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at Arizona State University - 340 E. 15th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281-6612 (480) 967-3543 (map)
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Positive Picture of Campus Ministry?

Pastor Gary McCluskey
Pastor Gary N. McCluskey

Pastor's Notes
Gary N. McCluskey, Pastor

Recently I returned from a week in Southern California. I attended a gathering of Lutheran Campus pastors from around the U.S. There were about 144 of us there. I came back very excited about the state of campus ministry in our ELCA denomination. There are so many new young pastors with so much passion and enthusiasm doing great things even as they are just beginning their ministry.  It is inspiring to be a part of such a time in campus ministry history.

Our speaker was a professor from our seminary in Berkley, CA.  She addressed the current ecological crisis regarding pollution, climate change, etc. What was most unique was how she addressed it. Our speaker addressed it as mostly a systemic problem. That means we are all caught up in it. We are all part of the problem and part of the solution. Additionally she demonstrated how the problems caused by this crisis affect the poor and marginalized nations and people more than the very ones who cause it. 

All of her talks led to much discussion. What most struck me was the number of pastors who began by saying something like, "I was not raised in the church. In college (or some other period of life) I became very interested in (a social issue). When I discovered that was an issue of great concern to Christians in the church, I became curious and was drawn to the church. Eventually I became a part of the church". 

I find the above interesting because you and I raised in the church so often see faith as something to transform those within the church. We see ourselves as changing because of how God has spoken to us in the church. Yet I learned again that many are actually drawn to the church because they have sensed themselves as being called by God outside the church. 

So, I wonder. Could it be this is why I saw such a positive picture of campus ministry? There was gathered people from the outside with new perspectives. There was gathered life-long people of faith with an understanding of history and traditions. There was newness. There was experience. There was excitement guided by a rudder of sorts. Could this be a good picture of what the church itself can look like....indeed, perhaps ought to look like? Could it be that this pastor of 35 years has learned again, God's Holy Spirit does blow when, where, and how it will to refresh the church and those of us in it?

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