Dear LCM community,
I am so excited to write to you all today as part of the 2017 LCM Vision Team, which includes myself and my fearless counterparts: Jonah and Regina. Every year, three students are nominated by their fellow student leaders to identify a growing edge of our LCM community, visit another Christian community to learn about how others approach a similar issue and bring our learnings and thoughts back to our LCM community.
Identifying this growing edge was somewhat of a challenging process for us. We each had different opinions about what aspect of a community and church’s life was most important. We disagreed about what we thought was working well and what we thought could be improved. Through these challenging and hopeful conversations, one theme jumped out; that was that we all experienced our faith differently. In the end, we chose to explore differences in people’s experiences of faith and spirituality through the framework of Corrine Ware’s four spiritual types.
Most of us were first exposed to the idea of “spiritual types” at the LCM winter leader retreat last January. Through informal polling and conversation, we discovered that LCM tends to have individuals of all spiritual types but as a whole, we tend to lean more heavily toward two of the four types (more on all this in blogs to follow!). As the vision team, we settled on the question of how LCM might make space for people of all types to feel welcome and fulfilled; and how can we as individuals grow by stepping outside our comfort zones and walking alongside those who experience their faith differently than ourselves?
In pursuit of this question, we will be journeying to the island of Iona in Scotland to spend a week with the Iona Christian community, established at a former abbey and monastery. We chose this community because it is comprised of members who live on the island as well as a network of members around the globe who are committed to living their lives following the principles of the group. The community embraces mystery, pioneers new music and ways of worshipping, and is committed to putting their faith in action in the public square. We are so excited to learn from this community about how we might build a community which can hold diverse spiritual needs, and kinds of religious expression.
Stay tuned at this blog to hear more about how we’re growing and learning as individuals, as well as our hopes and dreams for the formation of our 2017-18 LCM Community at the U!
By Julie Wall
Hello amazing, wonderful, human!
I hope I find you in good health, a happy spirit, and excitement for the upcoming year. There will be a lot going on when you arrive on campus, and it will be beyond exciting to get started on your path to the “real world,” but let me tell you something in advance—there’s going to come a moment when you realize that you’re exhausted and you need a break.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s something that, I will admit, I had help discovering. It’s a group that is full of so much passion and energy but also creates the perfect time to finally Pause. From exploring your dorm and running around all three banks during Welcome Week to getting lost on campus and having to stop someone and say, “Excuse me but could you direct me to ___,” I know it will be a long, tiresome, exciting, funny, stressful adventure, and you’ll be in desperate need for some place to just stop, take a deep breath, and relax.
Look no further—Lutheran Campus Ministry, aka LCM, is the place for you! The first Wednesday night I went to worship, an hour service called Pause, was during a thunderstorm. It was maybe the third week into the school year and I arrived at Grace University Lutheran Church drenched and stressed out. I was still making the transition from living at home with my family to living at school. My pastor from my home church recommended LCM to me, and I hoped that in my time of need for familiarity, I could find a bit of peace.
I realized I was walking into an unfamiliar space by myself during the third week they had already been gathering, and I thought, “What were you thinking???” Nevertheless, I did it anyway. I was greeted at the door and from there to the sanctuary, I was welcomed at least four times before I took a seat next to a stranger. We ended up making conversation and the next thing I know, I found myself singing Mountain Vespers, which were already near and dear to my heart. It was so special to experience walking into somewhere brand new, not really knowing what to expect, but feeling right at home. After the service, we gathered downstairs to enjoy conversation and treats and I found myself signing up for the LCM fall retreat (with people I had now known for a total of two hours—and by the way, the retreat was a blast)!
I came to Pause hoping to find peace in a time of transition, but I found much more than that. I was welcomed into a community of grace and hope and curiosity. The night I decided to see what LCM was all about, I found something so special that once I found it, I never left.
May you find peace when you need it most and happiness always.
On behalf of the Lutheran Campus Ministry Twin Cities Board of Directors I am pleased to present to you our three-year strategic plan (Click link below). Our journey to create this plan began with an evaluation of the results of our Triennial Review Report that took place in November of 2015. We reviewed our mission, and conducted an Appreciative Inquiry-based process in which we looked at the strengths of the organization and its leadership. The process helped us to imagine and implement our vision for the future, allocate resources, and provide guidance in planning the day-to-day actions to achieve the vision. Together we identified four strategic priorities. This plan was created with the help of DeYoung Consulting Services, Lutheran Campus Ministry – Twin Cities’ Board of Directors, staff, and student leaders.
Pastor Kate Reuer Welton
LCM-TC Campus Pastor
I have always had such an amazing time on the Spring Break trips with LCM. Getting closer to the people on the trip, having adventures, and learning valuable lessons are just a few things that happen on these trips that are meaningful to me. In Albuquerque this past Spring Break, what was the most important to me were the ample opportunities to listen to the stories of the people we met throughout the week. Mary, a woman from the Acoma Pueblo, stands out to me in particular. She invited us into her home one evening to make tamales, and she shared her history and culture through her handmade pottery and photos of her family. She was so patient and welcoming with our group as she told us about what life was like in and around the Pueblo. She told us stories of love and loss, and joy and heartbreak. As Mary talked to us, I was astonished by her openness. She invited a group of twelve strangers into her home, prepared dinner for us, and shared her history and culture with us, all without complaint or resentment. She was the epitome of what it means to be welcoming, and her kind nature was so inspiring to me. I think we are all called not only as Christians, but also as humans, to be welcoming to strangers and to be open with our stories, both good and bad. Openness is often more important than we think. Sharing our experiences with others breaks down walls much more than it builds them up, and surprisingly, your story may often be exactly what someone else needs to hear.
No two people have the same experiences, and everyone has something unique that they can share. Let’s make an effort to be more open with one another and to share our stories and experiences, not only to become closer and more compassionate, but also to raise awareness for issues of occurrences that normally wouldn’t be meaningful to us. With sharing our stories comes a need to listen to, process, and unconditionally accept the stories of others as well. Both of these skills, sharing and listening, can be hard to cultivate, but when used in the right proportions, there is no greater reward.
-Allison Cunningham, LCM Servant Leader
If there is anything Jesus makes clear in the New Testament, it is His want for us not to live in fear.
It’s rumored that if you add up all the times in the Bible where Jesus says “do not fear,” “do not be afraid,” “fear not,” or something similar, it sums to 365 times- a word of encouragement for every day of the year. (I haven’t done the math, but if you try it out, let me know.)
We live in a world where so many decisions are based on fear. We do work we don’t enjoy because we fear not having enough money. We don’t address problems in relationships because we fear losing them. We do things that are decidedly not Christlike because we fear the consequences of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.
And I don’t think it’s because God thinks we’ll never be afraid. I think instead, it’s a call to put fear aside in order to take the next step in following Christ. Jesus called on his disciples to sacrifice quite a bit in order to follow him, and they had plenty of reasons not to want to.
What will become of my family? What if I’m wrong? What if I die? Christ calls us, similarly, to give up our wealth and to welcome the stranger. So frequently we find ourselves asking some of the same questions. If I don’t have enough money, what will happen to my family? What if the stranger puts me in danger?
But if we want to follow Christ, we can take the example from the disciples:
Leave your net at the dock, like Simon and Andrew.
Take the leap of faith.
Do not be afraid.
I hear this as good news. In Christ we are freed not only of our sins, but also of our fears, shortcomings, and insecurities. In all that we do, God is with us. And when He is the stronghold of my life, whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)
I also hear this as a call to action. Instead of fearing for the state of the world, we get to be God’s hands and feet in it. Instead of worrying about whether or not justice is being done, we can go out and work for it ourselves!
Imagine just how radically compassionate we could all be if we didn’t let fear drive us. If we didn’t fear the stranger, maybe we could get to know them. If we didn’t fear living in poverty, maybe we’d worship money less and worship God more. Maybe if we had confidence that God was working in us, we wouldn’t be so obsessed with achievement in order to impress the people around us.
Coming up on graduation, I know a lot of students like me have decisions to make regarding their future. I know a lot of students are worried and unsure of what that future may hold. I encourage all of you to remember that the most important thing is out of your control: God loves you unconditionally and is with you wherever you go in this life. So wherever you may go, and every day of the year: Fear not.
-Libby Witte, Senior Servant Leader
I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t love the beginning of a new routine. As each semester begins, I eagerly fill out my planner, print my syllabi, buy new notebooks, and physically wiggle with anticipation for what is to come. (I acknowledge this is not a feeling shared by all…) I feel as though I am re-energized and ready to tackle my new classes and work schedule, balancing it all flawlessly. However, despite these feelings of excitement, within a few weeks I start to feel worn and my days may feel dull as what was all brand new becomes routine. It is as if the shiny-ness and newness of my rhythm fades. What I am learning though is that this ‘fading’ is not necessarily a bad thing. There is still much newness in my every day- just not everything is brand new. There are still new people to meet, there are still new conversations to have, there is still new food to try, there is still that new album I’ve been meaning to listen to, there are still new laughs to share, and there are still new tears that will fall. There is still so much newness and freshness all around me and within me. So as our first few weeks of the semester become our new rhythm, I encourage you to see the new in each day…because this incredible college rhythm goes much too quickly.
-Emily Mentz, Servant Leader
“38 You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.”
Buried deep in the Sermon on the Mount, which we’ll be reading in detail this Epiphany season, is this admonition to creative resistance to the powers that be. While this passage can be read as a directive to passivity, Walter Wink offers a powerful interpretation of this passage which frames this text as a “third way” of creatively transforming violent and unjust situations.
In our ministry at the University of Minnesota, we are committed to standing with those on the margins of the campus, and the larger community. The students hold deep theoretical commitments about why this matters, and sometimes even what should be done about it.
And still, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what to actually do about our deeply held convictions, grounded in faith, that God shows up on the margins, and that we’re called to love and look out for our neighbor.
So, during Lent this year, we’re going to be offering a four part series that fleshes out this “Third Way of Jesus” that Walter Wink talks about, offering concrete tools to put those values and faith in action. We’ll be gathering at 7:30, on Wednesday nights, at Grace University Lutheran Church:
- To learn what it means to intervene as a bystander…
- How to participate in basic advocacy…
- How to have conversations across lines of difference and…
- How art and spoken word function as a tool of both resilience and resistance…
We’re so excited about this that we’re opening it up to the broader community, and are hoping for an intergenerational community of people to emerge, committed to supporting one another and working to make the world a better place – in dorm rooms, board rooms, and everywhere in between.
Keep your eyes out for Facebook invitations, or check our website for details as they emerge. We’d love to have you as a part of this conversation!