By Ethel Hornbeck, Director of Spiritual Formation and Campus Ministry, Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church

Connections @ SU, the Presbyterian campus ministry at Shepherd University, meets regularly at the Blue Moon Cafe.

At a recent gathering of Connections @ SU, the Presbyterian campus ministry at Shepherd University, students reflected together on the question: what is hope? Among the answers I heard that day: hope is enduring love (double meaning intended); hope is made of compassion, gratefulness and persistence; and hope is very hard and very vulnerable work. 

I am consistently amazed at the eagerness of these young people to engage challenging spiritual topics and practices, and inspired by the wisdom that so often emerges given just a little bit of encouragement. In the midst of their busy and stress-filled lives, students seem genuinely hungry for the tiny oasis of peace and community that we create each time we gather, break bread (well, nachos, actually!) and listen together for the Voice of Love calling each one beloved.

No surprise that these are the same people who are always seeking ways to give back, which happens in various ways, including regular participation in a program that cooks and serves meals to the local homeless community. Based at nearby Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, Connections has become one of that congregation’s most vital mission programs, providing an important channel to reach out and touch the world — and the lives of these nearby young neighbors — with God’s love.

At the same time, Connections has enriched the life of Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church immeasurably over the years through student participation in all aspects of church life, including music, worship leadership, education, and mission work. None of this would be possible without the encouragement and consistent support of the Westminster Foundation of West Virginia; we are deeply grateful for the collaboration and the community that we experience through this vital partnership.