, already with a solid Christian ministry and in need of new leadership. We will be joining God’s work already in process.
It is also important to note that we are not envisioning this work to be solely the efforts of a new staff member. Far from it! In fact, we have had enthusiastic congregational involvement already, particularly in the interviewing process, and we’ve heard excitement about being a part of these new efforts. For instance, consider hospitality. Would you want our Arcadia minister to bring some college students over to your house for lunch? Let us know! Last time I checked, college students like food a lot. This simple act can be a big help.
Now the next point is very important, and I haven’t mentioned it yet. What I have described thus far is how this position would primarily consist of CCO ministry to Arcadia students, and this will constitute at least 75% of this staff member’s labors. But what about the rest? Here’s the answer: we plan on this staff person devoting time to New Life’s own college students, namely, those who grew up in our church (– and probably don’t go to Arcadia!). Furthermore, this could also spill into efforts with other young adults, those not attending or finished with college. A lot of the details here haven’t been 100% specified yet, as we need flexibility to allow this staff member to concentrate on Arcadia in the near term.
Stepping back from the details, I hope you can see how this whole effort reflects our passion and commitment to the next generation. We want to reach them with the good news, which also means walking beside them through an ever-changing and confusing world. During the last couple of years, many of you have spoken to church leaders about your desire to see New Life becoming increasingly mindful of young adults. Furthermore, wise voices outside the church have confirmed the importance of us pursuing steps in this direction.
We have been encouraged by recent financial giving at New Life. At the time I am writing, we have a small surplus. Thank you so much, and God be praised. As you know, work on next year’s budget is under way, and what is being proposed is a significantly larger investment in missions and our local community — both being significantly reflected in this Arcadia/CCO position. We believe this reflects our abiding mission statement: To know Jesus Christ and make Him known.
If you have any comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
For His Glory,