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A full-time friend: Common Ministry takes on new director

The+Rev.+Jessica+Stokes+takes+notes+at+the+Community+Congregational+Church+of+Christ+in+Pullman%2C+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+9%2C+2014.
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A full-time friend: Common Ministry takes on new director

The Rev. Jessica Stokes takes notes at the Community Congregational Church of Christ in Pullman, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

The Rev. Jessica Stokes takes notes at the Community Congregational Church of Christ in Pullman, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

The Rev. Jessica Stokes takes notes at the Community Congregational Church of Christ in Pullman, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

The Rev. Jessica Stokes takes notes at the Community Congregational Church of Christ in Pullman, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

BY HOLLY LANE | Evergreen reporter

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With the new school year comes a new chapter in the book of the Common Ministry at WSU, and to kick off both a new year and a new location, the ministry has welcomed the Rev. Jessica Stokes as its new director and campus pastor.

Stokes, an ordained Baptist minister, has a vast background in various forms of ministry.

“I just love college students, and I love college ministry,” Stokes said. “I love the hope that college students have to better the world around them as well as to better themselves.”

Prior to her position at the Common Ministry, Stokes has participated in study abroad programs in India, Israel and Egypt.

“I got to drive a rickshaw in Mumbai,” Stokes said with a smile. She was also in Cairo during one of the Gaza missile attacks.

She said she has many stories from her time overseas and described her experience in Cairo as humbling.

“Her background will be reassuring,” said Lisa Soranaka, office manager for the Common Ministry. “She’s someone who has a vision.”

Stokes, who is from Auburn, Ala., and studied at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, said college is an exciting time and place in which students often find their true passions.

The Common Ministry at WSU has settled in at its new location in the Community Congregational United Church of Christ at 525 N.E. Campus Street, across from the Farmhouse fraternity.

Stokes officially started in her position on Sept. 1.

“Well, it’s nice to have someone else in the office,” Soranaka said, mentioning she has often become lonely in the empty office during the day.

“She’s got a really nice, fresh perspective,” Soranaka said of Stokes. “She’s got a lot of one-on-one mentoring, therapy experience.”

The Common Ministry hasn’t always had the same person available to students every time they come in. A few were “floating in and out trying to fill that need” for a director, she said.

“It’s going to be exciting for students to have someone who can be there for them all the time,” Soranaka said.

Michael Kindle, a junior studying material science and engineering, is an Interfaith MythBusters officer who said having a director will be helpful to their purpose.

“Relationships require consistency,” Kindle said.

The program will benefit from a full-time director and will allow for more deliberate work, he said.

Kindle, who has been with Interfaith for two years, said this year there will be a bigger focus on welcoming new students into the program.

Every Thursday from 5-7 p.m., students of all faiths and beliefs are invited to Interfaith MythBusters, which includes a free dinner as well as a safe environment for students to hang out and talk to people, Stokes said.

“College is a good time to understand where you stand,” Kindle said.

He said he encourages students who want to better understand themselves and others to come and check out the program.

One of Stokes’ first acts as director was to create a Twitter account for the ministry.

“She seems kind of passionate and enthusiastic about working here and working with the students,” Kindle said.

Stokes, a Christian, said she’s eager to meet with any and all WSU students, regardless of their faith.

She said she encourages students to reach out to her even if they just want to go for a walk or get coffee.

“That’s why I moved out here,” she said.

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A full-time friend: Common Ministry takes on new director