EPIC is a community of college students rooted in the Episcopal Church who are questioning and rebuilding the experience of a faith-filled life.
EPIC is a campus club and a ministry of the Episcopal Church among the students of Western Washington University (WWU) and Whatcom Community College. We are an extension of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bellingham (2117 Walnut St.), and we also welcome students from Bellingham Technical College and Northwest Indian College.
What do the members of EPIC do?
Students go to church at St. Paul’s on Sunday mornings and meet on campus as a club on Sunday evenings. Once a month, students gather for Taizé Prayer at St. Paul’s and are then treated to a home-cooked meal at a parishioner’s house. Students form community and engage in the various ministries of the Church.
EPIC is a community of college students …
Most campus ministries are based on a campus; EPIC is based at St. Paul’s. Many EPIC members make church attendance a higher priority than on-campus meetings—but most manage to make it to both. At every age, our worship together is the primary means of our formation.
… rooted in the Episcopal Church …
Long before incoming freshmen set foot on campus, we hear about many of them from their home congregations. Some have already established their gifts for ministry in the parish and the diocese. To these core Episcopalians, we add other students: curious young people who are looking for a new church and who may never have heard the word “Episcopal” in their lives. Finally, there are a number of “EPIC-adjacent” folks: roommates, curious agnostics and atheists, and members of other Christian clubs who occasionally like to hang out with us.
… who are questioning …
Young adults are in the process of figuring out what to do with the faith that was given to them in childhood. That doesn’t just mean deciding whether to keep Jesus or chuck him! It means examining some aspects of their worldview for the first time, deciding which voices in the world are worthy of trust, and choosing values on which to build their futures. Some are fleeing from toxic forms of religion, while others have always found their church to be a place to bloom.
At EPIC, we try to meet people where they are, affirming the gifts of faith they were given in childhood while asserting that no question or wondering is off-limits. Diversity is to be honored, and irreverence can be enjoyed. Sometimes “adulting” means knocking down entire walls before building again on the foundation that remains.
… and rebuilding …
As students, EPIC members are eager to learn, and so we place a heavy focus on Christian formation. We divide our Sunday evenings into series, sometimes reading books of the Bible out loud to each other and then discussing them; sometimes analyzing a theological topic; sometimes addressing pieces of our personal spiritual lives.
Recently EPIC has read the Book of Leviticus, constructed a Christian sexual ethic, blogged about books and spiritual experiences, and begun to draft Rules of Life.
EPIC students are also encouraged to take part in Adult Formation offerings at St. Paul’s, including Journey, our catechumenal process. In the past few years at St. Paul’s, seven college students have been confirmed or received or have formally reaffirmed their baptismal vows.
… the experience …
American churches routinely group people into age-based silos. This practice has its place, since younger people do generally prefer the company of their own age group. But for young adults, EPIC serves as a bridge to the congregation and the wider church in its many generations. One recent graduate recounts a time when she was under tremendous stress in choosing a major … until an 80-year-old parishioner shared with her how many jobs he had held in his long career.
EPIC members also look forward to the annual Province VIII campus ministry event, which brings students and chaplains together from the entire West. For some, this is the highlight of the year: learning how other campus ministries function and getting to know other faithful young Episcopalians.
… of a faith-filled life.
EPIC forms Christian disciples! Students are regularly encouraged to take on a ministry at St. Paul’s: they have served in childcare, choir, altar guild, Sunday school, on committees, and on the vestry. At St. Paul’s, Bellingham, college students are pledging, serving, listening, and growing in faith.
To support EPIC financially, make a gift to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and earmark it as a Special Offering.