April, 2018. Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, members of the Family of God!,
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Paul's favorite greeting in many, many of his letters to the congregations he helped to gather.)
At the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, Pastor Kate Reuer-Welton is the spiritual leader of Lutheran Campus Ministry- Twin Cities. More than 55,000 people gather on that campus every day. Many students live there in one of the dorms or in thousands upon thousands of rental apartments. For eight years, Pastor Kate has been on the front lines of the future Church, seeking answers to questions like these: "Who are the thousands of students at this university and what do they need? What is God already doing on this campus and how can the student leaders of Lutheran Campus Ministry be good partners in God's work? Who are the future leaders of the Church and what are the changes going on in the life and development of the Church today?
Some of those questions have been answered in these ways; Students are invited and gathered into a community where they can find friendship, support, a place to explore their faith and a place to hear and know that they are God's children. College can be disorienting. The University can be a stressful, lonely, confusing place. Many students are on their own for the first time in their lives and many are unprepared for the trials and errors, ups and downs, failures and challenges of modern, young adult life.
It is a very good thing that the Lutheran Church tries to find a way to support campus ministry. Students gather for worship and prayer on Wednesday Nights at 9 PM. Many go through the training offered to the student-leader core each year. Small groups gather for Bible study and faith exploration. Service projects are organized. They meet with students of other faiths through the Jewish campus ministry and Muslim student organizations. The world, society, and the university send many messages to our students and future leaders, but the Church is also there to send a message of "Grace and Peace" from a loving God.
The students at Lutheran Campus Ministry have worked on this message to describe their ministry: "Be Community. Be Curious. Be Real. " These phrases remind them that they are called to support each other, that they can be who they are and that God loves them as they are, wherever they are on their journey. They are encouraged to be curious (as students should be), to explore, ask questions, and then let go of worry and judgment, because God is loving and patient and for everyone.
There are parallels for us in our ministry here in our community. We can ask the same questions. Many of the answers are the same, but our efforts will take on different forms as we address the wide needs of God's children struggling, growing, caring for their families, and searching for God's love. Sitting around the table with the representatives of our Three church Task Force, or sitting around the table of one of our monthly Church Council meetings, or kneeling together at the altar rail, I am awed and inspired by the privilege we have to work together to hear God's word and to celebrate the Risen Christ living among us. The Christian Life is a great adventure! Happy Easter! Share the Good News! Here, and around the world.
Grace to you and Peace, Interim Pastor Dan Olson