Chaplains and others offering campus ministry around the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles gathered Tuesday at St. Paul’s Commons, Echo Park, early in a fateful week. When we began planning this summit early this year with diocesan coordinator the Rev. Dr. Glenn Libby, we weren’t expecting the nationwide Gaza demonstrations. Just hours after the conference, our chaplains were back on campus, including Deacons Christie Mossman and Jeanne Roe Smith at UCLA, embodying a peaceful presence as violence escalated.

Students’ idealism, food and housing insecurity, and emotional and spiritual needs were all on the table during our morning and lunchtime meeting as those providing ministry at UCLA, UC Irvine, Riverside, and Santa Barbara, and USC offered site reports. The Very Rev. Betsy Hooper-Rosebrook collected email addresses and talked about her ministry as our first dean of chaplains. Our keynoter, Dr. Varun Soni, USC’s dean of religious and spiritual life for 16 years, gave us a flavor of life on campus these days and movingly called us all to be part of what he called upstream solutions to the spikes in anxiety and hopelessness experts report that undergraduates experience in a politically and digitally fraught age. Canon Gail Urquidi assisted cheerfully with arrangements.

Staff colleagues and I were listening in, including on behalf of the 2025 budget process. We were conscious of the four-year institutions and especially the community colleges where diocesan ministry doesn’t yet reach. And we counted ourselves blessed to be among those offering a ministry of presence on campuses in crisis.