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Meeting the Needs

2 Corinthians 8:2:  In spite of their terrible ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and deep poverty have led them to be abundantly generous.
     There are needs in our community. Some are spoken, some are held in silence, some are held in shame.  We know there are students and families that struggle, finding it hard to make ends meet. The Seminary understands that hardships can happen, even to the wisest of stewards. An accident, an illness, a death in the family, the unexpected and the unusual all can lead down a path of frustration and financial hardship.
     That is the heart behind the Phillipian Fund. It is supported by gifts from persons within the community who wish to provide financial aid to students experiencing unexpected or unusual hardship or loss. Requests may be made personally or on behalf of others to any Community Formation staff, who will channel the requests appropriately. (Funds are not dispersed to pay normal household expenses.)
     Out of this Phillipian Fund, our Phillipian Food Pantry was created. There are many families, many students, that can financially make ends meet, but are “food insecure.”  They and their families struggle with hunger, with meeting the day-to-day food needs.  Food insecurity is defined as a “ state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”  There are a number of families here that utilize SNAP, which is the government’s food assistance (also known as food stamps).  But even with SNAP, their food money doesn’t always stretch through the month.  International students and their families usually cannot qualify for SNAP, and can sometimes suffer from hunger more often than others.  There are single parents in our community, right here within the seminary walls, that fret and worry over feeding their children and making ends meet.
     Are you aware of the needs? Did you know your next door neighbor may not be able to feed their family once a day, much less three times daily as most of us expect to eat?  Are you one of the 49.1 million in the United States that suffers from food insecurity?
     We understand there is sometimes shame and embarrassment in admitting our needs. We know that there are those in our community who are suffering, often in silence and embarrassment, as their stomachs rumble and the worry wears on them.  But we also know that we need to minister to one another, in the ways that we are able.
     So, a food pantry was created. It has been in existence for a year or so now, advertised by word of mouth.  We have had a few food drives to help stock it, including one this past fall as we gathered food during our Fun Run/Walk.  We also  moved the Pantry into the Community House, to make it more accessible. We want to be able to help one another meet the most basic of needs.   This is also one of the reasons that the Community Garden is open to all to harvest from the community beds, without cost, to help feed those in need.
     Community Formation, and Formation Ministries in particular, is desiring to connect those with needs to the resources that are available, including our Food Pantry.  If you are in need, or you know of someone within our community that could use assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hold this information in confidence, and in prayer.  We want those in our community to know that we honor their privacy.
     If you would like to donate food to the Pantry, or money to the Phillipian Fund, please contact our office. We can take any type of non-perishable food items, as well as paper goods like toilet paper, paper towels, etc.  Healthy and gluten-free options, as well as canned proteins like tuna or chicken,  would also be wonderful to receive, as many prepackaged foods don’t work well for those with allergies.
     We are so grateful for the generosity that this community has in caring for one another, and it is our deepest prayer that we will continue to love one another in such a way.  Thank you for loving your neighbor.

Growing a Community

We have fun in our department being creative, brainstorming new ways of connecting people to one another, bringing the Seminary community different ways to interact. We love to program, to really think through what the needs and desires of the community are, and try to meet those needs through our events and programs.

We help foster connections.

We can provide the time and space to meet one another. We can help give you tools to strengthen your marriage, or your parenting skills, or your group interactions. We can help you find a small group to be a part of, or help bring you in to a giant meal with your neighbors. We can give you “adult” time by caring for your children in childcare so that you can talk to other grown-ups.

We want to provide as many opportunities as possible for you to meet new friends and connect with others in our community.  We offer monthly potlucks, women’s communion, Us Time (a marriage enrichment time), and an ESL class for international spouses.   We help put together small groups at the beginning of each semester for students, spouses, and couples. There is the opportunity for Spiritual Formation Mentoring.  There is childcare provided for all of our events (except for potlucks) and during chapels on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We also have fun, random events like the Seeds Family Worship concert or the ATS Color Fun Run/Walk that give you the space to come out of your home and see one another. We help provide opportunities and places to interact with others.

But we cannot build community.

That is up to each one of you.

Community is built upon caring for one another, helping one another, loving one another.  Community is built by sharing, by being open and vulnerable, by honest and loving communication.  It is built by spending time with one another, intentional time growing friendships, cultivating deep conversations, sharing our stories.  It is built by getting to know your neighbors on a deeper level that just a “hello” on the street on in the hallways. Community grows by putting trust in one another, by having a spirit of hospitality, by doing simple things with one another to connect on more than a surface level.

But it takes being bold, stepping out of your comfort zone, stepping out of your home, or study carrel, or the library.  It takes boldness to step into and live into community.

It is up to every person to choose to live into community. It is a choice, and sometimes a hard one, to come and be present and to build community with one another.  It can be difficult to come to things and just BE.

In our world of always doing, always going, there is something wonderful and glorious in taking the time, the moment, to just be present, to be engaged, without pretense or expectations. There will always be papers to write, places to go, and work to do. But when you can come, be with those who are in the same situation, who understand exactly what you are going through, those are the times that you can relish. That is the community we want to foster. That is the space and time that we want to give you, as a precious member of this community.

But we need you.

It takes more than a department on campus to build community. It takes more that one or two people with a heart for others. It takes you. And me.  It takes us pouring into one another, being honest and real. It means risking.

Are you ready to risk? Are you ready to grow a community that cares for one another, that loves, that forgives?

Are you ready?




Our office, along with the entire Office of Community Formation, has gone through some big changes in the past year.  One of the most obvious is the fact that our offices have changed locations. We are no longer found in the student center, but over in McPheeters. (If you are specifically looking for our office, the room number is Mc104. ) Our second big change is our name. No longer are we Family Formation. We are now Formation Ministries, as it more encompasses the work we do.  Though we do have a heart for the spouses and the children of this community, we also care for the needs of those in our community who are single, and those without children, and the name change helps reflect more accurately the work we do. Ministry is most definitely where our hearts lie.

Our childcare area also has been transformed this year. We have a new supervisor, Jeannie Bryan, and we are so excited to have her. She comes with years of experience teaching music in a preschool, so we know we will be blessed by her! We also have many new childcare workers, as well as a dozen returning workers, so we are delighted with the depth of experiences and faith that all of these young men and women will bring. We are also now sharing the space with Jessamine Gymnastics, and if you swing by there when childcare isn’t in progress, you may just see a foam pit, parallel bars, mats, balance beams, and the works, all laid out.  For those who have utilized the room in the past when childcare hasn’t been in session, you will find that it is now occupied often with gymnastics classes. (For more information about the gymnastics, please visit their website:

The feel and the environment of the seminary seems to alter slightly every spring as members of our community move on from this place and move out into their ministry fields. Fall changes things, as the air is electric with the excitement that only comes with the start of school. New students and new families move in, settle in, and ready themselves for what this new adventure may bring.  And we are here, ready to do what we can, to help every person feel welcomed and valued.

This week has been New Student Orientation (aka NSO) and it has been a delight to get to meet so many new people and be re-energized by their enthusiasm.  We have been blessed to meet many of the spouses during our New Couple’s Orientation, and we are so excited to see how each person will bring a new perspective and energy to what we do.  As we continue to adapt our programs to best meet the needs of those who live within the community, we also continue to learn and grow from every person here. You touch our lives, just as much (if not more) than any program or event we offer can touch yours.