Inquiring and Discerning Hearts : Vocation and Ministry with Young Adults on Campus

Portaro, Sam A. and Gary Peluso. Inquiring and Discerning Hearts : Vocation and Ministry with Young Adults on Campus. Atlanta, GA: Scholar's Press, 1993.

Using national denominational documents, as well as broad group consultations and individual interviews, Portaro and Peluso trace the recent history (1948 to 1990) of campus ministries within three denominations: the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, the United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. The authors conclude that the challenge of helping young adults grow into a mature faith-filled identity amidst the religious diversity and conflicting cultures of higher education has led campus ministry to the development of theological education and spiritual formation that is centered on understanding and supporting vocation in the deepest sense of that word. By vocation Portaro and Peluso point to Parks' call to nurture the young adult imagination, and suggest that the vocation of campus ministry includes the "informing and nurturing of the student imagination." Such a process must purposefully confront and embrace the richness of diversity that exists on many college campuses, and use it as a way of helping students to deepen their own faith identity in conversation with others (as opposed to developing such an identity over against others). In particular, the authors point to the ways in which campus ministries throughout these decades helped to inform, challenge and provide continuity for the energies of young activists, as well as young evangelists. Some historians have argued that such support has led to the marginalization of campus ministries. Portaro and Peluso argue, instead, that such perceived marginality is the hallmark of Christian ministry. If the mission of campus ministry is to reunite the fragmented lives and institutions this ministry is called to serve, campus ministry can be in no other place than on the edge. They also suggest that campus ministries and parish ministries have much in common, and should (where possible) find themselves to be supportive and helpful partners. The book's extensive footnotes trace a rich set of resources that are central to understanding campus ministries, some of which are national "state of the endeavor" evaluations. (MH)