How do we keep our members connected to God’s Word while they are away at college? This question has been asked by parents and congregations alike. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to connect them to a local WELS congregation or campus ministry near the school where they are attending. The WELS Campus Ministry Committee (CMC) exists to help parents and congregations in this task. Every year, the CMC sends letters to every WELS congregation asking for contact information for their high school seniors. Once this information is gathered and entered into our database it is used in two ways. First, the CMC sends out letters to every student. This letter encourages students to be involved in campus ministry and gives them the contact information for the local congregation or campus ministry where they are attending school. The CMC then sends the students’ contact information to the local contact or campus pastors so they can make contact with these students while at school. This has been an effective way over the years to connect students to local ministries.
But we can’t connect students to these local ministries if we don’t know who they are! One of the challenges the CMC has faced is the low participation of congregations in this contact information gathering effort. Historically, only about 400 of our 1300 WELS congregations have participated. This year, the CMC has initiated a pilot program to connect more students to local ministries. The CMC has engaged the help of Senior Vicar Phil Janisch from the Point of Grace Campus Ministry in Milwaukee to call congregations and ask for contact information for all their high school seniors. Vicar Janisch spends his time calling every WELS congregation who hasn’t responded to our mailing to encourage them to provide this information. Sometimes it is secretaries who gather this information. Sometimes it is the pastor. Sometimes it is an interested parent or member who does the work. To date, we have been able to gather information from an additional 400 congregations. We are grateful to see that our efforts have doubled the number of congregations participating. We are hopeful to see 100 percent participation of our congregations in this effort in the future. The more students we know of, the more we can connect to local ministries and through this keep more students connected to God’s Word. Your help is appreciated as we partner together to keep our young people connected to God’s Word.
By Rev. Charles Vannieuwenhoven
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