by Adventist Today News Team

The Berkeley (California) Seventh-day Adventist Church recently hosted Campus Catalyst, a weekend seminar organized by Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) to equip student ministry leaders at public universities and colleges. Some 25 students from three California schools—UC Berkeley, Sacramento State and Diablo Valley Community College—attended the event last weekend (July 26-28). Training focused on the essentials of successful campus ministry, the power of one individual to organize a ministry, and how to use Journey, a 12-lesson small group study guide on Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Participants also spent time in groups planning campus events for the coming school year.

“Campus Catalyst is a great way to kick-start your campus ministries program for the year,” explains Ron Pickell, lead pastor at the Berkeley Church and the ACF coordinator for the denomination's North American Division.“Campus Catalyst was created to help local conferences, churches that are near campuses, and students who are on a campus launch an ACF group and to grow and sustain campus ministry.” Pickell has led four Campus Catalyst events in recent years with more scheduled in Hawaii, Florida, Nebraska and Texas, as well as five locations across Australia.
ACF is the denomination's official organization for campus ministry at educational institutions not affiliated with the Adventist Church in North America. The ministry functions under the NAD youth and young adult director, Pastor James Black.
ACF supports more than 150 student groups across North America. Because of the number and distribution of ACF groups, Pickell is working with other leaders to host Campus Catalyst events. Kirk King, who helped develop the training materials, will lead a weekend event at the University of Nebraska in September. Additional facilitators are scheduled to be trained.
Both the total numbers at public universities and the number of Adventists attending these schools underline the significance of this ministry. With an estimated 22 million students in North American universities, ACF has a substantial field for outreach. According to a survey conducted by the NAD in 2009, 15 percent of church members have a family member attending a public or secular college or university. Based on this research, Pickell estimates that between 80,000 and 100,000 Adventist young people are currently attending public institutions of higher learning. In comparison, there are approximately 26,000 students in the Adventist colleges and universities in the NAD and not all of these students are church members.
Public campus ministry is becoming a greater concern for the Adventist Church in North America. In 2012 NAD leadership voted to focus on six strategic issues, including the retention of young adults raised in the Church. Public campus ministry is a major component of this, says Pickell. Consequently, the NAD has increased funding for Campus Catalyst as well as for other initiatives such as the ACF Institute, a 10-day intensive training event for young adults who wish to serve as ACF Mission Year volunteers. These volunteers spend a year working full time on public campuses. Pickell's goal is to have ten ACF Mission Year volunteers trained and placed by the Fall of 2014. Interested young people should plan now to attend the ACF Institute to be held May 16-25, 2014, at Union College, not far from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
CRAVE is another ACF outreach. It is a week-long study group focusing on the cravings of young adults—relationships, success, money, etc.—and how these point to deeper spiritual needs. CRAVE meetings held at California State University in San Marcos included food and music, attracting 100 to 120 individuals each day. As a result, about 500 students signed up for Bible studies, far more than the ACF chapter was able to handle. Pickell emphasized that this level of response shows the potential for Adventist ministry on public campuses as well as the need for ACF Mission Year volunteers.
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