Category Archives: Students

Sweet potatoes, BBQ Church, Convocation kick off fall term

Sholom Farms_26
Service Day at Shalom Farms

We welcomed new and returning students to the Richmond campus for the fall term with a Service Day on a farm to benefit low-income Richmond communities. Nearly 30 students were joined by seminary staff at Shalom Farms to pick several bushels of sweet potatoes and sort them for distribution to after-school programs, food banks, and community kitchens.

Relay games on the quad

Earlier in the week, students were treated to a picnic and relay games on the quad that tested their coordination and athletic skills. The Joyful Feast sponsored a special edition of BBQ Church inside Lake Chapel, where they celebrated worship and a meal in a wonderfully hospitable way.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism leads BBQ Church

After classes began, we paused midweek to celebrate our 205th Opening Convocation. Professor of Preaching and Worship Richard Voelz, our newest faculty member, presented “#ForTheSakeOf” inspired by Psalm 122.  

Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship Richard Voelz

In response to the sermon, congregation members were invited to live tweet using the sermon title as the hashtag.


Director for Alumni Development Clay Macaulay (D.Min.’85) presided at the communion table. Students, staff and faculty joined together in a litany to commit themselves to their academic and professional work throughout the 2016-2017 year.  The service was followed by a community photo shoot and lunch in Lake Chapel.

Opening Convocation procession

We look forward to the year ahead!

Alternative Ministry Break

“I stepped into Broad Street Ministry and Beacon last summer and immediately thought, ‘I have to come back here and bring my classmates,” said Rosy Robson (M.Div./M.A.C.E. student). So she did, with the Communities of Learning and Supervised Ministry and Vocational Planning offices, which sponsored a trip for Union Presbyterian Seminary students, staff, and faculty to Philadelphia for the first Alternative Ministry Break.

The group participated in various worship and service opportunities over the weekend, engaging with Broad Street Ministry, Beacon, and Arch Street Presbyterian Church. The trip included serving at Broad Street Ministry’s Breaking Bread service which provides high-quality meals to the city’s underserved population, and working at a local urban garden.

12994556_10209624695114113_7682388637944250006_n (1)
The group at Beacon.

“We talked and reflected a lot on our sense of call this past weekend,” said participant Melissa Miller (M.Div. student). “Really, the question is not what position in the church are you called to but to what kind of work or cause are you called? The honest answer to that question will lead you to a church building, a hospital, a counselling center, a classroom, a homeless shelter, an urban garden, a church plant workshop, an administrator’s desk, a camp program. It’s about what makes your heart beat and your blood pump.”

The Alternative Ministry Break was the capstone of  Communities of Learning’s year-long focus on creative expressions of ministry.

“In our classrooms and with our ordination committees, we talk about how the church is changing, but we struggle to conceptualize what this change looks like and what it will mean, said Robson. “Yet, these places are actual, living, breathing, examples of this change. These places are witnesses to the resurrection, and their lives of ministry and worship sing a song of hope for what God’s Church is unfolding into. We left Philadelphia inspired, energized, and excited for the paths that God has set before us.”