100 years ago the Rev Samuel Trexler traveled by train from New York city to Ithaca, NY and to Syracuse, NY to establish Lutheran Campus Ministries. Campus ministry at Syracuse along with Columbia and Cornell founded by this circuit riding preacher, teacher and organizer are the second sites of Lutheran Campus Ministry in the United States.
The Lutheran church in 1910 experienced a major crisis in leadership. A committee of three pastors (William M, Horn, F.B. Clausen and Samuel Trexler) was quickly formed to research the problem. The committee concluded that “Potential leaders are being lost to the church because no attempt is being made to reach our young people in non-church institutions of learning, a rich field, properly cultivated, in which to recruit men for the ministry.” The committee strongly urged the Synod to call a pastor whose sole duty it would be to minister to student in colleges and universities in New York and New England. This report was received favorably, and the committee was asked to call this “Lutheran Student’s Pastor”. Fortunately, the committee had someone in mind for the job, its chairperson, Samuel Trexler. His intelligence, courage, leadership and confidence in young adults made him a natural choice. He was stunned by the committee’s decision; he had never thought of himself for this position. After consulting several other pastors, he prayed about this position and a growing sense of assurance made him realize that God was calling him to the “Student Pastorate”. He took the position, and was installed as the “Student’s Pastor” on December 11, 1912.
Here at Syracuse, Chancellor William Day was extremely helpful, pledging his support and assisting Trexler in getting names of Lutheran students. At Syracuse Trexler made his headquarters at his own fraternity house, Phi Gamma Delta, from which he wrote happily of “reliving student days”. He organized a Lutheran club, although this did not receive recognition until 1920, and invited noteworthy leaders to meet with students. He served in the position of “Student’s Pastor” for two years. After WWII Syracuse University honored him for his life’s work in church leadership and for the work he did on behalf of their students.
Today the purpose of Lutheran Campus Ministry is broader; helping young people sort out their career path and life style. Campus Ministry puts God in the equation as they think about their gifts and talents. It nurtures leaders for the work place, our homes, our neighborhoods, and our global community as well as for the ordained ministry and for leadership roles in congregations.
As the following newspaper article shows, LCM’s programs have always been on the cutting edge; challenging students to think and share God’s unconditional love.
Here is a picture of Pastor Gail with Rev. Beth Platz at the Annual LUMIN campus ministry staff Conference at University of Maryland. Rev. Beth Platz was the first woman ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
1912-1914 Rev. Samuel Trexler
1915-1936 Lutheran Club- local congregations, pastors and faculty helped the work among the students
1937-1942 “Secretary Fellowship” run by seminary students
1942-1945 Zion Lutheran Church (Rev. Christian Jensen) ministered to students
1946-1948 Rev. Donald Priggee
1949 Miss Gerd Armborg, Lutheran Campus Worker
1950-1951 Miss Dorothy Nieman Swanson, Lutheran Campus Worker
1952 Miss Virginia Yinger, Lutheran Campus Worker
1953-1955 Miss Marilyn Pflueger, Lutheran Campus Worker
1955-1960 Miss Evelyn Christienson, Lutheran Campus Worker
1961-1978 Rev. Paul Bosch Helen Howe worked at Married Student Housing Rev. Jay Teichner (sabbatical year)
1979-1987 Rev. Rick Bair
1988-1992 Rev. Michael Schultz Rothermel
1993 Rev. Craig Herrick, Rev. John Backe
1994-1998 Rev. George Koch
1998-2005 Rev. Fritz Lampe
2006-2007 Joseph and Anna Ballan (graduate students) with Rev. Craig Herrick
2007-Present Rev. Gail Riina EdD.