Thursday, May 6, 2021

New Protestant minister brings modern message

Within the next two weeks, the Plattsburgh State Protestant Campus Ministry group hopes to restart and gather new people together on Thursdays to provide opportunities for students to connect with God and their spirituality.

This past August, Rev. Phil Richards became the new Protestant campus minister at PSUC and will be the adviser for Protestant Campus Ministry. Richards has been at the Plattsburgh United Methodist Church for the past two years.

“It’s an opportunity for kids and youth to connect with God and spirituality and do a little community service,” Richards said. “My role as the advisor is to connect spiritually with students on campus.”

Student Association Vice President for Clubs and Organizations Taeko Kelly said she is excited for the group because it creates new opportunities for students to get involved and make the most out of their college experience.

Richards said the group plans to have a weekly discussion group. He preaches a ministry of presence, which he explained as being there for students when they need. He also plans for the group to do community service projects such as working in soup kitchens, homeless shelters or serving a free meals at the Trinity Episcopal Church.

“They don’t want to sit around talking about making a difference. They actually want to put their faith, spirituality or whatever you want to call it, in action,” he said.

After the community service Richards hopes to sit down and talk about it. “It’s much easier to feel that presence,” he said, “as opposed to sitting around in Bible study first.”

Speaker of the Student Association Senate Veronica Marchello said the group will positively contribute to the campus community through their own unique experiences and perspectives.

Richards said he looks forward to giving students a 21st century view of God. “Young adults like to put faith into action. The traditional ways of doing church no longer connects with the ways people live their lives.”

He said that within the past 30 to 40 years the church has had a disconnect with younger generations. “Rather than pointing fingers, we gotta do a better job listening.”

Richards likes connecting religion and culture. He says it’s actually more complimentary than people think.

Richards also wants the group to do activities that promote group building, such as movie nights, where the group can then discuss how the movie might connect. Down the road, Richards hopes to take a group of students to a city during spring break to work in different service industries.

Any student on campus is invited. Richards explained that even non-Protestants can join. “I see my role as a Ministry of Presence. What I’m looking most forward to is connecting, offering and being available to students especially around spirituality and issues of faith. I’m looking forward to doing creative things with the group and seeing how the group grows.”

To contact Reverend Phil Richards about the group, email him at pastorphils@gmail.com.

Email Patrick Willisch at patrick.willisch@cardinalpointsonline.com

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