Being Stewards of Our Young Adults

             Often when we think of campus ministry we picture an ordained minister serving as spiritual advisor and mentor among students and sometimes faculty and staff on a college or university campus.  But campus ministry occurs in a variety of ways both on college and university campuses and on the grounds of trade and technical schools.  Yes sometimes there is a called campus minister whose base of operation is the particular campus or school.  Yes, more often than not that campus minister is ordained, but sometimes that individual is an associate in ministry.  In other cases, the ministry is based in a local congregation and offered by that congregation’s staff and a variety of congregational members.  No matter the exact form this outreach ministry takes, it is important …because it touches the lives of young adults.

            My focus this month on young adults who pursue additional education has three purposes.  One … to remind us that there are congregations and rostered and lay leaders who faithfully minister to this segment of our population, and it is my hope we might continue to find ways to support these significant and vital ministries.

            Second … September marks the return of students to these schools and campuses all across this country.  Though these young adults have a tendency to become a bit invisible in our congregational life following their confirmations, nonetheless, they are baptized members of our communities for whom we have concern.  Most certainly we want them to succeed academically, but we disciples of Jesus who committed ourselves to care for each of these young adults in their baptism also want them to be solidly grounded in God’s Word and spiritually healthy.  That is where campus ministry can assist us.

            Campus ministry personnel are eager to engage, shepherd, and care for our young adults who venture onto their campuses and into their schools.  The problem is they do not always know who those individuals are … and because of privacy laws that information is no longer freely shared by the school.  But all is not lost!  You can help!  All it takes is you sharing the name of the young adult or young adults you know along with the school they are attending with personnel of the campus ministry at Penn State.  They, in turn, will pass that information onto the identified campus ministries or designated contacts of a congregation-based ministry that is providing spiritual care and support to students.  It is as simple as that!  So share the name of that young adult/s you know and the school they are attending.  Perhaps you may even know their email address.  That would be helpful too.  Give the information to your pastor or your associate in ministry and ask them to forward it to the campus ministry at Penn State.  Or you can contact our campus ministry staff at PSU yourself.  The email address there is lutheran@psu.edu.  The phone number is (814) 865-0033.  You too can be a good steward of ministries we have to offer young adults attending a school of higher education.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity!

            That gets me to my third purpose for focusing on young adults and campus ministry in this issue of The Lutheran Letter.  In the Allegheny Synod we are blessed by a strong and faithful campus ministry at Penn State provided by the campus minister there, Associate in Ministry Alicia Anderson and the staff and members of Grace Lutheran Church, State College.  They have forged a strong partnership in these past several years that involves other pastors of the Nittany Conference along with members of Grace and touches the lives of students on the Main Campus of PSU day in and day out. 

            I am delighted to inform you that this year Alicia Anderson was recognized by her peers by being named the recipient of the 2011 James R. Carr Distinguished Service Award.  These colleagues from across the country chose her for this award which annually recognizes excellence in campus ministry.  This tribute acknowledges her deep and abiding commitment to students in campus ministry since the early 1990’s.  Clearly Alicia has been one of our chief stewards of campus ministry to young adults first in Wisconsin and for the last fifteen years at Penn State.  Congratulations Alicia!  Thank you for your witness and faithful partnership!

            And now before you forget it … send your young adult’s information to Alicia at PSU.  It is yet another way we can let our light shine and support these baptismal sisters and brothers who are continuing their education.  Thank you for your partnership.                                      

                                                                                    +Bishop Gregory