I’m Pastor Courtney Young, and I’m the new Lutheran Campus Pastor at SCSU. I actually went to St. Olaf for my college education so part of my work here has been to figure out what Lutheran Campus Ministry is both in St. Cloud and in general as part of the ELCA. As I’ve been digging into the history of this organization, there has been a lot of other conversations going on about the impending 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We Lutherans really like to talk about the Reformation, but we don’t like to talk about what reformation implies. Really, reformation is just a fancy way of talking about change and with change always comes sacrifice. Sometimes we choose the sacrifices we make, sometimes we are forced by circumstances to make sacrifices and adapt.
Now, as I’ve been learning about the history of campus ministry here in St. Cloud, I’ve heard many different stories of reformation and sacrifice. First, I heard how this ministry grew out of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and eventually became its own standalone ministry. They reformed so that they could have closer ties to campus and to other campus ministries, but there was sacrifice there - they lost intimacy with the community at Bethlehem. The second big change that I heard about was when they sold the houses to found University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany. They reformed so that they could draw together a more diverse community around worship. They sacrificed some of the everyday, run-of-the-mill moments that are more likely to happen in a ministry that functions out of a house. The third change, which I’ve heard the most about, is the closing of University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany. So far this has been the only major story in LCM@SCSU’s history where they had reformation and sacrifice thrust upon them. At least, the only major story that I’ve heard. They sacrificed much - a worshipping community, a building near campus. The change has brought opportunities too, now I work where the students work and my focus has turned entirely to campus and exploring what students today need from the church.
A key part of our ongoing reformation has been continually asking ourselves how can students and churches and alumni and supporters can be served by and stay connected to Lutheran Campus Ministry. Tonight is not only a chance for us to celebrate 60 years of ministry at St. Cloud State University but it is also the start of developing news ways to be in relationship with one another.
O God, we give you thanks for those who founded Lutheran Campus Ministry in St. Cloud 60 years ago and for those who nurtured it in all of its forms. You have promised through your Son to be with your church forever, and we give you thanks for the signs of your presence in our midst, then and now. We rest in assurance that you walk with us still, even as we endeavor to gather in a new way as a Christian community. Increase in us the spirit of faith and love and make our fellowship an example to all believers. We pray through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.