LUTHERAN VALUES AND COMMITMENTS IN MINISTRY
Reknowned theorist and activist bell hooks wrote, "Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world."
In a dominant culture that champions independence, we insist on the crucial gift of interdependence. All humans need a place to belong, to be safe, to receive and offer wisdom and service; we also need allies and advocates as we seek intersectional justice.
In Lutheran campus ministry, we affirm our human unity while acknowledging the ideal is far simpler than the practice. We celebrate our identity while exploring partnerships with other traditions, and welcome people from any faith background or no faith background at all. We commit to students of all ethnicities and race, nationalities, socioeconomic contexts, sexual and gender identities, and abilities.
Lutheran pastor and author Nadia Bolz-Weber once wrote, "The movement in our relationship to God is always from God to us. Always. We can't, through our piety or goodness, move closer to God. God is always coming near to us."
We believe that both the sacred texts and story of the Christian Church have incredible lessons for us. There is profound wisdom, witness, and sacred teaching in study; there is connection with the divine and one another in prayer and worship. There are also painful and difficult lessons in deconstructing where human brokenness and sin have met with the power of the Christian institution - together with the beautiful Gospel of Christ, we also inherit a legacy of crusades, colonization, and corruption.
Deepening faith does not mean eradicating doubt, nor does it mean denying the complexity and brokenness of our human story. Faith, in the Lutheran expression, is not what we "know" but how we trust. Through opportunities to study scripture, open ourselves to new and old theological thinkers, learn to recognize and cultivate our prayer life, and watch for God in our neighbor, we deepen our trust that God moves in and ever nearer to us. We hope this deeper faith empowers bold action in love and service to this world.
Paul Tillich, an influential 20th-century Lutheran theologian wrote, "All things and all people, so to speak, call on us with small or loud voices. They want us to listen. They want us to understand their intrinsic claims, their justice of being. But we can give it to them only through the love that listens."
Perhaps the hardest and most beautiful thing about leaving home is the way that everything that came before stands or falls when tested in the world. The sheer volume of voices, perspectives, experiences, fears, hopes, and dreams come flooding in. It shakes everything up.
We are committed to holding space for this unraveling, exploring, and expanding. While such spaces may initially feel unsettling or even distressing, allowing for ambiguity and change is a crucial stance for loving in a complex world. With space for deconstruction, we also commit to provide resources and care as students begin to reconstruct their beliefs and values.
A core theological commitment for Lutherans is to the "priesthood of all believers" and the vocation(s) of the faithful in daily life. Our sacred vocations (or "callings") show up in relationship, in study, in paid and unpaid work, and in the civic sphere. No call is higher or holier than any other - to be ordained as a minister, to become a parent, to provide public transportation, or to keep schools clean and safe for the community's children.
From good soil, a life of love and solidarity can blossom. With it, we equip students to see what love and service looks like when their gifts meet the world's needs in any given moment - to recognize them even when they don't manifest in ways we're taught to see. Sometimes we serve by preparing food or washing dishes, and sometimes we are in a moment of disrupting injustice. Sometimes we buckle down to claim our education, and sometimes we stay up an extra hour with a friend who's overwhelmed and anxious.
We lift up service as a way of life, and inspire students to see the many ways they are called into the world.