When I began classes for my library science master’s degree at UK in the fall of 2018, I had no plans to join any campus ministry group. I had attended a Catholic high school, so I imagined joining any campus ministry to be like sitting through the daily religion classes I remembered. I did not particularly enjoy those classes. However, while working as a student director for WRFL, UK’s student-run radio station, I attended various club fairs around UK’s campus during the Fall 2019 semester, and first met St. Augustine’s Campus Minister, Rob Coulston, at one such event.
Admittedly it was the free candy Rob laid out on the St. A’s table that first drew me into conversation with him, and the fact that WRFL’s table was next to St.A’s, but I enjoyed talking with him since we were able to connect over our mutual interest in ancient languages. I soon found myself seeking him out at other fairs, just to say hi and see how he was doing. After a few fairs and many more pieces of candy, Rob finally convinced me to come to a bible study he was hosting at the St. A’s chapel. There I was presented with my own copy of the ubiquitous and well-loved St. A’s blue bible (essentially a mass market New Revised Standard bible with Apocrypha) Rob mostly read from, and I had a chance to meet other students who were a part of the St. A’s community.
I very quickly learned about the type of campus ministry Rob oversees, which was not at all like the religion classes I remembered from high school. Rob not only discusses the words that are on the page in the text, but also those that aren’t. During my time as a part of St. A’s, I learned the words of the texts, sure, but more importantly, I believe, I learned the context in which those words were written, why specific words words were chosen in various translations, and a greater understanding of what those who wrote the words intended. This was not like any other bible study or religion class I had been a part of or attended.
I also found more of a home in St. A’s than I was expecting, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was evident from the first time I met the other students involved at St. A’s that they truly did care about each other, as they took the time to ask after each other, offer encouraging words before exams, and check-in after tough weeks. I have spent much of my time within the St. A’s community interacting with Rob and the other students via GoogleMeet bible study sessions on Thursday and Sunday evenings, along with other multi-hour long Zoom retreats, but only a couple in person events. While there are those who say human connection is suffering during the pandemic, I believe I have found a way in which my connections were able to grow through such a kind and caring community that Rob leads at St. A’s.