"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Saturday, August 28, 2004 We're beginning the 9th year of Washington University Episcopal Campus Ministry. I guess you would call it nine, even though that first year was just Christiana, Ellen, Randy and me.
But over those years, it's been the most amazing community I could ever imagine being associated with. In January, I'll be attending the ordination to the priesthood of one of our first members, Noah Evans. We've got two others in seminary and a bunch more on the way. We've added a fantastic deacon in David. We've bought and remodeled a house. We've sent people to Nicaragua, Tazania, Ghana and the Sudan. We've said more hellos and goodbyes than I can count. We've had incredible parties and celebrations and we've held onto each other for dear life when Julia was killed.
And most of all, we've gathered, time and time and time again -- on the floor in Umrath, in St. George's Chapel, in people's suites and apartments, at retreat centers, and so many times in the front room at Rockwell House -- we've gathered as the Body of Christ to receive the Body of Christ -- and in so doing become more fully what God created us to be.
I remember my first year at SMSG, I told myself I didn't want to be spending my life working as a priest if it wasn't transforming lives. If there is one thing I can be sure of about the life of this community, it has done just that. I am more grateful than I can express each day that God has put us all here together and that God continues to draw people in and send people out.
So, even as we start to meet the new students (and we've already met some really awesome new students!), I've been looking at some snapshots of those who have come and gone (and speaking of gone, a good piece of my hair has gone with them). Enjoy. Maybe you'll see yourself!
Back row (L-R) Cori, Brandy, Doug, Jane, Kate, Me, Peter, Noah.
Middle row (L-R) Ellen, Sarah, Christiana.
Front row (L-R) Lisa, Ivy, Amber
Too many people to name. This is the 2001 Christmas party at Rockwell House.
Our first night of our pilgrimage to Natchez the spring after Julia died. That's Tom and Leine McNeely on the far left, Rory (still in her pajamas from that morning!), Amanda Tillman (Julia's best friend), David, me, Laurie, Amy, Steph and Jen.
Christmas party, 2002. Schroedter is in motion in the bottom left. And no, that's not Rory's baby ... it's Hayden. Not pictured -- Emily Gibson, who is behind the couch.
Our latest group shot ... David's ordination!
Friday night at the BBQ for incoming freshmen, as I looked around, I saw so many faces that aren't in any of these pictures. That's the wonderful thing about this ministry. Every August is like Christmas with a whole huge group of people like presents under a tree waiting to be unwrapped. And every August also, people whom we have loved for years and still love are off starting next chapters in their lives. Some are doing that in St. Louis. Caroline is in Switzerland. Beth is getting ready for seminary. Sarah is in Med School. Eve and Nicole are in Minneapolis. Laurie is driving around the country writing a book. Hopie is moving to K.C. and then traveling around the world. Amy is headed to Philadelphia to do Servant Year. The list goes on and on and on.
My dream is to have a reunion in May, 2006. It will have been 10 years of ECM. And the joy of the reunion will not just be getting people back together again, but having the ones whose years never crossed meet each other.
I really could not be more blessed in my life. With my family. With my friends. And with this amazing community.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."