Rachel Goddard has had a busy summer. Besides graduating from Michigan Lutheran Seminary (MLS), Saginaw, Mich., in May, she participated in two outreach opportunities through MLS’ Project Titus, a program that gives students an opportunity to do cross-cultural outreach and mission work in the United States and abroad.
First, she went to Colombia, South America. Then she went across town.
Goddard, a member at St. Paul, Saginaw, was participating in one of the newer Project Titus opportunities—Project Titus-Local. “For a number of years now MLS has been doing a fantastic job with our Project Titus efforts both domestic and foreign,” says Terry Vasold, professor at Michigan Lutheran Seminary. “We started asking ourselves whether there is something we could be doing in our own backyard.”
MLS started looking for local Saginaw opportunities for students to get involved. Some students volunteered at the WELS Pregnancy Care Center. Last school year about 35 students helped at the local chapter of the Special Olympics. And 11, including Goddard, got involved in a Bible soccer camp this summer at Bethany, Saginaw.
Bethany’s soccer camp is no small affair. Held annually since 2012, the camp offers soccer skill training as well as Bible story teaching to up to 175 children ages 3-12, the majority of whom are from non-member families. Eighty volunteers are needed to make sure the camp runs smoothly. That’s a tall order for a congregation of 188 communicants. “This could not be happening without the MLS kids,” says Mike Nitz, pastor at Bethany.
Nitz says it was natural to get MLS students involved when he and MLS Dean David Koehler started the camp in 2012. “Getting the teenagers to help really bridges the gap between a camper who is maybe 11 years old and the [older] coach teaching the skill,” says Nitz.
Having teenagers involved also is an encouragement to the community. With Saginaw being hit hard when the automotive industry declined, area residents are used to seeing young people leave to find better jobs. “For attendees to see the MLS teens helping us out sends a message that our ministry is connecting with today’s youth and has a bright future,” says Nitz.
Nitz says that the congregation’s free soccer camp has put Bethany on the map and the congregation is slowly growing. Each year’s soccer camp has brought in new members and prospects as well as students for the congregation’s early childhood ministry. “We frequently are complimented on how organized and efficient our camp is,” says Nitz. “And we pass this on to the MLS students—you are the light of the Lord, a living Bible, and maybe the only Bible someone will read and the Lord will use to lead to learning the gospel.”
“My favorite part was teaching the kids,” says Goddard, who has been helping with the camp for the past three summers. “And I like hearing when new people come into the church.”
Goddard, who is a freshman at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., this year, says she appreciates all the opportunities MLS provides to get a taste of ministry. “It helped me see that I wanted to be a teacher,” she says.
“Project Titus-Local has given our students another opportunity to do ministry,” says Vasold. “Whether they go on to MLC or not, it will give them valuable experience for the next time they are called on to serve.”
Learn more about Michigan Lutheran Seminary at mlsem.org and in this month’s edition of WELS Connection.
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Volume 104, Number 9
Issue: September 2017
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