By Rev. Craig Herrick
Pastor of First English Lutheran Church
We don”t seem to require Lutherans for us to do ministry.
I”m a city pastor and Lutherans are few and far between but the congregation I serve serves a city neighborhood and a city with what I call a “Lutheran presence”.
I think it”s much the same for our Lutheran Campus Ministry at Syracuse University. We are a Lutheran presence in a great university where there is much more at stake in the lives of those we serve than the old institutional goals of making new Lutherans. As disciples of Christ with a Lutheran flavor – I”d say a Lutheran bent – we”ve answered the lawyer”s question in Luke 10, the one about “And who is my neighbor?”
Sometimes, that neighbor will be the young person in the office of the chaplain whose parent”s dutifully referred her by clicking the link on the ELCA”s website. She”s far from home for the very first time and…..
But in today”s world it has become even more likely that that neighbor will be best online casino this young woman”s Hindu roommate, even farther from home, whose loving, caring parents have never heard of an ELCA.
Our willingness to be engaged in the dynamics of so broadly a multicultural and intellectual venture that is the 21st century academy requires that we know who we are – the proud, spiritual descendants of a 16th century campus pastor who never failed to talk about and listen to the widest range of ideas and viewpoints imaginable….
…. and who”s we are – a people both in and beyond the campus, campus pastors, local congregations, synods and the wider expressions of the church – grounded in Word and Sacrament and dedicated to the building of community with Christ as it”s foundation and cornerstone.
It is that grounding that allows us, encourages us, compels us and calls us to be a faithful touchstone when so much of a student”s life is up for grabs – intellectually, spiritually, physically and deeply personally.
Knowing we don”t need to make you Lutheran in order to fulfill that great calling encourages a warm welcome and real hospitality, deep and informed conversation and genuine caring.
It”s what we do in the city in a congregation I”ve been honored to serve, faithfully serving folks whose lives are rarely easy.
It”s what Lutheran Campus Ministry does when it faithfully serves those whose lives look easy but rarely are.