On Wednesday, Sept. 29, Matt Ramsay stood outside the Ezra Lehman Memorial Library, coffee in hand, to answer any questions that students passing asked.
As a minister partnered with the Coalition for Campus Outreach (CCO), Ramsay explained that his job is to ask questions, make sense of the world and help students to do the same. As a 2008 graduate of Shippensburg University himself, Ramsay said he started to get connected with campus ministry while he was on campus.
From a young age, Ramsay had a lot of questions about life that he did not feel were answered sufficiently by his parents. The “working for the weekend” mentality felt hollow, and he could not understand why the only time you were supposed to enjoy life was retirement. So he turned to religion. His family had no strong ties to a religion, so he sampled a “little of everything.” Ramsay investigated Buddhism, witchcraft, Islam and everything under the sun to answer his questions. Some things made sense, but others brought up more questions.
For a while, he said he rejected Christianity, as he believed the Bible to have too many inconsistencies to be a strong foundation. Naively, he embarked on a month-long journey to disprove the Bible, he said. It took him three years, and by the end he found more consistencies than flaws. In turn, he gave the Bible a chance to speak to him, “and it did.”
After graduating from Shippensburg with a bachelor’s degree in history secondary education, he began working with CCO at Juniata College. Campus ministries generally partner with a church or a business, he said. While at Juniata, he was also employed as a manager for a coffee shop. This dual experience is what inspired for him to start his own coffee company, Denim Coffee, when he returned to work part-time with SU’s campus ministry.
Ramsay’s favorite part of being a campus minister is being able to work with college students. “Forty percent of students will experience extreme loneliness on campus, and that was before COVID,” he said. By partnering with SU, he gets to help students find ways to utilize their gifts and talents to answer their own questions and get connected to their lives. “Direction is primary, distance is secondary [when making plans for life],” Ramsay said. By assisting students in setting their direction, he can help students on the path to happiness.
If individuals have any questions for Matt Ramsay, he encourages them to reach out to him via email at Mattramz@gmail.com or come say “hi” whenever he is out and about. Answering the questions students have outside of the classroom is fundamental in development, he explained. “You are making habits now that will form habits for the rest of your life,” Ramsay said. He wants to help students form good ones.