by Josh Hosler, EPIC Chaplain, Associate Priest for Christian Formation at St. Paul’s

2016-09-17-12-39-04On Saturday, September 17, available EPIC members got together with Jim Schmotzer, a St. Paul’s parishioner and veteran campus minister who also helps lead workshops for groups that are trying to clarify their mission and purpose. Together we talked through the history of EPIC, assessed what our group is like today, and imagined what our future might be like.

Most importantly, we didn’t just identify our programs—the stuff we do. We also identified how these activities make us feel—how they connect us with God and with each other. Our experiences of EPIC include the following:

  • Comfortable to newcomers
  • Able to be spontaneous
  • No strings attached
  • Open but intentional invitation
  • Casual fun, not just religious
  • You can be yourself
  • Open exploration (of faith) with a safety net; not a rigid structure; room for mistakes
  • Learning, growing, maturing relationally
  • Christian friendship
  • Learning about the Episcopal Church and Christianity
  • Celebrating and honoring members
  • LGBTQ-friendly

Whatever programs we plan for the future, these are the qualities we most appreciate about EPIC. Our planned activities should help us continue to help people experience EPIC in these ways.

A few strategies we identified for making these connections included:

  • Working together (not having a program handed to us by someone in authority)
  • Planning … but flexibly
  • Inviting and incorporating new people
  • Ritualizing departure when people leave the group

We arrived at a phrase we liked: EPIC is “a safe place to deconstruct and rebuild faith.” This led to some extended word-smithing. Finally, we arrived at a proposed purpose statement for EPIC:

EPIC is a community of college students rooted in the Episcopal Church who are questioning and rebuilding the experience of a faith-filled life.

So that’s a quick-and-easy way to describe who we are. What does this sentence mean to you? How do your experiences in EPIC support it? If you’re a potential new member of the group, what does this sentence evoke? Does it make you want to hang out with us? What do you expect a group like this might do together?


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