Many Asian colleges and universities have adapted their traditional chaplaincy frameworks, responding to such dynamics as multifaith student bodies, reduced numbers of ordained ministers on campus, and students’ needs for emotional, as well as spiritual, support. The Asian Campus Ministry Forum, which the United Board and International Christian University convened on March 12-14, 2019 in Tokyo, provided an opportunity for representatives of nearly 40 Asian colleges and universities to exchange ideas on creating and sustaining nurturing campus environments. The forum also explored character education and counseling services for distressed students. Campus ministry, participants agreed, can create bridges for members of different cultures and traditions to engage with each other, as well as inculcate a sense of mutual respect and social responsibility. The need for bridge-building became even clearer after the program to a Sri Lankan participant, who shared this reflection following the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. “One month before, I was in an international conference to learn how to serve in a multireligious context. Now I am working with people of other faiths, especially with Muslims, to bring peace and harmony in Sri Lanka.”
(First published in Horizons in June 2020.)
Update: Planning is underway for a second Asian Campus Ministry Forum in 2021.