Even while 2016 had its challenges, blessings abounded, particularly for the students of Christ Chapel at Texas State. A few of the year's highlights are below, but first I must say thank you to all who have given so generously over the past year. The support of our donors make this ministry thrive. If you are one, we thank you. If you would like to be one or are looking for an end-of-the-year gift to make, follow the link on the bottom of this newsletter and you'll find a PayPal link on our webpage. And now,
THE HIGHLIGHTS OF 2016
While not something new, feeding the homeless of San Marcos each and every month continues to be a highlight for students. We thank Lauren Sorell for her leadership in this effort, begun this year past on January 4th and carried out faithfully on the first Monday of every month all year long.
We continued with creative experiential worship services on Wednesday evenings, including visits from six different University faculty who came to talk to us about how their confession of faith shapes their profession. This weekly event, named Bread + Belonging, always begins with sharing a loaf of freshly baked bread.
Our Sunday evening services moved from 7:00 to 5:30, with supper provided on the first Sunday of each month by the fine folks from First Lutheran. We've enjoyed a variety of liturgical settings for worship, most penned by Marty Haugen.
In February, we continued our annual tradition of protesting the harmful rhetoric of travelling evangelist Brother Jed Smock. On a more positive note, we joined with our friends at UCM and raised over $1,500 for the Hays County Food Bank through the sale of hand-made Valentine's Day cards on the Quad.
Our Spring Break Service Trip didn't use up a bunch of gas; instead, we volunteered at the Southside Community Thrift Store, the proceeds of which benefit ministries such as the homeless shelter. It was a meaningful way to serve, though it might lack the appeal of a trip to some exotic locale.
In April, we remembered our roots in an exploration of the Passover through word and meal. In the same month, we added a new weekly prayer service, a Thursday Noontime Pause for Prayer. This 15 minute service uses the ancient monastic texts for our prayers and the music of Taize for our songs. In April we also continued our tradition of taking part in the state's annual Beach Clean-Up day, spending two nights at St. Mark's Lutheran Church and helping them on Sunday afternoon pack thousands of "Kids Against Hunger" meals.
In May, bees invaded the sanctuary, rendering it unusable until we figured out how to encourage them to leave (open the door, it turns out). We also bid farewell to graduates Mary Underwood, Sam Verastegui, and Nathan "Juice-Juice" Anderson, among others.
Our Fall semester started strong with a welcome back barbeque dinner and another outstanding retreat at Wessendorff. Sadly, multiple accidents have led the Wessendorff Foundation to close the Narrows to swimming. Nonetheless, the retreat remains a valuable time to get away from the stress of school for a few days.
For one of our weekly free lunches for students (now serving around 120 each week), we doctored up some of the "Kids Against Hunger" meals we had packaged in the Spring; the casseroles we made were very well received.
In October, we sold candy and cakes on the Quad in another bid to support the Hays County Food Bank. In November, Christ Chapel represented a voice of tolerance and respect through our peaceful protest when our campus was marred by threats of violence against some faculty and students.
The semester ended with our annual White Elephant Christmas party and tree decorating. The results are in the picture at the top of this page. The tie is a tradition now; it was given to decorate the tree by Ben Castillo some years ago when he quit working at KFC (and yes, it is a KFC tie). Ben and Reagan Mitchell got married this Fall, by the way.
Not all was joy; we mourn the loss of our friend Anita Albers, a member of First Lutheran who was always leading the way with Sunday evening meals, our Finals Survival Kits, and so much more. And we were all stunned by the loss of one of our students, Sommer Morton, whom we had just begun to know, but already dearly loved.
We've a great year ahead with plans to continue monthly events such as "God Goes to the Movies" and "Jesus on Tap." We'll be taking some field trips as well, both for fun (Natural Bridge Caverns) and service (beach clean-up). All of this is punctuated with lots of meals together, game nights, laughing and crying together and simply being the body of Christ with each other and for each other. Again, thank you for your help in all of this.
May the remainder of your Christmas season be joyful and your new year filled with blessings.
P. S. Here's that button I mentioned at the top...