The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
In 2018, the Saint Paul Area Synod released "Stories of the Synod," a 24-page stewardship booklet detailing the synod's work. The stories inside are just a glimpse of the work that Mission Support makes possible. One of those stories, below, emphasizes how Lutheran Campus Ministry helps college kids find faith.
“The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities has two campuses,” the Rev. Kate Reuer Welton of Lutheran Campus Ministry – Twin Cities explains. “And while people move between them, there is an urban-rural divide.”
The Rev. Kate Reuer Welton is better known as Pastor Kate to the hundreds of students who have connected with their faith through Lutheran Campus Ministry – Twin Cities (LCM-TC). “The heartbeat of who we are happens on Wednesday night at Grace University Lutheran Church,” she says. There, students worship together and form a church community. Upperclassmen bring lowerclassmen to worship, teaching them how to ride the bus and find their new church home. Once a month, they share a meal and longer, deeper conversations.
But outside of Wednesday night, that divide can still exist between the two campuses. The sleepy St. Paul campus, which houses the University’s agriculture programs, can seem like quite a rural divide from the bustling urban Minneapolis campus. “They have different lenses of looking at the same theology,” Pastor Kate notes. “It’s really beautiful in the context of community.”
To help address the needs of students on the St. Paul campus, LCM-TC has started being more intentional about ministry on that campus. While St. Paul students do attend Wednesday night worship in Minneapolis, they have also begun student-led small groups called “huddles” at the center of energy on that campus – a coffee shop in St. Paul. These huddles have created a space for students to dig deeper and share about their lives and their faith. Huddles also help students find a way to put their faith in action in the community.
“Together students explored theological concepts that included agape, wilderness, and resurrection,” says Pastor Kate of last year’s huddles. “We told stories about how God was showing up in these ways and then put our faith in action – embodying these concepts in ways that made sense to our students. Whether attending an exhibit at Minneapolis Institute of Art, serving together at Community Emergency Services, or attending March for Our Lives, students say they grew closer to each other and in their faith in God.”
Like many of her fellow students, Amanda says these huddles feed her faith. “We are a bunch of college students trying to discern what is most important to us in this world and where we want to go from here,” she says. “It is comforting to me to know that no one has all the answers to questions about life, faith or God, but the discussions we have push me to think critically about the intertwining of my faith with my life as a young adult.”
Julia, another student at the U, has also found a faith home while on campus. “LCM-TC is a place where students can connect if they are feeling isolated and need a listening ear and a place to pray,” she says. “It is a place to bring questions about faith, or quite simply a place to sing and smile and celebrate God.”
Churches are encouraged to share the content of these stories in their congregations. Any re-print should include: Saint Paul Area Synod, www.spas-elca.org. To request printed copies of the booklet, please call 651.224.4313. A PDF of the booklet is also available here.