Cornell Alumni Passionate about Christian Leadership Development
For Cornellians Erik and Trasey Codrington, extending the love of Jesus Christ to students in the Ivy League reflects the grace they have received from God themselves. Erik and Trasey met as undergraduates at Cornell in the 1980s, when the university was what they would describe as a "spiritual desert."
"I was a Christian when I went off to college, but I didn't have a strong foundation," Erik '86 explains. "What little I had was being eroded by the academic and social environment around me." Neither one connected with a campus ministry, but both were welcomed into the Greek system.
Against this backdrop, Trasey arrived at a fraternity "Christmas Tea" formal on the arm of her date; Erik arrived separately with his. When they were introduced, sparks flew. Trasey '85 shares, "He was the smartest, funniest guy I'd ever met." For Erik, it was simple: "I was smitten." Trasey was intrigued by the sharp contrast Erik made to other guys she knew at Cornell. "I didn't know anyone who defined themselves as a Christian, and reflected that faith the way he did," she said. The difference appealed to her. "I wasn't exactly walking a straight line with Jesus at the time, but I'm thankful I shared my faith with Trasey, because it has led to a wonderful life together," recalls Erik.
Today Erik, an executive of an international bank based in New York City, serves on Christian Union's board of trustees. He and Trasey make periodic, informal visits to the schools where Christian Union serves, but play down their involvement. They like it that way – students are relaxed and seem to share on a more intimate level. "We love to worship with students and encourage them," Trasey says. "Now I can picture their faces and personalities, and it shapes my prayers for them."
The path to their highly engaged relationship with the ministry wends its way through God's work in Erik and Trasey's lives, an intense journey the young couple little expected when they wed. After Erik's stint in the U.S. Navy, they supported one another through grad school; he earned his MBA from Duke and began a career in finance, while Trasey earned her MBA from William and Mary and embarked on a career in telecom. But when Trasey became pregnant, life took a sharp turn.
They discovered Trasey had a rare condition threatening her life and that of her unborn daughter. Mercifully, their precious daughter, Victoria, came into the world alive and healthy. Trasey, however, sustained physical damage and faced a tough road to recovery. To face the grueling therapy that would ultimately allow her to walk again, Trasey motivated herself with dark humor: "I imagined I was training for the Olympics." Through this difficult, uncertain, and humbling time they found God developing in them profound empathy and a deeper capacity to serve those hard hit by physical and spiritual suffering.
Wanting to be used more by God in service, the Codringtons connected with Christian Union. Developing Christian leaders in the Ivy League struck a chord. Erik and Trasey were troubled by the lack of resources available to campus ministries. "Without something like Christian Union to give me good Bible teaching, and the reinforcement of Christian friends, I was treading water at Cornell, from a spiritual perspective. I want the generations that follow to have better options and grow in their faith through these crucial years," Erik shares.
The couple also shares Christian Union's broader mission. "Students at Ivy League schools are an unreached people group," they said. "The universities are, for the most part, working to convert them to an anti-Christian or post-Christian world view." Future leaders who would exert influence over society need to learn, "to live and work in accordance with God's unchanging Word." Otherwise, Erik notes, "we'll have more of the spiritually 'blind leading the blind.'"
Through Christian Union, the couple channels their concern in many ways, from Erik's service on the board of trustees, to Trasey mentoring students at Princeton, and together visiting with ministry fellows to encourage them. Erik remarks, "Our personal and financial involvement has expanded as we've been encouraged by the evidences of Christian Union's success, for instance, having almost 10 percent of Princeton undergraduates involved in Bible courses."
The couple is pleased that Christian Union has been able to expand to all eight of the Ivy League universities, including Cornell in 2012-13. Today, the Codringtons divide their time between Chatham, New Jersey, and Houston, Texas, while their daughter completes her studies at Texas A&M. They continue to pay visits to the Christian Union ministries. "I wish everyone knew what a joy it is to get involved," Erik comments.
"People have more capacity to serve than they think. Just look at us: I have a demanding job, long daily commute, frequent business travel, and other board-level commitments, yet the Lord has opened the door for us to contribute to Christian Union in a variety of ways."
Erik and Trasey are heartened to see their energetic support and fervent prayers, combined with those of many others, bearing fruit. "Christian Union's approach to the Ivy League is working!" Erik affirms, "The Lord is pouring out blessing and grace."
Join with the Codringtons in providing students with the Christian mentorship they need to grow as godly leaders. You can donate online or call 1-609-688-1700, extension 915.