The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Changing with the times

Today's students often reach campus with little prior church experience.

When Donald Ranstrom entered campus ministry at the University of California-Davis in 1970, students "would come to campus and look us up." Now, 27 years later, many students arrive at college with little or no prior church experience.

"Now we are much, much more a mission outpost of the church," Ranstrom says of Lutheran Campus Ministry. "I think of myself as similar to being a missionary in Japan."

Ranstrom, who still serves as campus pastor at the Belfry--UC-Davis' Lutheran/Episcopal campus ministry--says moving from chaplaincy mode to missionary mode has meant many changes in how he and others do campus ministry.

However, some church leaders are concerned about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 144 Lutheran campus ministries. At its April meeting, the ELCA Church Council asked that a "think tank" be convened to address campus ministry issues, including a changed student population, staffing models, organizational questions and funding. The request came during a review of the ELCA Division for Higher Education and Schools, which oversees Lutheran Campus Ministry. The council reviews two churchwide units each biennium. Recommendations from the "think tank" will be brought to the November council meeting.

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