The Mount has introduced a non-denominational Christian service for students on campus, with services taking place in Pangborn Chapel at 4 pm on Sundays.
In order for the services to be held on campus, the Center for Campus Ministry had to obtain permission from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. “They were very supportive,” said Father Brian Nolan, with no conflicts in the process.
Mackenzie Tate, a senior at the Mount, attended the first service which took place last Sunday. “For me, the service felt like home,” he expressed.
He thinks that Pangborn Chapel is a good starting place for the service. Tate thought that the service was not well advertised, so he was “pleasantly surprised” when he saw a crowd of 20-30 people there.
The premise for the service was to support “Christians of various denominations,” said Nolan. Its purpose was to also support the incoming class, especially because of their great diversity.
Campus Ministry has offered a list of off-campus religious services every year, and there was a time when there was a group called “IDDM” for Interdenominational Ministries, but nothing like a non-denominational service has taken place on campus. Tate noted that the Mount is heading in the direction of creating a culture of inclusion when all religions are accepted, not just tolerated.
Dr. Dwayne Brown is the minister leading the services. Nolan spoke highly of him saying, “we’re blessed to have him connected with the Mount and the Center for Campus Ministry.” Brown has experience working in an ecumenical environment and has served in Christian ministry for over a decade, including churches in Ohio, Washington, D.C., and most recently in Maryland. In addition to his vast experience, Nolan commented saying he has a “warm personality.”
Tate thought that Brown was a great fit for the service. Brown read from Genesis 2:2 and then talked about how Christians struggle and sometimes they feel like God is not answering and explained the importance of waiting on God. Tate thought it was a great message to give for his first service.
Some people might feel that it is inappropriate to have a non-denominational service in Pangborn Chapel where the Eucharist is kept. In the Catholic tradition, the body of Christ is present in that Chapel. Nolan responded to this by saying that Christian services are consistent with the Catholic mass, and we have permission from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, so there should be no conflict with that.
Tate explained, “this service is extremely important” because instead of having to drive off campus or find a service by himself, he is able to connect to his Christian faith directly on campus. “It is extremely integral to help students be supported in that way,” he continued.
Senior Mary Hearon is very open to the idea of the non-denominational service here on campus. She has actively practiced her Catholic faith while being at the Mount and said, “I believe that as Catholics we are called to make sure that we are creating a welcoming place for everyone in our community.”
She also reiterated that now, more than ever, it is important to offer this service to students because our community is diversifying. “The most important thing is that people are cultivating their life, no matter what faith that is.” She further added, “I am excited for more people to praise our God.”
When asked if there are any ideas to further help support non-Catholic Christians at the Mount, Nolan stated that all aspects, especially retreats, are open to all Christians, not just Catholics. He reiterated, “We actively encourage Christians to be a part of our retreats and really anything in campus ministry.” He included that the mission of Campus Ministry has always been about growing in relationship with God and Jesus Christ.