The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


August 25, 2006

Back to campus...ministry

It’s that time. The sun slants lower. Leaves are starting to turn, even fall. Last weekend The Lutheran’s art director, Mike Watson, packed up the new truck to take his son back to campus. How many more families will be making the trek to colleges across the country in the coming days?

I’m remembering my own first trip up from home in Western Springs, Ill., to Evanston, Ill., to move into my freshman dorm at Northwestern University. I sat in the backseat of the car, ducking my clothes hanging from a pole that my dad and I later hoisted on our shoulders and into my room. As soon as we transferred the hangers to my closet, he was ready for what he considered that day’s most important event—meeting the Lutheran campus pastor. An invitation had arrived at our house in the packet of new student info: Come see the campus ministry center, meet other students, have a Coke.

I wasn’t all that eager, but, of course, I went. And it did turn out to be probably the most important event—not just of that day, but of all my college days. It’s one reason why I’m on the Chicago committee of the national team to mark the centennial of Lutheran campus ministry.

Parents packing up students today can just go to ELCA Lutheran Campus Ministry to find locations of ministries at more than 180 state and private colleges and universities. There’s even a handy on-line form to refer a student to a campus ministry.

Chances are checking out campus ministry may not be at the top of a student’s priority list on moving-in day. It wasn’t on mine. But I’m sure glad my dad had a different list.

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Embracing diversity