Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

SMC ministry sees changes for future

University Ministries talk restructuring, compensation, leadership requirements

Changes to a long-standing structure in one of SPU’s ministries means new opportunities for creative engagement, according to Associate Director of Campus Ministries Kelsey Rorem and Minister of Discipleship and Student Ministry Coordinator Advisor Deb Nondorf.

“The intention is still relational ministry, to be a presence in people’s lives, to offer spiritual formation opportunities in the residence halls, and I’m so curious to see how it will actually manifest,” Nondorf said. “We’re really encouraged and excited.”

Positions open for the 2018-2019 academic year includes one residence hall ministry coordinator to serve as the main student coordinator and 15 student ministry coordinators distributed amongst the residence halls proportionally. This is a change from the current organization with two campus student ministry coordinators serving as the main coordinators of eight RHMCs and over 30 SMCs — one per floor in each residence hall.

Changes also include compensation for the RHMC and SMCs — something that’s been advocated for over several years.

The one RHMC will make $5,050 a year in the form of a leadership scholarship, the same as the other seven ministry coordinators on campus, and the 15 SMCs will make $2,465 a year in the form of a leadership scholarship in addition to half of their residence hall housing costs covered. The scholarship money comes from ASSP and the university agreed to the terms of the proposal in which they cover half of the housing costs.

By including a break on housing costs, ministry leadership hopes that the new compensation model will attract older, more spiritually seasoned students because they know that living on campus is often inconvenient for upperclassmen. The role has typically been filled by students in their second year, and viewed as a stepping block for other student leadership opportunities on campus, but they want to see students get involved in other areas first before stepping into an SMC role.

Also, recognizing that a 15-hour-a-week volunteer position is a lot to ask of most students, Nondorf and Rorem wanted to make the positions more accessible to and equitable for students.

These changes came out of reevaluation of the ministry prompted by the work of SPU’s Campus Ministry Task Force. In the spring of 2014, the task force released an assessment of current University Ministries programs, compensation and the required leadership course in the discussion.

Nondorf and Rorem say that after the release of that report, they started brainstorming ways to make the ministry more worthwhile for students. They felt it was important for them to sit and pray with the ideas, and to discern what God was at work doing, to ask what God would have them do moving forward.

“It’s just healthy to evaluate our ministry spaces every so often to say is this still viable, is this still fruitful, is this still serving the purpose we want it to, both for our student leaders and for the students in the residence halls specifically,” Rorem said.

“One thing we’ve noticed across the board is in student leadership is that students are just infinitely more busy these days, many have multiple jobs to even be here in school, more internships required with academic programs.

“The SMC role is a big role and we wanted to also evaluate what is a sustainable and healthy for our student leaders, at the same time.”

They asked for input from students in the ministry, and even hosted a gathering of alumni scattered throughout the 10 years that Nondorf has been advising.

There, Nondorf and Rorem asked the alumni to share their different experiences, reimagine the role and propose any changes they would hypothetically make.
She says that a “team-like structure” came up multiple times at and beyond that event, so she just couldn’t turn away the idea.

“There have been decades of really good work and it makes me grateful, but there are ways to move forward and still honor it,” Nondorf said. “I wanted to make sure people felt heard in this process because that’s important to me.”

In addition to the SMC course during Fall Quarter, the 15 SMCs will take a SoulCare course and serve as a SoulCare leader for one group each quarter. SoulCare is the name of Wesleyan Small Groups for UFND 1000 students out of SPU’s Center for Biblical and Theological Education.

As the teacher of the SMC course, Nondorf wanted to take the SoulCare course to make sure it offered new information for her student ministry coordinators. With all the new elements, Nondorf believes students will leave the SMC role very well-served.

“I’m taking the SoulCare course right now to see what will be asked of my people, and it is rock solid, with Kara Gray, Joshua McBrayer and Celeste Cranston out of CBTE,” Nondorf said.

Some students have asked Nondorf about the potential for inter-hall activities and she believes the new structure will encourage that.
Nondorf and Rorem are also excited for the time that a smaller staff will free up for the SMCs to dedicate to their ministry work, and for the opportunities to get creative with their outreach and fellowship.

Future SMCs will still be held accountable in a similar way, such as meeting with the RHMC individually on a weekly basis; the RHMC will meet with the ASSP Vice President of Ministries on a weekly basis as they oversee the coordinators of all eight different campus ministries.

Katie Baumheckel, the current ASSP Vice President of Ministries chairs the ASSP Ministry Council that meets weekly and serves as a resource and adviser to junior Jacky Nakamura and senior Luke Palmer, this year’s campus student ministry coordinators.

She meets with each of them about once a month to hear feedback on the current SMCs and to discuss how she can best serve their needs so they can best serve the SMCs who they oversee.

“Generally I would say I am very optimistic about the changes,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity that can come from this and I think the ability for students to be compensated for the work that they’re doing is just respectful of their time, their effort and their heart for ministry.”

Baumheckel sees inevitable trial-and-error next year in figuring out how best to facilitate this new and exciting proposal. “I think that the VPM next year just being willing to come alongside the future RHMC and support them in how they would like to structure this, will be big,” Baumheckel said.

“A lot of it will depend on who the coordinator is for next year and how they best see the SMCs serving the residence halls through event planning, small groups, and through collaboration, fellowship and community.”

Out of five RHMC applicants who were interviewed last week, junior Tia Hyodo has been hired as next year’s RHMC who will oversee the entire student ministry coordinator program.

Nondorf, Hyodo, the two current CSMCs and eight RHMCs and a few SoulCare staff — representing the new Wesleyan Small Group leader component — will conduct interviews for next year’s SMC positions starting next week. All offers for the 15 SMC positions will go out on March 16 — the last day of winter quarter.

“There is much to be excited about in my mind,” Nondorf said. “I hope the current SMCs feel valued and empowered to do their work as well. There is a grief process happening because of the change, but I think people are starting to catch the excitement.”

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