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Bryan Clarke

As the face and founder of the Gracefinder ministry I wear several hats.

As a university chaplain I engage faculty, students and staff in spiritual conversations, linking academic matters and faith, and providing emergency support for situations such as suicide and stress.

My personal focus is on reaching out to anyone who needs spiritual encouragement, care, and support in the challenging years of university.

My affiliation, as a Presbyterian-Reformed ordained minister, defines the communities that the university directs me to support. Presbyterian means finding connectedness because we all need community and Reformed means our focus is on finding grace amidst messiness of life. The labels are there by university designation which I follow as part of an association of chaplains.

My own designation tends to be Christian in the tradition of Mere Christianity. We are not in a competition; rather, with thousands of students we go wherever we’re needed to provide community and Christian hope. We do this through building communities such as our weekly undergraduate and graduate groups, and a drop-in area that students have access to during campus hours, where we provide tea and the opportunity for conversation.

I attend university functions that provide access to and relationships with staff and faculty.

We offer workshops on student stress, sexual harassment, suicide prevention, campus crisis response, etc.

I teach university courses on Health and Wellness, Philosophical Ethics, Theology and Film, Introduction to Philosophy.

Lisa Clarke

I remember back to my own University days. During those years I joined campus groups because I was longing for community. I was several hours away from home and was really missing my family. When I joined Bryan on campus several years ago, there was an overwhelming sense that this same longing for community and connectedness was a deep need on the University of Alberta campus as well.

God has equipped me with the gift of hospitality. I love to prepare food for people, so we have several weekly dinners and outreach barbecues throughout the year to feed and bless students. My desire is to give students a sense of a “home away from home”. Sometimes the care I provide is in the form of a weekly coffee or a lunch with each of the students I meet so I can encourage and give hope to them, and to provide some stability while they are at the U of A. I want to let them know there is someone who is praying for them and who is available to them while they are pursuing their studies. My prayer is that each student that I come in contact with knows that, for the time they are with us, they are loved by us as leaders showing the love of Christ in our conversations, studies, and outreach on campus.

I am also involved with the International Centre on campus. I provide a dessert drop-in on Wednesdays. This often continues over the summer with students I have mentored throughout the year.

I must say I find it hard to say goodbye to the students at the end of their term; this side of ministry difficult. But, while I don’t like having to constantly let go of people I really begin to care about, I am learning the importance of planting. We don't have long to cultivate the seeds we plant but we are a small part of the process. I am so thankful that God sees each one of these students even after they’re gone from my life, and I can continue to pray for them even when they are no longer with us. I trust that the Lord will bring others into their lives who will continue to teach and encourage each one of them.

Aside from these two main areas of ministry, I am involved behind the scenes where I help to plan outreach events with other chaplains, and I constantly pray for my husband as he makes many critical decisions, and for my girls as I love and guide them. I also pray for balance as I seek to love Jesus more, while serving my family, campus, community, and friends.

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