Student ministries expand across SPU campus

A generous gift from two SPU alumni is helping University Ministries do more to reach residential students, commuter students, and upper-division students.

The $125,000 grant allowed University Ministries to hire six additional residential student ministry coordinators and an additional lead residence hall ministry coordinator. A portion of the anonymous gift also allowed University Ministries to assist students who live off campus — mostly juniors and seniors — who often find it more difficult to develop a community without residence halls.

“This grant gave us the opportunity to create two new SMCs positions that are focused on commuter students,” said University Chaplain Lisa Ishihara. Commuter students in the SMC roles now receive campus parking passes that help them to be present on campus. They also receive a small stipend and block meal plans so they can host commuter students for meals in the cafeteria or around campus.

During COVID, University Ministries offered things like grab-n-go lunches or grab-n-go grocery bags to assist students, but face-to-face ministry suffered during the pandemic.

“We are offering lunches every Tuesday and Bible Studies and more opportunities for students to know they are known and seen and loved,” Chaplain Lisa said. “Face-to-face ministry is still the way to go. People want to be connected to other people, and they want to know someone cares about them.”

In the fall, the residential SMC team hosted a “Hot Ones” event for students, patterned after the YouTube show that features “hot questions and even hotter wings” with celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay, Keegan-Michael Key, and Jordan Peele. University Ministries offered hot wings and SPU theology professors and staff, ready to take “hot” questions from students.

University Ministries created t-shirts for commuter students to foster a sense of community and belonging. The team also hosted an event for students to receive Bibles and paint them. In the winter quarter, upperclassmen and commuter students decorated clay mirrors as part of a reflection on what the Lord wants to cultivate within each person.

Additionally, the grant to University Ministries will help fund musical concerts of Christian artists and bring dynamic, new speakers to campus for the Tuesday morning chapels held every other week.

“For our students of faith, we want them to go deeper in their faith. For students who are not Christians, we want to build connections with them and have relationships with them,” said Chaplain Lisa. “This grant really enables us to increase the number of touch points with students, which has been super exciting. And that’s been thanks to our donors. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.”

overhead photo of students holding hands in prayer

Ministry programs on campus:

All University Chapels are held every other Tuesday at 11:10 a.m. at the First Free Methodist Church. Follow @spuchapel on Instagram for chapel speakers and programs.

Group is held every other Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Hill Hall Lobby. Group offers a time of songs, prayer, scripture, art, and short reflections from campus pastors and student leaders around a specific theme.

Residential Small Groups take place primarily in residence halls. Students can sign up for these small groups through student ministry coordinators or by emailing University Ministries.

  • Monday 7 p.m. Men’s group for studying scripture and talking about life together
  • Monday 7:15 p.m. Open to all for building relationships and growing together, often through games.
  • Wednesdays 7:30 p.m. bi-weekly. Open to all for coffee & tea as well as good conversations about life.
  • Thursdays 2 p.m. Open to all with focus on prayer and learning different prayer styles to deepen our connection with God.
  • Thursdays 7 p.m. bi-weekly. Open to all for building community through fellowship under the roof of Christ.
  • Thursdays 7 p.m. Open to all for a creative time together while talking about life & faith.

Catholic Connections is held every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. (Contact Umin for location.)

John Perkins Center Learn and Serve Immersive Engagement will take students on a 3-day educational immersion experience in El Paso, Texas, March 17–21, 2024, with Christian Community Development organization, Abara.

Winter 2024 Volunteer Opportunities

For more information about volunteer opportunities, email

  • Bridge Care Center – unhoused neighbors community closet/resource center in Ballard. Volunteer opportunity 1 time a month on the 3rd Saturday of the month from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.
  • World Relief – refugee services and support in Kent and on the SPU campus. Volunteer opportunities vary.
  • Empowering Youth & Family Outreach – urban youth after-school program and mentorship in South Seattle. Volunteering is every Monday from 2:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Neighborhood House – after-school homework help and mentorship for refugee and urban youth West Seattle. Volunteering is every Thursday afternoon from 4-7 p.m.
  • Aurora Commons – unhoused and underserved neighbors programs and community center in Greenlake. Volunteering is Thursday mornings from 7:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Emerald City Commons – afterschool program, homework help, and mentorship for refugee youth and children in South Seattle. Volunteering is every Monday afternoon from 2:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Community Dinners – weekly meal and community building for unhoused and under-resourced neighbors in South Lake Union. Volunteering is Fridays from 4:20-6:45 p.m.
  • El Centro de La Raza – Community resource center, advocacy, student programs, and housing for the King County Latino community and other neighbors in the Beacon Hill area. Volunteering opportunities are in-person and remote. In-person will be Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m-12 p.m.

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