As an incoming elementary education student, I had no real plans as to how my religion would find its place at Concordia. I grew up attending an ELCA church near my home but never thought about how it may become a greater part of my life in the future. I attended multiple mission trips, volunteered at vacation Bible school in the summer, and served in multiple roles for worship over the years. I always figured I would continue to attend church while in college but never realized what opportunities would lie ahead at Concordia.
After completing only about half of my first semester at Concordia, I knew that I wanted to expand my coursework to include religion somehow. I was taking my Inquiry Seminar, Compassion and Hope, with Dr. Jacqueline Bussie. In this course, we explored texts from individuals involved in various faith and non-faith traditions, and held discussions on how we can build more bridges in our divided world through simple acts of interfaith literacy and dialogue. After about an hourlong meeting with Dr. Bussie, I came to the conclusion that I would add on the interfaith studies minor along with a religion major to complement my elementary education studies. These additions would open even more doors after graduation for a career or further education in the religious world.
Upon arrival at Concordia, I had a small understanding of what the words “dedicated to the Christian life” meant within the mission statement of the college. As someone who grew up in an ELCA church, I had a good idea of what Christian principles were and how they could be applied to one’s life. But I had almost no idea as to how those words could be applied to someone with a religious or non-religious background different from mine. Although our campus is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, “dedicated to the Christian life” is more about the set of values and morals that are instilled during your time at Concordia and less about the religious ties of the college.
I’ve learned through my various roles in student organizations such as Better Together, where we promote interfaith cooperation on campus, that students of all spiritual backgrounds can apply the college’s mission. Although not all students here are Christians, all Cobbers can learn to live a life that strives for a more peaceful world where all are valued and empowered to make a difference.
For students who are looking to explore their spiritual journey, Concordia offers numerous opportunities on campus. One of my favorite places on campus as someone who grew up in an ELCA church is the campus ministry office. The office is where you can find our two campus pastors and deacon, who are a resource for all students – no matter your spiritual beliefs. “It is our primary goal of being chaplains for the whole campus,” Pastor Dave Adams says.
We want to provide spiritual care to anyone who comes to talk with us on any matter they need to chat about. This may mean talking about faith, it may mean we pray for them, it may mean that we just hold space with them and help them to feel aligned with their own inner values. I am called to visit with anyone who talks to me.”
– Pastor Dave Adams
Campus ministry offers multiple weekly opportunities to gather as a community, both formal and casual fellowship time. Typically, a chapel service is offered one morning per week. These services are offered as “a time for all to find a pause in their day, to not necessarily learn something but to celebrate community and to feel renewed and restored to live out their faith,” Adams says.
Campus ministry also offers a weekly communion service on Wednesdays. This service is a very special experience as students gather in the middle of their week to take communion and to worship together.
Students are able to hold leadership roles as part of the Campus Ministry Commission. This is one of three Student Government Association commissions. Students work alongside campus ministry staff to assist with the planning and coordination of worship services and Justice Journey service trips.
All Are Welcome Here
No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, there is a place for you here. Although we are rooted in our Lutheran tradition as a college of the ELCA, we welcome any and all to our campus so they may find their own meaning in spirituality during their time as a Cobber.
Published July 2021