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Leaders discuss students’ needs at the Campus Ministry Staff Conference

From May 20-21, WELS Campus Ministry hosted the 2019 Campus Ministry Staff Conference in Pewaukee, Wis. Over 50 called workers and other ministry leaders from dozens of colleges came together to discuss their current efforts and goals.

WELS Campus Ministry, a ministry of WELS Home Missions, provides resources, support, and encouragement to approximately 30 ministries on college campuses and many congregations near college campuses in the United States and Canada.

Campus Ministry Committee Chairman Rev. Charles Vannieuwenhoven, Northdale Lutheran, Tampa, Fla., notes that the simple mission to connect college students to Jesus united all conference attendees no matter their individual circumstances.

“Sometimes we get in our minds that campus ministry has to be this big thing,” he says. “But just get those students into worship on Sunday. That’s campus ministry. Maybe you have four that you can get together for a little Bible study. That’s campus ministry. You can look at it as a youth group for college kids. That’s campus ministry. Serve the students that are there. Find ways to involve them.”

The theme of the conference was “Defending the Faith.” Rev. Michael Berg, assistant professor of theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis., led a presentation about apologetics within the context of campus ministry.

“Part of a successful campus ministry,” Berg explains, “is having secular students interact with intelligent Christians so that they can see that the Christian worldview and the gospel of Jesus Christ is a viable, beautiful, life-altering thing and that it is intellectually robust.”

Attendees also learned how campus ministry might work together with other WELS ministries. Mr. Shannon Bohme, Mission Journeys coordinator, spoke about how Mission Journeys’ short-term service trips are fulfilling experiences for college-age believers.

“We can give them the opportunity to share their faith in a completely different situation with people that they don’t know and get some practice with that. Then they get to come back with that confidence and with that zeal for sharing the gospel,” Bohme says. “Hopefully then they are able to more easily put that into practice on the campus.”

Between presentations and discussions, attendees were also able to enjoy devotions, networking, and fellowship.

To learn more about WELS Campus Ministry, visit wels.net/campus-ministry. To help your organization understand the importance of campus ministry today, WELS Campus Ministry leaders are available to speak at church and synod events. Request a speaker at wels.net/speaker-request.

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Unless Someone Explains It

“Go south to the road – the desert road – that leads down from Jerusalem,” he was told. When Philip went, he met the Ethiopian man who was reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

“Go to that chariot and stay near it,” the angel directed. When Philip did so, he asked a very important question – “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The Ethiopian’s answer was straightforward: “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” Philip used the very passage the Ethiopian was reading, from Isaiah 53 (“he was led like a sheep to the slaughter”) to tell the good news about Jesus. Ultimately, the Ethiopian was baptized on that desert road.

At Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel in Madison, WI, our doors are open to all students on the Madison campuses. There are many occasions that remind us of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian. Students enter our building not knowing exactly what they are seeking, and the Lord gives us the privilege of being the ones who explain the good news about Jesus to them.

Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel

Last fall, one such student arrived at the Chapel, seeking answers about God’s Word. Through several contacts with the Word, the seed of gospel truth was planted and watered, and God made it grow.

In late October, Manaporn “Mint” Phaosricharoen was baptized – but not in our Chapel. She requested the opportunity to be immersed because that picture of washing away sins was important to her. So we braved the wind and chilly temperatures and entered the brisk waters of Lake Mendota for Mint to receive the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

The power of God’s Word is truly amazing. The opportunities God presents to share the power of that Word are equally amazing. Mint came to us seeking answers, needing someone to explain to her the truth of the gospel. God placed the Chapel in the right place and at the right time to offer her the answers for which she was searching.

Campus Ministry opportunities aren’t limited to the Madison area. At colleges throughout the country, our campus pastors delight in the opportunities God gives them to witness to young adults who are searching for what is truly important. “Unless someone explains it” could be said by many of them. Campus pastors continue to plant and water seeds with the Word of God, trusting that God, who works powerfully through his Word, will make those seeds grow.

Sometimes, God gives the special privilege of wading into an icy lake to baptize one of them!

Written By: Campus Pastor Jon Bilitz, Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel – Madison, WI 

Thank you for your prayers and support for Campus Ministry. If you know a college student that seeks to be connected to the nearest ministry to his or her campus, please visit campusministry.welsrc.net. 

 

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New form makes connecting college students with churches easier

WELS Campus Ministry is introducing a new student management system. It is now live for pastors and college students.

With this new system, pastors and churches can now manage student lists online. This includes viewing, sorting, editing, adding, and deleting student profiles as well as managing a student’s free subscription to Forward in Christ and Meditations. Pastors can access the form via their My WELS Cloud account.

For college students, the form is available at wels.net/campus-ministry. The new form will enable students to easily manage their campus ministry profiles, including updating addresses, expected graduation date, subscription preferences, and more. Students will need an e-mail address to register and will be given a pin number for their personal log-in. By registering, students will also be able to stay in contact with their campus pastor.

Currently, about 460 WELS pastors serve one or more campuses, and nearly 6,000 students are signed up with WELS Campus Ministry.

WELS Campus Ministry Chairman Rev. Charlie Vannieuwenhoven says, “The only way for our pastors to know the WELS students who are attending the university they serve is if their name is submitted with WELS Campus Ministry. This information allows the pastor not only to know which WELS students are attending the university he serves, but it gives him the information he needs to make contact with the student to invite them to worship or any other activities and to share with the student what’s happening with the campus ministry.”

Learn more at wels.net/campus-ministry.

 

 

 

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Renovation Complete, New Goals in Stevens Point, WI

January 29, 2017, was the date chosen for our new mission church and student center’s Grand Opening and Dedication. The Word in Stevens Point, Wis., needed to be ready for that special day. To me, the amount of work ahead of God’s people at Divine Word in Plover seemed insurmountable. I can only assume others had similar feelings. Would we be ready to welcome guests and visitors into a completed worship facility? Only time would tell.

On New Year’s Day, our core group started attending The Word for a set of four preview services. The community was welcome to join us as well. After each of those four services we set aside time to evaluate what had just happened in worship. Evaluation forms helped guide our discussion each week under the following categories: Worship, Sermon, Interior Feel, and Exterior Feel. The goal was improvement from week to week as we geared up for our Grand Opening and Dedication services.

Slowly, new interior items began to be delivered. Basic metal folding chairs were replaced with new, padded chairs. Lighting fixtures were installed, an improvement over bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Steady progress was being made toward January 29.

Getting the word out about The Word was also important to the core group. Radio ads about our upcoming opening aired on local Portage County stations. Facebook events were created and shared again and again. A local reporter from the Stevens Point Journal was contacted to run an article about the exciting launch of a new church and student center in downtown Stevens Point. Fifteen different individuals helped to distribute about 4,000 postcards to the communities around The Word, which invited them to join us for our Grand Opening and Dedication.

One week before the big day we recognized the amount of work that needed to be put in to make The Word presentable for visitors. Our core group, other Divine Word members, and UW-SP collegians set aside time every evening to sweep and mop floors, paint doors, clean bathrooms, set up the worship space, and prepare thank-you-for-coming gift bags for all first-time visitors at our January 29 celebration of God’s blessing on our efforts to reach our community with the good news of Christ our Savior.

What seemed like a workload too overwhelming at the beginning – was accomplished by so many individuals that volunteered their time and ability to make sure everyone’s first impression of The Word was a positive one. All that was left to do was to wait for January 29 to come.

No one had a crystal ball to tell us how many people God would lead through our doors that Sunday morning and evening. 161 people came to The Word’s Grand Opening at our 10:00 a.m. service. At least three family units worshiped with us for the very first time. 198 people came together for our dedication service at 4:00 pm in the afternoon. Numerous families from area WELS congregations were in attendance, as well as a handful of first-time and second-time visitors. UWSP collegians and their families attended our services on that Sunday as well.

Recognizing a completed project such as this one in Stevens Point is a great blessing God has granted to Divine Word, The Word, and our Wisconsin synod. Stevens Point is no longer the largest Wisconsin city without a WELS presence. But, we also recognize this renovation project is not the end goal. With God’s blessing, we will strive to proclaim the Word, the good news of Jesus as Savior, to the people of Portage County until Jesus comes again. We implore our Heavenly Father to keep us focused on the only two numbers that matter: the total number of people who are in God’s family versus the total number of people who aren’t.

By: Rev. James Roecker
The Word, Stevens Point, Wis.

 

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Connecting college students to Christ: Keeping Christian students steadfast

KEEPING CHRISTIAN STUDENTS STEADFAST

Amanda M. Klemp

Adele Kapellusch learned about the campus ministry program at the University of Arizona in Tucson her senior year of high school. An Arizona Lutheran Academy choir stop at Grace, Tucson, cemented her decision to attend that college. She graduated from the university in December 2015 with degrees in neuroscience and physiology and credits the campus ministry program with helping her stay connected to Christ.

“U of A has a great science program, but it was really important to me that I had a church. Grace was across the street from the university, so I had a church that was really close to my dorm, and I knew I would have the opportunity to go to Bible studies and church,” Kapellusch says.

While it was a great way to hang out with like-minded friends, she says that being connected to a Christian community also kept her strong as she faced nonbiblical ideas in her science classes. “Being in science and going to a public university, I was surrounded by people always telling me that because I was a Christian I was ignorant or I would eventually find out that I was wrong and God doesn’t exist,” she says. “But being able to talk with everyone at campus ministry, they all had those experiences, the same persecutions and struggles. It was good to be able to talk to them about it.”

Nathan Kassulke, pastor at Grace and leader of the campus ministry in Tucson for the past 11 years, says, “There are so many temptations, opportunities, and options competing for students’ time and attention. And statistically speaking, that’s an opportunity for students to drift away and not stay connected to God’s Word.”

He says that what they hear about evolution, morality, and even religion itself can be a danger to their faith. “To have somebody to talk to and to ask questions, to be built up in faith and maintain that connection to God’s Word and sacraments will help students grow in faith as they face those things.”


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

SIGN UP WITH CAMPUS MINISTRIES

Need some spiritual support and encouragement while you’re at school? As a college student you can get bothForward in Christ magazine andMeditations, a book of daily devotions, mailed to you for free.

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Connecting college students to Christ: Bringing light to the gospel

BRINGING LIGHT TO THE GOSPEL

Amanda M. Klemp

The campus ministry in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, calls itself “Illumine.” The name, which has served them to “bring light from the Scriptures,” reflects how the group studies the Bible.

“When I met with a few university students after I first got here and asked them what they wanted out of campus ministry, they said, ‘If you’re going to do a fluffy Bible study, we’re not particularly interested,’ ” says Luke Thompson, campus pastor. That ambitious attitude from the students set the tone for the growing, three-year-old campus ministry.

Thompson focuses on two aspects to the ministry. The first is weekly socials, where the students get “the best meal they’ve had that week” followed by an in-depth Bible study.

“We go all out on the dinners and have things like ribs, Mexican, or Indian food,” says Thompson.

St. Paul congregation sets aside part of its budget for the meals, which are held in Thompson’s home. Thompson says a key component to building a relationship with the students is letting them know they have a “home,” a go-to where they can be comfortable.

The socials usually draw about 20 people. About one-third to one-half of the participants come from a Lutheran background. The others either have no background with Christianity or come from nominally Catholic homes. They are hungry to dive into Scripture.

“We basically have two types of students who show up. One is your WELS member looking for a community to find like-minded people and other conservative Christians. But the other half, the friends they invite, have no Christian background or very little Christian background, and they’ve never been exposed to apologetics, deep doctrine, or treating the Bible historically,” explains Thompson.

He continues, “Our Bible studies are very rigorous. We spend a lot of time on the historicity of the New Testament—looking at things like the transmission of the New Testament documents and texts, the reliability of them, the formation of the canon, the historical backgrounds of the gospels, and the historicity of the resurrection. This is the first time many of the students are exposed to this, and they get kind of addicted to it.” Several of the Bible study participants continue studying at the church’s Bible information class not necessarily to become a member but to get a strong, formal introduction to Christianity.

Many of the weekly Bible study attendees started by attending an Illumine Talk, the second main aspect of the campus ministry. These presentations look at elements of pop culture with a view toward literary criticism and Christian apologetics. Once each semester, Thompson will take a topic—ranging from zombies and contemporary fantasy to the modern anti-hero—and use it to examine human nature and how it reflects truths from Scripture. Then he shares the gospel. About 50 students attend, most of whom are not involved in campus ministry or a church at all. Thompson’s goal is to offer the most non-confrontational way possible for students to invite friends to an event that shares God’s Word.

In a multicultural college community that is overwhelmingly non-Christian, one of Thompson’s big goals is to equip the students to talk about the Bible like a New Testament apostle. He wants to remove the commonly defensive statement, “I believe,” from their faith vocabulary, particularly relative to opposing beliefs. He explains, “When you read the New Testament, they talk in a very different way. It’s not about ‘what I believe’ or something abstract, but they’re talking about real, historical, concrete events that took place.” He wants his students to share the gospel in the same way—sharing that it’s real and why it’s real.

Learn more about WELS Campus Ministry


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

SIGN UP WITH CAMPUS MINISTRIES

Need some spiritual support and encouragement while you’re at school? As a college student you can get both Forward in Christ magazine and Meditations, a book of daily devotions, mailed to you for free.

 

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Connecting college students to Christ: Finding a new church home

FINDING A NEW CHURCH HOME

Amanda M. Klemp

“Legitimately, I stumbled in, and they were really warm and welcoming.”

It was Alexis M.’s second day in Ottawa as she began school at Carleton University, and she wanted to worship that Sunday morning. This biomedical and electrical engineering student saw St. Paul was open and holding services, so she went in and sat down. That is how she came to learn about Lutheran doctrine and to start the next chapter in her faith life.

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Luke Thompson holds weekly dinners and Bible studies in his home for the campus ministry in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

After her first chance visit there, Alexis continued to attend every Sunday and joined Illumine, the church’s campus ministry group.

“One thing I really like is, when talk-ing to Pastor Thompson, everything is referenced to the Bible,” she says.

Alexis grew up in a Catholic home and attended Catholic schools. Getting into the Bible has opened her eyes to the message of salvation through Christ alone. “For me, someone who is trying to grow in their faith and spend more time with God and spend time trying to understand the Bible, being able to see where the verses correlate with each other, where things come into place in the Bible, is so very important,” she says.

Her parents, active Catholics, are supportive of her scriptural and faith pursuits through Illumine. While she hasn’t been confirmed yet, she has taken classes and considers St. Paul her church home.

The Illumine group, she explains, is supportive and encouraging. “I highly recommend that any Lutheran church that can have this program should have it, because it gives students a place to go and feel welcome and know that just because they’re Christian does not mean they can’t have fun or can’t interact with others. They can spend time learning about the Word of God,” says Alexis.

She continues, “It gave me a break from school. It gave me time in my week, no matter what, to go and get to spend time with God.”


STUDENT EXPERIENCE: UW-MADISON

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Eric Liu, 2012 and 2014 University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate

Meet Eric Liu, a 2012 and 2014 University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate currently pursuing his PhD in Southeast Asia. “My journey to Jesus started by reading on the Internet Bible verses in my language. I kept thinking about these verses. One night, there was a voice saying, ‘You should take a look at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel where you had Triple Dollar Dinner three years ago.’ The next day, I went to Chapel and nervously asked the girl at the front desk how I could know more about Jesus and Christianity. I was introduced to Pastor Bill and began studying the Bible with him. I was so blessed to be baptized at Chapel in August of 2014. Without my Savior, I would still be in darkness.”


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

SIGN UP WITH CAMPUS MINISTRIES

Need some spiritual support and encouragement while you’re at school? As a college student you can get both Forward in Christ magazine and Meditations, a book of daily devotions, mailed to you for free.

 

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Connecting college students to Christ: Budding outreach efforts

BUDDING OUTREACH EFFORTS

Amanda M. Klemp

Brian Wrobel started a campus ministry at Zion, Gainesville, Fla., during the 2014–15 school year after being assigned as Zion’s pastor in summer 2014. Between the University of Florida and Santa Fe College, there are enough students to populate a small city. The outreach opportunities are huge, and the church is located between the two campuses.

In the last two years, Wrobel has assembled a small, ded-icated core group of campus ministry members who are working to grow the program and extend outreach efforts on campus. Wrobel says, “The last few meetings this year have been to intentionalize and plan ahead for outreach and sustainability moving forward.”

The first step will be to become a recognized student organization, enabling the group to get in front of students easier. After that, the group is planning activities like a cookout and ultimate Frisbee to garner interest and participation.

“We are a young, cultural, progressive city,” says Wrobel, and the group seeks to reach out to this large multicultural population as well as to the unchurched on the campuses and in the community.

“These are such formative years for these students, where there’s so much getting thrown at them and challenges to their faith that they maybe have never heard or seen before,” says Wrobel. He prays his students will “never stop growing in the knowledge of Jesus.”


Amanda Klemp, WELS editorial projects manager, is a member at Living Word, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

MISSION STORIES

Read more about how WELS missionaries are working to spread the gospel in the U.S. and around the world on the WELS Missions blogs.

HELP WELS REACH THE WORLD

Your offering to WELS Missions will help more missionaries go to more places and share the gospel with more people.

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Author: Amanda M. Klemp
Volume 103, Number 9A
Issue: September 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Empty Nesters

College graduation causes empty-nest syndrome for hundreds of WELS campus pastors around the country.

Glenn L. Schwanke

It’s summer. Everything is settling down after college graduation. My wife and I are empty nesters again. We saw Rachel off to further her graduate studies at Virginia Tech. Calvin packed up his van and headed down the road for his new job in Tennessee. Another Rachel plans on pursuing graduate studies in Illinois. Jon and Ashley are off to the Twin Cities, where Jon starts his new job as “a project engineer designing hardware setups that will run software to monitor the power grid in various countries.” Please note: It’s countries not counties. I sure hope he gets it right. There are quite a few more who are leaving our nest, but I just don’t have space to list them all.

For more than 18 years now, graduation has caused my wife and me to ride the same roller coaster of emotions: proud, thrilled, and yet sad to see our nest emptied. Exactly how many have left through the years? I’ve lost count. It must be in the hundreds.

What? So many? How is this possible? I suppose by now it is time I make clear what you have probably already guessed. The young men and women who leave our nest each year are not our biological sons and daughters. They are your sons and daughters, your grandsons and granddaughters. You have entrusted them to us through WELS Campus Ministry. But we develop a close relationship with so many of these fine young Christians. Remember that Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). That’s how we feel about the young men and women who spend four, five, or sometimes even six or seven years with us here in Houghton.

We watch them grow and mature. We rejoice to see them “fan into flame” the gift of God that has been given to them by Baptism and then nurtured through Word and sacrament over the years (2 Timothy 1:6). We cry with them when their hearts are broken. We laugh with them when they are happy (Romans 12:15). We celebrate with them when they walk on commencement day, hear their names read, and proudly grasp their diplomas.

Then we send them out into the world with our prayers, hugs, and also a few tears. The good-byes aren’t always so easy.

Not that the good-byes come easy for the other 384 campus pastors in our Wisconsin Synod either! Did you know that we have a full-time campus ministry at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel at UW–Madison? We have part-time-plus campus ministries here in Houghton and at Point of Grace in Milwaukee, True North in Minneapolis, the Rising Son Campus Ministry in Oshkosh, and the Beacon Lutheran Student Center in Mankato. We have campus ministries as far away as the Light of the World Campus Ministry in Fairbanks, Alaska, and even a few in Canada. And we all share a common goal.

Just what is that goal? Nurturing sons and daughters in the faith. Preparing them for the day when they will leave the nest. Sending them out with the prayer once offered by Paul: “For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17).

We pray you will welcome our “adopted children” when they come. We pray you will be blessed by them, as we have been.

Glenn Schwanke, pastor at Peace, Houghton, Michigan, serves as campus pastor at Michigan Technological University.

Is your son or daughter going to college this fall? Campus Ministry will send Forward in Christ magazine, Meditations, and other helpful materials to students for free. Register at www.wels.net.

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Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 102, Number 7
Issue: July 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us