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CSU Lutheran Campus Ministries adapt to political climate

There are many ways for student of faith to get involved on campus. LuMin takes extra steps to connect its students.

Lutheran Campus Ministries at Colorado State University, otherwise known as LuMin, is a student organization that aims to connect students of faith with each other and with the community. LuMin belongs to the Rocky Mountain synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America or ELCA. A synod is a smaller functioning region of the ELCA, which acts as a sort of national body for the church. There are seven total campus ministries in the Rocky Mountain synod.

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There are several functions of LuMin. Goals and activities are largely created by the students involved in LuMin, according to Kaari von Bernuth, a senior English literature major who serves as one of the student board members for the group. 

There are seven small groups that arose from the asserted interests of the members. Some of these groups are more social in nature while others are service or activity oriented. The service group is currently working with other Fort Collins Lutheran churches to build a home for “Habitat for Humanity.” Another small group revolves around coffee houses. Students assemble at different coffee shops and converse about life. Several other groups allow students to find community and involvement opportunities within the student organization.

Another function of LuMin is getting students involved in the faith. LuMin coordinates with other Rocky Mountain campus ministries to facilitate retreats. There are two ELCA Lutheran summer camps, according to von Bernuth. LuMin. Members from the campus ministries at University of Colorado Boulder and University of Northern Colorado also attend. Members from these group will attend one of these camps called “Sky Ranch” in October. This particular retreat is based around the theme of conflict resolution. Von Bernuth believes that this theme was chosen partially in response to the currently volatile political climate.

Local events and the political climate have shifted the dialogue for many students involved in LuMin. LuMin works to facilitate conversations between students of all faiths and affiliations in response to current events both locally and nationally. Prayers and sermons have become more focused on mediating the feeling of hatred that is often associated with the current state of the country.

“Lutherans are very open,” von Bernuth said. “Nobody is going to judge you, no matter where you’re coming from or who you are. We have especially been trying to emphasize that, especially for all the hatred that is being perpetuated.”

After the Islamic Center of Fort Collins was vandalized in March, LuMin opened up many conversations between students about the event. Pastor Paul Judson of LuMin made it a priority to extend these dialogues to students of other faiths and denominations in order to learn more about how events like that affect student religious groups. Keith Evenson now sits on the CSU Multi-faith and Belief Council and serves as the Lutheran representative.

Von Bernuth knows the Lutheran religion to be very open and accepting of all people. Unlike some denominations, ELCA Lutherans have what is known as “open table,” meaning that anyone can receive the sacrament of communion. The other sacrament in the Lutheran faith is baptism.

“Lutheran Theology and my own personal faith is firmly centered in grace” von Bernuth said. “So that is the grace of God, which we receive even though we don’t deserve it at all, but God comes and gives us this grace and this love, always, no matter what. That’s what Martin Luther talked about in his 95 theses.”

The beginnings of the Lutheran church are typically dated back to this event. In the early 16th Century, Martin Luther was said to have nailed a list of debatable questions and propositions to the door of a church in response to corruption occurring in the Catholic Church at that time. This list came to be known as the “95 Theses” and sparked a major schism in the church resulting in the Lutheran denomination and event known as “The Reformation.” This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as well as the 50th anniversary of Lutheran Campus Ministries.

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LuMin has grown since von Bernuth entered. Her freshman year, the group had no pastor. This made it difficult to improve involvement for students. Pastor Paul’s time with LuMin has allowed the organization to develop and grow. Other students credit Pastor Paul with the development and energy of LuMin.

“His commitment and love of all the members is apparent in every interaction,” said Peter Meyer, a sophomore chemical and biological engineering major and board member for LuMin. “He is always willing to talk about life, share a cup of chai tea, play a game of cribbage and simply be in the community.”

LuMin meets at 5:15 p.m. Sunday evenings for worship and then a meal.

“That meal time is a wonderful opportunity to slow down and have meaningful conversations with the people in attendance,” said Kyra Jensen, a sophomore chemical and biological engineer major at CSU.

For members of the organization, LuMin is open and welcoming to all students interested in the faith.

The CSU Lutheran Campus Ministry is located at 805 S. Shields Street.

Collegian reporter Emma Turner can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @EmmaTurner1228.

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