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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Setting the table for six

Ecumenical campus ministry in La Crosse does something new

When Paul R. Petersen told worshipers at the church where he was preaching that the new campus ministry center in La Crosse, Wis., represents six denominations, they applauded. The ELCA campus pastor wasn't surprised. 

"People really get excited about that," he said. "Maybe it tells us the longing people have for churches to work more together."

Petersen and Laura Hoglund, a United Church of Christ pastor, have worked together to set the table for six denominations and others who come through the doors of Common Ground Campus Ministry, a three-story facility that opened in May 2012.

Previously, Petersen led a separate ELCA campus ministry center across the street from the one Hoglund led, which was supported by the United Church of Christ,Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)Episcopal ChurchUnited Methodist Church, and American Baptist Church. Those separate centers, converted from private residences, were fine in their day, but over the years campus activity had shifted away from the area. 

The new ecumenical center sits right in the heart of student housing. Some 3,500 students live in a two-block area of dormitories and private rental units. While adjacent to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, the center also is within blocks of Western Technical College and Viterbo, a private Roman Catholic university.

"We can't even imagine what the Lord will provide going forward," Hoglund said. "We are totally in the right place at the right time."


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