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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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100 years and counting

Lutheran Campus Ministry began at the University of Wisconsin at Madison

This year college campuses and universities across the country are celebrating the centennial of Lutheran Campus Ministry. Among them is the first campus to receive a Lutheran pastor, the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Much has changed since that pastor—Howard R. Gold—set foot on campus in July 1907. The university’s current pastor, Brent D. Christianson, expects many more changes.

At the start of each school year, Lutheran
At the start of each school year, Lutheran Campus Ministry dishes up the biggest banana split to welcome students to the University of Wisconsin at Madison campus. The split is 20 feet long.
Christianson has already seen significant change in his 18 years of campus ministry. “When I first entered the church, national and synodical expressions funded nearly all costs of campus ministry,” he said. “That is changing each year. We are responsible for more fundraising, increasing endowments, grants and major gifts.”

But it’s not only funding that’s different, Christianson said. “Students have changed. ... Computers … cell phones, text messages and electronic communications are simply part of life,” he added. Yet one thing remains constant. “Worship is key,” he said. “In all areas of the Lutheran Campus Center, students exercise leadership.”

Pastors aren’t alone in campus ministry. Lay ministers, such as Laurie FoxPetrov at UW-Madison, also devote significant time and effort. FoxPetrov said one of her favorite activities is the “Biggest Banana Split on Campus” to welcome students at the start of the school year. Calling it “20 feet of everything you dream about in a banana split,” she said, “It’s served out on our terrace on University Avenue and it doesn’t last long.”


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