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Switch to Forum Live View Campus Ministry Takes a Hit
3 years ago  ::  May 14, 2011 - 8:29AM #1
tawonda
Posts: 4,367
I have friends who are ELCA pastors involved in Lutheran Campus Ministry, and they've been dismayed to learn that plans are underway in Chicago to cut the LCM budget by almost 40 percent. They feel as if LCM is being treated as the unwanted stepchild of ministry, when in fact it serves a very important role, not only in serving/supporting Lutheran students at colleges and universities around the country but in raising up new pastors and lay leaders whose spirituality has been informed by that LCM experience.

I know that's certainly true in my life. My involvement in LCM grounded me back in my college days and, I believe, helped bring me back to Christianity after I fell away in my 30's. And I remember almost a dozen fellow students, in our LCM in the years I was involved, winding up in seminary.

But LCM is one of those ministries that tends to fly under the radar of most congregations. I doubt that more than three people in my congregation even know that there is such a thing as Lutheran Campus Ministry. And I suppose it's hard, in congregations whose members haven't gone through a university experience, not only to describe what an important ministry this is but to ask people to contribute to its continuing health.

What are your thoughts on this? I'm very, very sad to think that students will be losing this spiritual resource because The Powers That Be seem not to think that it's very important.
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3 years ago  ::  May 14, 2011 - 10:17AM #2
Eoconnorntep
Posts: 85

I know that I got a lot out of my LCM experience. I would describe it as te point at which the faith I recieved at Baptism began to mean something to me personally.  I also know that it is difficult for Campus Ministry to support itself.  After all, the principal participants (they're not 'members' for some reason I forget) are at a lifetime low point for income.


However, I can accept the posssibility that the ELCA may be right in suggesting that more LCMs should be located in and staffed by volunteers from neighboring congregations. I think that, if that's the direction the eLCA wants to go, it should be more actively supporting those congregations and doing more to determine which campuses it works for.  In general, whether it's congregation based or not, an LCM needs to be within walking or campus-bus distance of its university.  Most college students have cars, but they frequently have reduced access to their cars, especially if they live in the dorms.


Campus ministries also work best, in my experience, on college student's schedules.  I am not sure how this would match up with a congregation, where activities tend to focus on Sunday morning/early Wednesday evening.

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3 years ago  ::  May 14, 2011 - 4:37PM #3
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

My experience was unique because I was able to divide my time between two Lutheran campus groups -- at the time I was LCMS "from home," and the LCMS campus chapel was very near my dorm, so that was my spiritual home base; but I also became part of Lutheran Student Movement and a folk worship group, both of which were a joint effort (those were the days!) between my congregation and the ALC/LCA church on the other side of campus.


In my perception the ALC/LCA church felt more like my home church because of the age diversity of the membership...on the other hand, the LCMS student chapel, while having a smattering of "townie" adult families as members, was largely student run. That's where I learned how to be on a church council; how to be on a church committee; how to take worship leadership responsibility. The ALC/LCA church had strong student participation in worship leadership, but the administrative stuff was pretty much left to the non-students, although they made provision in their constitution to include a certain percentage of students on their council.


Both churches were cognizant of the transportation issues faced by students (especially at Michigan State, which has a HUGE campus with dorms in all quarters) and had a well-run transportation system to get on-campus students to and from church.


I think that greater involvement of local congregations in outreach to campuses is a good thing in general, but again they need to be willing to include/recruit students into their administration and the whole life of their church, not simply treat them as a special population who worships with them.  The relative town-and-gown relationship is also a factor for good or ill; in some college towns there are churches that really don't seem to WANT students in their midst, who act as the "non-gown" church in the area (in East Lansing there were ALC, LCMS and RC churches that definitely fit this description -- students tolerated at best) -- it may be a rough road for those congregations if/when they're asked to provide more campus ministry support.

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3 years ago  ::  May 14, 2011 - 9:58PM #4
Sherylyn
Posts: 63

My congregation supports LCM at Louisiana State University. I work with LCM closely, and I am on the synod's Campus Ministry Table.


Yes, churchwide funding is taking a hit. We are working to become a recogized campus ministry agency again, but except for the "official" name that goes with it, there isn't much point. Our synod (Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast) last year got $3300 for its 3 CMAs. That was about 1% of the churchwide campus ministry funds distributed.


But, having said that, good things are happening in campus ministry, despite the cuts in funding. In the TLGCS, we realized at the last Table meeting that 5 years ago, none of us would have been there, because none of these campus ministries were active enough for the synod to take an interest, if they existed at all.


At LSU, we have kind of a unique model. Our campus ministry is completely student-led and student-driven. The pastor of my congregation and I are there to offer advice when the students ask for it and to advocate for them with the local congregations (only two ELCA congregations in Baton Rouge, but the New Orleans congregations are supportive, too), and to handle funding stuff so they don't have to worry about that. The students plan and organize the bi-weekly meetings, arrange for members of the local congregations to provide a meal, and plan and lead the Bible study. When we establish a campus ministry board this summer, we will have three student representatives, whereas ELCA guidelines suggest only one.


The pastor of my congregation leads a weekly Bible study on campus, and we are planning to add another study (Living the Questions) and a weekly worship service on campus this fall.


We don't plan to push to hire a campus pastor or campus minister, even though the synod wants us to. This model works for us, given the relatively few number of Lutherans in these parts, and we plan to invest any money that we might normally spend on that into leadership development, in order to turn out students with a maturing faith who are ready to be leaders in whatever congregation they end up in.


Local congregations getting involved with/sponsoring campus ministry is a good thing, and I think it will become a critical thing down the line. All of our campus ministries, even the ones with campus pastors, are affiliated with a local congregation. But the congregation has to be willing to meet the students where they are, both literally (doing things on campus and at times attractive to students rather than making the students come to you), and metaphorically (accepting that we live in a world that is different than it was when we were in college, and adapt to that).


Oh, and even if our denominations and the congregations within them aren't working together, ELCA and LCMS students are, because beyond the presence of a chapel and a part-time chaplain, the LCMS campus ministry at LSU isn't active (but they won't let us use their building, even if we pay for it - we use the Methodist campus ministry building). The vice-president of our LCM group for the fall is an LCMS student, and we have several others who will be peer ministers who will help plan things in the fall and will lead Bible studies in the dorms. For this generation, the divide is pretty much nonexistant.


I'm happy to answer any questions I can about what is happening in campus ministry - if I can't answer a question, I know where I can go to get answers.


Thanks for starting this topic. It's an important one.

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3 years ago  ::  May 15, 2011 - 12:40AM #5
AFskypilot
Posts: 352

My son is the president of LCM at U of I.  He is telling me there is talk about Campus Ministry people being at the Churchwide Assembly to protest the actions, much like Soulforce stood up in the Assembly a few years back.


At WSU it looks like the Region will cut but it;s subsidies by 9,000 dollars.  I have been trying to get our congregation to make up the difference.  I know it can do it, but there is a lot of reluctance.  Am planning on bringing it up again at the semiannual meeting.

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3 years ago  ::  May 15, 2011 - 8:49AM #6
teilhard
Posts: 48,394

ELCA Congregations and their Members have been voting with their Wallets to de-Fund many VITAL Ministries and Ministry Partners ...


Actually, this has been going on for a long Time ... Sad ...

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3 years ago  ::  May 15, 2011 - 12:57PM #7
Eoconnorntep
Posts: 85

May 15, 2011 -- 12:40AM, AFskypilot wrote:

My son is the president of LCM at U of I.  He is telling me there is talk about Campus Ministry people being at the Churchwide Assembly to protest the actions, much like Soulforce stood up in the Assembly a few years back.


At WSU it looks like the Region will cut but it;s subsidies by 9,000 dollars.  I have been trying to get our congregation to make up the difference.  I know it can do it, but there is a lot of reluctance.  Am planning on bringing it up again at the semiannual meeting.


Go Hawkeyes!!!  In order not to bear false witness against my neighbor, I'm going to assume that's the U of I you meant until further evidence.


 


Peace


Beth

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3 years ago  ::  May 16, 2011 - 4:17PM #8
Sherylyn
Posts: 63

AF, a big part of what the campus ministry table in my synod will be doing is advocating for campus ministry in the congregations to encourage even the congregations who don't have campuses or campus ministries near them to support campus ministries financially.


We are taking LSU students to synod assembly this year to do just that. LCM at LSU will have a display table staffed by our students (and me, the token old person) who will share their stories with the folks at the assembly. Houston Campus Ministry (Rice, University of Houston, and UT Medical Center), and Brazos Valley Campus Ministry (Texas A&M and...another college whose name escapes me) will also have tables, but I don't know if they are bringing students.


The thing we discovered at my congregation is that, even if the older folks don't quite know how to relate to the college students, and even if they don't understand the need to meet students where they are, they want to support them. Families are always anxious to provide dinner for Thursday night gatherings, people who own businesses are always asking how they can help, and they just generally want to see campus ministry succeed.


Perhaps the best thing to happend this year, however, is that we raised nearly $1200 for a student who was accepted to go on a medical mission trip to Haiti. It's more than she needed, so we'll be able to make donation to the organization she is working for as well.


It's an exciting thing because it - along with other good things that are happening - represents a small shifting into a missional mindset in our congregation, which is a big change for us.

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3 years ago  ::  May 17, 2011 - 2:53PM #9
upsala81
Posts: 2,129

As a former Campus Pastor who was "defunded" and needed to get another call about 7 1/2 years ago, I can tell you that the recent cuts are nothing new.


The future for LCM will be more congregationally based ministries.


But those congregations have other priorities and the local campus is only one of many pots on the stove.  It is the total immersion into campus life that is missed when the LCM site loses a dedicated rostered leader for that campus.

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3 years ago  ::  May 18, 2011 - 2:53AM #10
AFskypilot
Posts: 352

U of I to me is Universty of Idaho.  Should have spelled that out.


I agree campus ministry will probably have go be more congregationally based. 


But what I do not want to see at WSU is our campus ministry moving off the Campus.  Where it is right now is at St Thomas right on campus--which is smack dab in the middle of the Greek Housing.  Each day thousands of kids go right past St. Thomas on their way to class.  Our campus pastor talks about the many times he will get walk ins--they have the coffee on at all times.


Some people say why not move the office to our building--problem is it is about four blocks away from campus--and that can be just like having an ocean separating us.  Even the Episcopalians are just two blocks away from campus still have their dinners on campus because they find students will not take the effort to even go that distance.


Thing of it is, if campus ministry collapses I fear what will take its place.  Back when I was going to school the cults preyed on students going through crisis.  I still see it today only the wolf is in finer clothing. 


I tell people Christianity is only one generation away from disappearing.  If we do not take the time or the effort to share the good news of Jesus Christ with these young adults Christianity suffers. 


But I also believe the Holy Spirit still calls, gathers and enlightens people who hear the Gospel.  Our job is to preach the Gospel and to provide a ministry of presense. 


 


 


 

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