Woodrow Wilson said, “The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it”. As St. Alban’s Chaplain at The Citadel, I am in the enviable position of swimming with the stream most of the time – and thus I lose perspective on just how powerful a stream I’m actually in. But occasionally, I get the unique opportunity to shift in the stream in such a way as to feel its powerful strength propelling me forward.
Our 70th Anniversary Celebration this past Sunday was just one of those times. Standing in the middle of Summerall Chapel surrounded by a vast array of over 200 alumni, current students and family (including 3 Alumni Bishops!), I realized that it is the strength of Christ’s powerful visitation upon this campus in the days of cadet’s youth that propels St. Albans forward into the current day! And that realization was glorious! (For pics, click here)
We celebrated the Eucharist together and heard an inspiring sermon by the Rev. Robert Fain (’77) of Augusta encouraging us to be the Church in our society and the world. The witness of alumni, cadets, and friends of St. Albans encouraged us. And we enjoyed an incredible meal with testimonies from current and former cadets about the way Christ had met them through St. Alban’s at The Citadel.
Current cadets shared at the Celebration Lunch that they had renewed their faith in Christ at St. Alban’s chapel, grown in their leadership abilities, and had even found Christ for the first time. One cadet told the story that St. Alban’s sponsorship of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) allows him to worship and have fellowship with Christians once a week during the busy football season. Another cadet shared how she had deepened her ability to understand and apply the Scriptures through mentoring and small group times.
The Senior Warden of this year has shared his learning about true leadership through St. Albans. I have tried to use creative means to grow our cadets’ leadership abilities but we know that the learning lab for leadership is in the Battalions! His point, however, is that St. Albans provides the space necessary to reflect upon his leadership attempts and to compare that with the example of Christ. His term, familiar to the student vestry, is “Beta Tau”. This was created after our study of Philippians 2 that Christ “being in very nature God… took the form of a servant… and humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” If Christ is a template for leadership, then the starting point is his humble service – whether as a Knob, squad sergeant, or even an officer. This senior leader encourages all of us to take the attitude Christ demonstrated on his final day of ministry –to take up the Basin and the Towel (Beta Tau) and serve our friends… and even our enemies.
At the lunch, the stories flowed and the memories were fond. I was reminded again that St. Alban’s Chapel is uniquely positioned to reach this campus for Christ as we provide students with the opportunity to Know Christ and to move forward in leadership following Christ’s example.
I was also reminded that this ministry is not new, but like a mighty river it continues on. I felt a part of the vital stream as we processed down the aisle of the Chapel on that glorious morning of the 70th Anniversary Worship Service. I was humbled at the presence of generations of people that Christ had met, “in the days of their youth” through St. Alban’s Chapel. From Bishop Haynesworth of the “Lost Class” of 1944 through to our youngest Knobs, there is truly a long line of ministry that is going forward.
To keep this river of ministry moving forward, we need your help! As you know, The Citadel does not pay for the ministry of St. Alban’s Chapel. We receive all of our operational and program support from alumni, friends, and grants we receive. As the program grows dramatically, our needs have grown as well. I am serving a congregation that can never be self-supporting as the population of students cannot hold jobs and have very limited financial resources. This is the time for alumni, friends, and family to step up with resources to transform today’s cadets into tomorrow’s leaders in the Church and the world. This is one investment that will pay dividends far into the future—into eternity to be exact!
Would you consider supporting St. Alban’s this spring in one of these three ways?
1 – Become a St. Alban’s Fund Monthly Partner! As Diocesan resources are stretched thin, we are actively working to obtain the needed monthly funding of $10,000. If 140 alumni would commit to giving $72 (our number of years of service) per month through automatic donations – we would quickly have all of our basic expenses covered.
2 – St. Alban’s Associates. St. Alban’s Associates are a network of Citadel alumni, parents and friends who foster the development of Citadel cadets through the ministry of St. Alban’s Chapel. Every year, St. Alban’s Associates commit to give a minimum annual gift of $1,000 to the St. Alban’s Fund. This can be done as a one-time gift, monthly giving, or several smaller payments.
3 – Beta Tau Society. “Beta Tau” is our way of remembering the “basin and the towel” principle of humble, sacrificial leadership. Some of you may be called to make a sacrificial investment into the lives of these students . We don’t put an exact number on this giving, because we know that sacrificial giving is individual. For our family, that will be a gift of over $6,000 this coming year. For others it may be a larger amount or it may include a legacy or family foundation gift. I encourage you to prayerfully consider a sacrificial investment.
I remain completely humbled by the support we have received this year and in years past from alumni, parents and friends of St. Alban’s Chapel. Please join us foremost in your prayers for this ministry—for the students who are growing in their faith and those who are still questioning the Gospel. Join us as well in sharing the story of St. Alban’s with fellow alumni and others who may be interested.
As we seek to broaden our base of support to build a solid foundation for the future, we need you on our team. If you have any questions, suggestions, or connections you want to ask or help with, please don’t hesitate to call me or one of our board members. We’d love to talk with you! Now, more than ever, a place for the Gospel must be protected at the Citadel. Thank you for your new or ongoing support of this ministry.