I have recently been asked what produces a good campus ministry. From my experience two ingredients are essential. They are church members who are very friendly to college students, and Bible studies which teach the Gospel.
Samuel Is a Grove City College student from Jamaica. He needed and wanted a ride to All Saints so he could attend the student Korean meal. So campus ministry asked Rosemary and Peter Rigney, who live in Grove City and recently joined All Saints congregation, if they could help. They called Samuel and told him that since they were going to the meal, they would gladly pick him up and bring him to All Saints. Actually they would have brought him even if they had not been coming.
Rosemary beamed when I thanked them for bringing Samuel. She said that they had talked easily on the 7 mile drive to Slippery Rock. Samuel told them that he really likes to eat hot, spicy foods, and that he enjoys cooking as well. He volunteered to cook a Jamaican meal for them. They made plans to invite him to their home where they will cook a meal together. Rosemary, is a great cook. She wants to learn Jamaican dishes from Samuel. As Rosemary remarked, “We bonded.” A friendship was born. A college student became part of ministry to college students at All Saints because such a personal interest was shown to him.
Elise is an American student who attends Grove City College. She comes to worship every Sunday at All Saints. It was the preaching of Reverend Larry K. Loree Jr., All Saints campus pastor, that convinced her that she wanted to be an LCMS Lutheran. She committed to attending adult membership classes, but she needed transportation to the classes. Once again the Rigneys came to the rescue. They were happy to bring Elise to classes, especially since they also were studying to become members. During the rides back and forth they became friends. This friendship continues. Rosemary’s passion is sewing and embroidery. She is in the process of creating beautiful coverings for All Saints’ altar. Elise also likes to sew and embroider, so Rosemary invited her to her home to give her a place to embroider. Elise is another college students who has grown close to a member of the congregation as well as bringing her closer to campus ministry.
Sam is a Grove City College student from Central Ohio. He comes every week to All Saints for Sunday morning adult Sunday School and for the Wednesday evening Lenten services. He makes the time from his heavy academic load to travel from Grove City to Slippery Rock. He does not have a car so he needs transportation. In answer to his need for rides, Tara Severson, an incredibly busy mother, picks him up and takes him home. Tara and her children make Sam feel very welcome. He knows that they are pleased to be with him. They link Sam to campus ministry.
Anna from Pittsburgh attends Westminster College in New Wilmington. Dr. Linda Domanski, a professor, happily picks up Anna for Sunday School and worship. They clearly enjoy their time together. Anna is part of campus ministry due to the rides. All Saints congregation shows that students do matter. This opens doors to campus ministry.
A second ingredient in forming campus ministry is Bible study. When my husband, Jim, suggested that All Saints begin a Bible study for SRU international students in 1984, we began with a weekly Bible study led by Reverend Robert Weinhold, with recruiting help by Angolan student and member of All Saints, Aaron Cornelio. We studied a book of the Bible verse by verse. We went slowly because English was not the first language for the Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese students who came. Today we use the same format for the international and American students who come to read and study Genesis and I Peter. We have found that sharing the Gospel by studying the Bible is essential. Keeping the classes small is good, too, because students feel more comfortable asking questions in a small group. A recent question came from an international student who wants to know why Christians who have been in jail so often come out as fervent Muslims. She is puzzled by this. An American student who is studying Genesis was upset with God for not allowing Esau to have the birthright. The student changed his mind when we carefully read the whole story.
Since college students are so vulnerable by being inundated with untruths on campus, it is crucial that we share the Truth. This is an opportunity for us to be personally involved with students. We can find ways to share faith. We call this campus ministry. This is our joy at All Saints.
Augusta R. Mennell
Campus Ministry Director
All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center
Slippery Rock PA 16057