Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

$125k gifted to University Ministries

Funds from anonymous alumni to expand commuter resources, diversity
Cut outs of different Saints sit in front of Alexander and Adelaide Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023 in Seattle. (Rio Giancarlo)

Seattle Pacific University’s University Ministries received an anonymous grant of $125,000 from two university alumni, to be put towards expanding programs and worship events.

The grant, announced in September of 2023, has been used to hire nine students to fill campus-wide positions dedicated to spiritual growth and exploration. Two of these students will fill the roles of commuter student ministry coordinators, a position not previously established.

The new hires are going through training fall 2023 and will be ready to serve the campus community starting winter 2023. University Chaplain Lisa Ishihara released a statement expressing her gratitude and hopefulness in the expansion the grant will allow UMin.

“We are excited at the possibilities and ministry that will continue to grow in our residential and commuter spaces,” Ishihara said.

Student ministry coordinators have the important role of providing students with a space to discuss and engage in bible study, prayer and many other forms of worship. Up until this year, UMin has not had the ability to permanently provide commuter students with such events and spiritual outlets.

Third year and senior standing psychology major Sophie Warren is excited to see the benefits of the grant first hand through her role as a Resident Hall Ministry Coordinator. Part of her position entails hiring and training the new staff.

The commuter SMCs will work closely with the existing Upperclass and Commuter Ministries on campus to make sure that students who are too often at the margins of campus events can feel seen and truly welcomed,” Warren said.

Due to commuter students’ non-residential experience, they often cannot attend late night or weekend events, adding to a disconnect with the greater community. Day-time events such as chapel speakers or small-group gatherings provide students with more access to spiritual community.

Associate Chaplain Pastor Kelsey Rorem is excited to see the benefits of providing commuter students with these opportunities, which will align with their specific needs and availability.

“The expansion of the time allows us to create spaces specifically for those students, and to say ‘You are a valued part of our community and we want to have opportunities for you to be connected and to grow in faith,’” Rorem said.

A portion of the funds will additionally go towards diversifying chapel speakers and worship leaders. According to Ishihara, UMin is gathering a group of students and faculty to search for speakers and to execute these events. Ishihara encourages students to email suggestions for chapel speakers and worship leaders to [email protected] by Nov. 1.

We’ve already started to see the benefits of this grant in Chapel services—the musicians last week were incredible,” Warren said.

While it has always been a focus for UMin to provide students with a wide range of worship leaders and speakers, the opportunities provided by the grant will allow even more diversity of faith and thought.

“It’s always a priority to us to bring in speakers who represent the diversity of our campus, both in terms of their identities and how they live out their faiths,” Rorem said.

In a university statement released on Sept. 25, 2023, university President Deanna Porterfield showed her appreciation for and hopefulness that this grant will expand the outreach of UMin, providing common access to spiritual and faithful growth for all students.

“Seattle Pacific University is committed to providing a Christian community where students can explore and strengthen their faith, and this gift is an affirmation that we have partners ready to help advance this important work,” Porterfield said.

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About the Contributor
Rio Giancarlo, Chief Photographer
Rio is a sophomore visual communication major with a minor in photography. Rio manages a team of photographers and illustrators to supply content for the greater SPU media groups. Before he took his current position he worked as a staff photographer, mostly covering sports. When not working for The Falcon he works for the SPU athletic department and as a freelance photographer. In his free time you can find him skiing, or wishing he was skiing. 
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