Dear Friends in Christ,
It has been my privilege to serve as the resident chaplain at St. Anselm’s Episcopal Chapel Center at USF for the last four years. In those four “short” years, the center has been renovated, and has firmly re-established its Episcopal identity. As our visibility increased throughout the USF community, curious students have been drawn to explore the possibility of deepening, or beginning, a relationship with Christ through worship and teaching in our rich, ancient Episcopal/Anglican tradition.
By providing weekly traditional worship and shared meals; gathering weekly for a mutual fascination with the theological themes of the television show, “The Walking Dead;” and providing sound Christian teaching, integrating faith into the unique, day-to-day, experiences of college students, the ministry grew from being completely shut down, with no students, to a vibrant student fellowship.
Nurturing authentic relationships takes time and presence. Living at the center made it possible for me to be present in the lives of our students as they explored their God-given gifts highlighted in music concerts, theatre plays, art shows and student leadership platforms. One of my many ministry highlights was the baptism of one of our faithful students in the chapel—my first baptism as a new priest!
Additionally, we can celebrate the newly established partnerships with the wider USF community, including President Steven C. Currall, the USF Counseling Center, the Office of the Dean of Students (for three consecutive years, I was invited to give the invocation for the Annual Student Memorial), the USF Black Faculty & Staff Association, the USF Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, student fraternal organizations and the USF Police Department.
St. Anselm’s has been my home since 2016, and there are many things that I will miss: peaceful walks around the beautiful grounds; conversations with the USFPD and their very personalized attention to ensure my safety; and the friendships of the sanitation team and the post office staff. I am grateful to God for their care.
In the midst of ongoing University-wide pandemic restrictions, which have directly impacted student engagement, St. Anselm’s welcomes a new chapter and a new chaplain, The Rev. Deacon Scott Nonken. Deacon Scott, on several occasions, served with me in worship and as co-teacher. Deacon Scott has a servant’s heart with a missional focus, necessary for shepherding this ministry into God’s unfolding vision. St. Anselm’s, and the USF community, will be blessed by Deacon Scott’s presence and gifts.
I leave this ministry deeply grateful to Bishop Dabney Smith, the Diocese of Southwest Florida, and the many churches that continue to pray for, and support, the life and legacy of St. Anselm’s. These four years of service have been a life-giving and awe-inspiring dance with the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Deacon Scott, for saying, “Yes,” to the call to serve this precious ministry. With God’s help, may the dance continue.
The Rev. Adrienne R. Hymes
16th Chaplain and Program Director (2016-2020)