This year, for the first time in two years, many high schools will return to in-person celebrations of and for high school students across the state. As chaplain for St. Francis House on the UW-Madison campus and Missioner for Young Adult Ministries for the Diocese of Milwaukee, let me be the first to congratulate all our graduates! The additional stresses of the past two years, on top of the “normal” challenges of life as a high school student, are due celebration of this accomplishment!
Whether high school is to be followed by college, tech school, or the daily life of “adulting,” my prayer for each student is to experience God’s abundant love. This prayer is shared by many across The Episcopal Church, especially here in Wisconsin. There is a growing movement across our state for young adults (currently defined as ages 18-30) to encourage conversations for their spiritual lives. The Diocese of Milwaukee has two part-time chaplains and one full-time chaplain serving UW-Whitewater, UW-Milwaukee, MSOE, and UW-Madison. The Diocese of Fond du Lac has priests and congregations committed to serving students at UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point, Ripon College, St. Lawrence University, and St. Norbert’s College. Additionally, there are congregations committed to providing programming for young adults who are not participating in a college setting.
This is the first of updates you can expect from me with news for and about young adult ministry here in WI. Today, let me share three suggestions related specifically to high school graduates.
On behalf of the young adult and campus minsters across the state, Congratulations! We look forward to seeing you in the fall! You are Beloved!
The Rev. Bobbi Kraft (she/her)
Chaplain, St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center - UW Madison
Young Adult Missioner, Diocese of Milwaukee
Episcopal Campus Connection Wisconsin, a college student database, has been launched by the Diocese of Fond du Lac Campus Ministry Task Force. for church leaders to be able to make contact with Episcopal students. Episcopal Campus Connection Wisconsin is a Google form where students, parents of students, or clergy can share information about attending a Wisconsin postsecondary school.
Form managers will share this contact information with nearby congregational leaders. Only those managing the database have direct access to the detailed information. The congregation is then able to reach out to the student. They may want to just "Hello" or "Welcome" and offer an opportunity to get together. It is up to each congregation to determine what they want to do based on their gifts and resources.
"The goal is information sharing which is simple for reaching out with ease," explained Bishop Matt Gunter. "Ministry with young adults, especially college students, may be one of the most important ministries the church can undertake. Episcopal campus ministries are few and far between so local parishes are often where campus ministry needs to happen."
Each Episcopal congregation across the state will receive a letter about the Episcopal Campus Connection Wisconsin along with digital notices. It is hoped the creation of Episcopal Campus Connection Wisconsin can better equip our church leaders for expanding ministry.