When the new University of Ottawa (Ont.) campus ministry begins this summer, it won’t only serve Christian students on campus. It seeks to be a gospel presence in the entire city, reaching out by being involved in community activities and social justice initiatives.
The ministry, launched out of a partnership between Home Missions, Classis Eastern Canada, and four Ottawa-area Christian Reformed churches, will serve the more than 70,000 students living in the area. That includes students at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and Algonquin College.
“Our goal for this ministry is to form an incarnational Christian community that is also an incubator for future leaders,” says Sheila Murphy, outreach ministry developer with Classis Eastern Canada. Murphy says the hope is that the campus minister will work to build bridges from campus to church and to surrounding neighborhoods.
The idea for a community-focused ministry was inspired by Home Missions-supported campus ministries at the University of Guelph in Ontario, led by campus pastor Jamie VanderBerg; and Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., led by campus pastor Brad Close. Both of those ministries are focused on their communities, seeking to connect the campus with the community through worship, hospitality, discipleship, and social justice efforts. They also collaborate regularly with local churches and community development groups.
The new campus minister, expected to be hired in July, will seek to bring the gospel to life by working with various campus and community groups to foster awareness of the links between learning and community service.
The new ministry will also focus on faith and education within the university context, according to Larry Vandergrift, professor at the University of Ottawa and one of the originators of the ministry.
“University is a challenging time full of questioning for many students,” Vandergrift says. “There is a dearth of spiritual services on the university campus, and we want to fill that void by helping students who face challenges to their faith and want to integrate their faith with learning.”