Condolences to our Campus Community

Amid the celebration and revelry surrounding graduation this weekend, our community has been shaken by an on-campus stabbing this past weekend.

A 22-year-old white UMD student, Sean Christopher Urbanski, has been charged for the deadly knife attack on and is being investigated for a hate crime against Richard W. Collins III, a 23-year-old black Bowie State University student.

Our prayers are with the family and friends of Collins.  Additionally, however, our prayers go out for racial justice.  This has not been the only recent racially charged incident at UMD, and students are understandably devastated.

We at United Campus Ministry offer up our hearts and lives, O God, to your powerful Spirit so that we can live and serve for justice and righteousness.

As the investigation continues, we will continue to remain here for students.  We will also think critically about how to remain hopeful in such terrifying times.  Though we remember that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10), we understandably ask questions about how to maintain faith in that idea in times such as this.

Nonetheless, Romans 10:17 reminds us that “faith comes from hearing the message,” so United Campus Ministry will continue to emphasize our hopeful message about the Grace of God in the days to come.

Fall Updates!

We are excited to begin a new semester and have several different weekly student meetings.

Tuesdays, beginning August 30, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel Lounge is our first Faith and Hot Topics Discussion/with Free Dinner. A fun time to chat about topics that matter, honoring diverse voices.

Thursdays, beginning September 1, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in Memorial Chapel, Conference Room, #1118, is our Study Zone (Come hang out and study with kindred spirits. Find ways to connect your academic work with your faith/spirituality.)

Sundays, Beginning September 4th, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in Memorial Chapel, Chapel Lounge and Garden Chapel, is our Spiritual practices/Meditation time. Come relax and refresh your spirit through prayer, meditation, music and walking the labyrinth!

Sept. 4th we’ll also have ice cream : )


Wednesdays, starting up on Sept. 7th, 12 – 1 p.m. in the Pyon Su Room, 2108, in the Stamp Student Union, is our L3: Power of Purpose Discussion Group/with Free Lunch (The program is a safe space for students to talk about their hopes/fears about their possible career/professional plans, and connect their faith or core values with finding/living out their unique life callings.)

And we are going on a BEACH RETREAT Sept. 16 – 18th “Trusting Your Heart-Sails”. Should be awesome, and a great way to connect with other students. Cost only $25! Read further down for more details : )

Escape to the Beach! L3: Listen, Learn, Lead Beach Retreat

“Trusting Your Heart-Sails: Navigating UMD’s Changing Tides towards a Purpose-Filled Future”

Come for a fun and relaxing time, walking barefoot in the sand, watching the dolphinsand taking time to listen to the wisdom and dreams of your heart.

How can what matters most to you (your spiritual or secular values) be your guide as you navigate this year’s unique challenges and academic waters, and journey towards your unique life purpose/or professional call? We’ll explore this together.


This retreat welcomes students from diverse, spiritual/religious and secular backgrounds.


WHEN: September 16 – 18, 2016

(We will leave campus Friday afternoon and return  Sunday afternoon.)

WHERE: Christian Church Conference Center, 215 Pennsylvania Ave.,Bethany Beach, DE

2 blocks from the Boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean.  Great Gelato spot nearby!

(Information about the center can be found at

COST: $25 towards travel expenses! Thanks to a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. food and lodging are covered.

Friends and Roommates welcome!

If you are interested in coming and/or have any questions please contact retreat leader Chaplain Holly Ulmer

L3: Listen, Learn, Lead – Integrating faith/spirituality or core values with university life towards creating a professional future.

Update from Intern Melva!

With the new school year approaching, and a rather intense social climate given recent events, much of my time for UCM has involved thinking of ways to best engage students in the Fall, with activities, fellowship, and spiritual growth no matter what God has in store. It is always a challenge to meet the needs of the collegiate community when the social climate of the global world is constantly changing, but I’ve persisted. Currently, I am working with community service representatives from Martha’s Table, So Others Might Eat, and the Leadership and Community Service Learning office in Stamp Student Union, to begin brainstorming programs, service opportunities, and cool things to do in the Fall. 
On a more personal level, however, I continue to wrestle with my secular occupation as a social scientist, my spiritual identity as a born-again Christian, and my socio-sexual identity as a queer body. In the eyes of the world around me, I make the perfect combination of complexity needed in today’s Academy, to offer myself and my talents to students who may relate. However, in my very conservative Christian upbringing, it’s quite the opposite. The beauty, however, that I am realizing over and over, is that every Christian has a purpose, and no person’s purpose is of lesser or greater value than the next. And so, as I continue contemplating God’s asking of all us Christians, to act justly, love freely, and most of all, walk humbly with Him in all that we aspire to do, I take comfort in knowing that God knows what is best for me.  While I may not be educating youth from behind a pulpit, perhaps, I can educate youth in my own unique way without devaluing my identity as a Christian.
Melva Coles
L3 Intern

Where are the Young People?

For those who didn’t hear me speak on Overture 05-05:

“Where are the young people?” As a young woman at General Assembly, this is the question I have constantly been asked.  Everyone in this room has either asked this question or been asked this question. I’ll tell you where the young people are:

They are not invited to the table by their sessions or presbyteries because the assumption is that ‘they wouldn’t be able to come due to work.’ You know how to fix that? Put in a dependent care policy.”





Courtney Steininger

National Capital

The Room Where it Happens

Yesterday was an incredibly long day at General Assembly, so I apologize for my blog post coming in a bit late, but still wanted to talk about all that happened yesterday in “The Room Where it Happens.” I will make sure to be more timely with my blog about today!

To frame this blog, I want to make two things clear about my personal background. First, I am Hamilton trash, and played Rev. Holly Ulmer a song from Hamilton while we were driving to a NCP meeting this past winter. Second, I would just like say that I am working to make my own major in Narrative Methods at UMD.  As a result, I care deeply about how we tell stories.

Our church is a safe space for all people. This is the story that we, as the PCUSA, want to tell people.  But we do little to equip people to act in this manner.  Jesus Christ is Lord of the conscious.  That is the very definition of reformed theology. We all are equal in the eyes of God and capable of making decisions.  With that in mind, we do little beyond making statements.  We need to act like we are all equal, and don’t ever call someone #justanelder. Both TEs and REs are crucial to the success of our denomination. We, as sisters and brothers in Christ, are all in the room where it happens. Including young people in this church. But our invitation seems less important than the invitation of others in our congregation. What kind of narrative are we telling?


I want to close with something a little more light-hearted sounding, but still deeply serious to me and to our denomination and Jesus’ Bride, the Church. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Yesterday I heard about a Super-Bible-heroes curriculum that reminds me how important our work is.  We are #allministers and  What To Fix, PCUSA (or my preferred attention-grabber, #wtfPCUSA) is that we need to empower and equip our ruling and teaching elders to know this. As a YAAD, I struggled yesterday with the environment of my peers and the environment of all GA as my peers in Christ.  God the Mother and Father Call us to treat each other well and allow ourselves to be opened to the way of the Holy Spirit. I look forward to committee work and beyond. This can be the counter-narrative at General Assembly.

Peace and Blessings,

Courtney Steininger

L3 Intern

Simple Gifts

Somehow, today I emerged as the new Presbyterian comedienne.


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I began my takeover of all L3: Listen, Learn, Lead social media early this morning. From the get-go, I was able to exist at the center of the Presbyterian twitter-verse with gems like my tweet above! In all seriousness, my first proper day at the 222nd General Assembly was amazing and eventful, and above all, was intimately informed by my involvement with L3, how L3 has developed my leadership, and how it has informed my sense of calling.

This week, I am#GA222 and will not be able to attend my Great Uncle Joe’s funeral. I remember sitting around the dinner table at my Grandma Marie’s  giving my political opinions when I was 15 and taking a government class for the first time. Uncle Joe said, albeit in a joking tone, that “Maybe you should be a politician.” He had confidence in me and faith in my beliefs that I don’t even know if I had myself. In Portland, I reaffirmed my baptismal calling and call as an advisory delegate. In a sense, I am now a politician, though not the type Uncle Joe implied I should be.  This memory was brought to mind as we sang “We Shall Overcome” for friends we’ve had and friends we’ve lost in our opening worship. I was brought to tears as I recognized that God places clues in our lives about our Calls.

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Today, I wanted to talk about these little clues, or “simple gifts” from God, as it were.  Sometimes this gift is the ability to make a cute joke, as I did above.  And sometimes, the gift is the song, “Oceans,” first introduced to me in college by two women on my freshmen year floor.  We sang it today as the General Assembly, and I remembered the way that those two women, sophomores who were and are my friends, guides, and mentors, affirmed to me that a secular university does not need to make you secular. Indeed, they opened me to new ideas and the new ability to strengthen my faith in that setting.

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I am also incredibly grateful for God pushing me towards the campus ministry I got involved with. Certainly, without Rev. Holly Ulmer, our Chaplain, I would never have gone to a presbytery meeting and I would not be sitting in Portland right now. This was another simple gift. The first activity that I remember doing with United Campus Ministry during the second or third week of my freshman year was to think of all of God’s signs that point to your calling. I had no idea of what to say. Today I saw directly all of God’s “simple gifts” that brought me to this Call at GA. The only way I was able to notice them today was because of my involvement in UCM and L3:Listen, Learn, Lead.  This leadership development and campus ministry experience “equipped me” to serve today and in the upcoming week.

This is what the Presbyterian Church (USA) has done for me. I only hope that after #GA222, PCUSA will be empowered to do this for so many other young adults too.  I look forward for the week ahead and will be on twitter constantly and here once a day!

I would also like to give a special shout-out to Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston for being elected as the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America’s first EVER CO-Moderators! Just another one of God’s gifts to us all! As the YAAD from National Capital Presbytery, I feel especially touched that God put me in this place to know these amazing and special women.

Peace and Blessings,

Courtney Steininger

L3 Intern