Every summer, Goshen College students have the opportunity to take part in GC Campus Ministry Inquiry programs volunteering for congregations, camps, and service agencies across the world while exploring faith and vocation in the process.
This summer, the program’s 30th year, 12 students participated in the three inquiry programs: Service, Camping, and Ministry.
The inquiry programs are “high-impact,” said Bob Yoder, Goshen College’s campus pastor.
Through them all, students have the opportunity for real-life experience in a faith-related field, building strong relationships with their supervisors and learning about themselves in the process.
Yoder works with students to discern proper placement in order to combine their major and career goals with a ministry or service-oriented project.
“One of the great things about [the inquiry programs] is that you get to choose placements that are relevant to your interests” said junior Hannah Friesen, one of this summer’s participants.
Through the Camping Inquiry program, juniors Aidan Friesen, Rae-Ann Miller and Andrew Nussbaum served at Camp Friedenswald in Michigan, where they helped campers grow in their relationships with God and each other.
Sophomore Dillon Hershey and senior Taylor Zehr served at Camp Deerpark in New York and Little Eden Camp in Michigan, respectively. Goshen’s Camping Inquiry program provides an opportunity for students to serve in roles of support and leadership in camp environments that reflect their passion for learning about God and self through nature and activity.
Goshen’s Ministry Inquiry program also allows students to connect with congregations of their choosing for an opportunity to learn more about the logistics, challenges, and inspirations of working in church ministry.
Two students, juniors Emily Stoltzfus and Danny Aramouni served with congregations in Wisconsin and Illinois, respectively. Aramouni, a double major in molecular biology and Bible and religion, worked with Reba Place, a Mennonite congregation in Illinois.
Stoltzfus, a social work major, worked at Madison Mennonite Church in Wisconsin and with several local organizations in the Madison community. As a social work major, Emily used her ministry inquiry as a time to gain experience in professionalism and public speaking.
“It’s an incredibly valuable experience even if [you] don’t go on to be a pastor,” said Stoltzfus, “not wanting to have a job specifically related to the church shouldn’t stop you from wanting to participate – especially if you are purposeful about being involved with the congregation. Doing some prior research about the congregation you will be joining will have a big influence on your experience, and I found that my own congregation was amazingly hospitable and welcoming.”
Students working through the college’s Service Inquiry program have a chance to connect with church communities and mission agencies to work in areas of social injustice, giving them a chance to embody the college’s core value of compassionate peacemaking. Junior Hannah Friesen served with Central California Mennonite Residential Services (CCMRS) in Fresno, California. There she volunteered at an organization which provides a Christ-centered support network to adults with developmental disabilities.
Senior Jill Steinmetz served with Mennonite Central Committee East Coast in Akron, Pennsylvania. MCC is an organization dedicated to showing God’s love to people in need of relief across the world.
Junior Sara Azzuni served in Jordan, working with the United Muslim Relief Organization. According to Azzuni, her main duties were to help in food distributions and awareness sessions in refugee camps as well as to work with a medical mission called Save Syria.
Azzuni’s experience at the mission was “both eye-opening and heart-breaking at the same time,” she said.
A little closer to home, junior Jose Ortiz and senior Simelwe Dlova found Service Inquiry assignments in Goshen. Ortiz volunteered at the Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, a treatment center for mental health and addiction treatment, serving patients of all ages. Dlova, an informatics student, served on campus, working with ITS Media to set up new phone lines around the school.
While twelve students spread out around the country and beyond to complete their assignments, Yoder worked with Joelle Friesen, a 2017 graduate of the biochemistry program, through the Maple Scholars summer research program to study the outcomes and impacts of past Inquiry programs.
Yoder and Friesen’s research showed overwhelmingly positive results from the alumni whom they surveyed.
Friesen and Yoder asked alumni to assess the impact that the Inquiry programs had on their personal faith and development.
“Over 95% of participants reported that it was a beneficial experience and can identify pivotal moments from their IP experience(s) that impacted the direction of their life,” said Friesen.