Prayer for the Victims

Prayer for the Victims, the grieving families, those who are healing from being wounded in the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon.  Prepared by Glorya Albertini for the Campus Ministry Meeting Monday, October 5th

Jesus, we thank you this day and for us being able to gather here. We praise you for your faithfulness, your mercy, your everlasting kindness.  Today we pray for those who have been affected by the tragedy that occurred in Oregon.  We pray for the faculty, families, and friends of the victims, but especially for the students.  We ask for comfort in this time of distress. We ask that you mend the hearts of the hurting and broken hearted.  We pray that forgiveness would dwell in their hearts even now.  Let them choose love over any bitterness and resentment.  We ask that you would exchange their brokenness for your wholeness, their sorrow for your joy and their troubles for your peace.  We pray healing over them all and we ask that you would let love bloom in the community during this time of adversity.  Remind them that even in the midst of the storm your joy is their strength. Amen

Franklin University Commencement: Invocation and Benediction


Ahh!! Soon to step up these stairs to Graduate.: It has been step by step has it not? Blessings!

We gather here with you and unite in prayerful energy to our Creator God who is with you in faith and brings you to this moment.

Let us all unite in joy with administration, faculty, family, friends, our city and our world and help each other graduate from fear, loss, anxiety and step up to peace and understanding.

I ask you to pause and imagine a place you hope to be a place of peace…family, community, world…what you might choose…

And Let us pray…

Living God, among us today. Renew Us! With these soon to be graduates, make us channels of your peace.
Where there is hatred…let us sow your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon.
Where there is doubt, true faith in you.
Dwell among as we celebrate the achievements of these
Franklin University Students… graduate into renewed
life, joy, peace…Amen


Congratulations and may God always bless you and keep you—you who have made great sacrifices to be here today…
May God’s face shine upon you.
May you find strength, the consolation of home and companionship in family, place of employment, as you live out your talents and careers.
May you be blessed with a sense of humor, resiliency and come back should you struggle and fail at something;
May you be blessed with character that is long-lasting, sustaining and rewarded with peace, joy, love, honesty and integrity.
And may you be gifted with companions on the journey.
May this University continue to be blessed with students like you who give it life and purpose. Amen.

The Work of Forgiveness Is Hard

One of the gifts of my life is to be among the Church Women United as Chaplain. We represent a number of religious denominations and are united in our diversity through serving others, especially women and children. We gather in prayer and community as exemplified through the celebration of the 100th Anniversary celebration of Church Women United in May. My world of ministry came together as three students who are part of the Downtowners Campus Ministry have received the Young Church Women United award for their giving to those in need.
On this last June 17th, at the CWU Board meeting at the Centenary United Methodist Church, I led our prayer and reflection with Acts 10 where Peter said to Cornelius who went down on his knees before Peter: “Get up, Cornelius, I am only human.” The women were filled with amazing grace in their reflections and sharing of their being only human—challenged with loving and forgiving. In the midst of the conversation, one member remarked that this community of women was as much Church to her as her denomination. Love and forgiveness was the sharing of the afternoon. That night—only a few hours later—a deranged young man murdered 9 members of Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, during Bible Study. He said later that they were so kind to him he almost changed his mind. The reaction of the members of the Church, as reported by the major news networks, was expressed in their love and forgiveness for the murderer. His name is Dylan Roof. “I am angry, but I love and forgive him,” said a woman whose loved one was murdered.
I was moved deeply by the Church members’ response and wanted to be among these members of Mother Emmanuel. In August my husband and I flew to Charleston. We spent close to two hours with a member of the Congregation—Willie. It was a prayer walk with a man who would have been murdered with the other victims, but left the church that night because he had worked all day and was hungry and needed to get something to eat. He had helped the woman responsible for the Bible Study that night to prepare Mark 4. It was her first time. She had never prepared a Bible Study before.
Being among the people of that Church that August day was an experience of being surrounded by love and forgiveness. Yes, they admitted, they felt anger. But love and forgiveness was their strongest feeling and prayer. I was asked to pray at the door where the murderer entered and walked out from. I prayed the Psalm 121:8: “May the Lord guard your coming in and your going out both now and forever.” I struggled to pray for the murderer and name him by name. I asked God to do that for me in my weakness. But my strength came through those who surrounded me. That day I took with me the loving and forgiving spirit of the Church Women United.

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Pope Francis declared September 1st to be a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

In his letter Laudato Si’ he calls us to be present to our beautiful world with care, awe, respect.

Each day let us together to do what we can through prayer and action in care for our environment, causing us to be more conscious of the gift of Mother Earth. And let us pray for one another, each of us being a gift of God’s creation!

“God saw that everything he had made was very good.” The Book of Genesis in the Bible 1:31

A Gift of Service

A colleague minister approached me personally and asked me if I could find someone who could do rap to help enliven his Christian youth group. I was pondering that recently as our Campus Ministry served a meal at Faith Mission’s homeless shelter. These men have such great spirit. I bet someone knows how to rap, I thought to myself as the evening began.

Before we served dinner, James, a Capital Law student with our ministry, shared a reading from the Gospel of John. The account tells the story of Thomas’ struggle to believe in the resurrected Jesus. One of the men, Richard, reflected with us on how hard it is to trust, to believe in anything, let alone the Risen Jesus! We all pitched in with stories of struggle around faith and wanting to believe. A bond was formed among us even before we served dinner. Throughout dinnertime the men were connecting with us, thanking us. It was beautiful. I kept thinking. I bet someone knows how to rap. Following clean-up, some stayed behind with us. I called out into the dining hall: “Who can do rap?” One of the young men called back: “He does!” pointing across the room to a man in his 50’s. The man was modest and rather shy for just a moment, but then burst out with a spontaneous perfectly rhymed and rhythmic song around students, studying, working, serving at the Mission, believing in Jesus. We started dancing. I heard a Mt. Carmel student call out: “Go for it, Dr. O!” Jesus is Risen. And I want to get back to my colleague. I have a rapper!

In Retreat — Students Renewed in Faith

“Be still, and know that I am God…”. “Cease striving and know that I am God…” “Let go (of your concerns). Then you will know that I am God…” “Be in awe and know that I am God.”

Lanie, a student on our recent weekend Downtowners Campus Ministry winter retreat brings to life these words of Psalm 46 written 2600 years ago: “This experience has been absolutely amazing. As a new freshman, I’ll admit I was hesitant to join campus ministry on this retreat, but the spirit moved me and I am sure glad it did. This retreat has been full of joy and insight and relaxation. Experiencing God’s beauty through our nature walk through a winter wonderland was such a blessing. Living the stressful life of a student, it is very difficult to take time to enjoy God’s beautiful creation, but this retreat helped me to take a deep breath of fresh crisp winter air….The refreshing views and conversations I experienced have surely helped me recharge my faith. I am truly grateful for this experience and I am so happy to be so excited about my faith again!”

ViJay, another student on the retreat reflects: “The setting (of Pilgrim Hills in Amish country) is the perfect environment to think about God’s love and think about how I can serve.”

Our ministry has been retreating on these beautiful lands of the United Church of Christ for twelve years to served many a stressed-out student looking for rest, prayer, faith, companionship, fun. God is discovered in gazing at the stars and planets in the winter sky, in conversations about faith, meaning, relationships, in the fun of roasting s’mores around a bonfire late into the night. God’s love and companionship meets up with us in the surprise of stillness!

Caring For One Another

When I witness students caring for one another, it “warms the cockles of me’ heart” as the Irish would say.  It is often that these same students serve the homeless, residential and working poor through our Disciple Students in the City at places such as The Church in the Garden, Lawrence Haven Food Pantry and others. Research outlines what we know from experience: We are happiest when we are connected and serving others. It has been named the “Helper’s High.” Jesus promises in the Gospel of Matthew that as we give—as we cast our bread upon the waters—it comes back to us.  It is not always easy to get over the hurdle, to get beyond ourselves. Students testify we need each other in community.  The joy of the Downtowners is the blessing of community and friendship. Our mission is to be a caring presence in the name of the Gospel to make life sacred for all people.  A student who graduated this last May and worked with us for four years wrote: “I wouldn’t have been able to experience all of this and enjoy the fellowship without the Downtowners.  Thank you for everything.”   Blessings for your kindnesses.  May they warm the cockles of your heart!