Ben Wideman begins his role this fall as the new Anabaptist Campus Pastor for Penn State. He is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and Fuller Theological Seminary. He enjoys exploring issues of faith, peace, and justice, and spending time with his wife Meredith and two daughters.
Three years ago, members of University Mennonite Church in State College, Pa., began dreaming about how they might deepen their relationship with Penn State University. A proposal was made to shape and develop a campus ministry that would connect with students on campus, rather than simply hoping that students might find their way to the church building on Sunday morning. These conversations ended up resulting in the creation of a brand new position – Anabaptist Campus Pastor for Penn State University – and a new on-campus student organization called “3rd Way Collective”.
This position and new student organization creates opportunities for Penn State students and faculty to connect and engage around issues of peace and justice, explore faith and spirituality, experience interfaith dialog, participate in service opportunities, and find spaces for deeper community.
Through 3rd Way Collective, we hope that students are able to engage real-life issues, wrestle with the teachings of Jesus, and develop meaningful friendships. This may primarily appeal to Mennonite students, but our hope is that it will go beyond our denomination to include students from many different faith traditions and backgrounds who are interested in what it means to take seriously a call toward peace and justice.
College is a time when you can ask deep questions, engage difficult issues, and explore the world around you. College also provides an opportunity to dig into your faith journey and to discover what lies at the core of what you believe. I was shaped during my time as a college student at Eastern Mennonite University, and as an MDiv student at Fuller Theological Seminary. Needless to say I am thrilled with the opportunity to create space and engage students as a campus pastor at Penn State.
We continue to look for students to help shape this new initiative, and for churches that are willing to partner with University Mennonite Church in making this ministry an ongoing and life-giving presence for Penn State University and the local community. If you would like to learn more, please visit our website or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.