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Campus Ministry: Celebrating 100 years

The same Jesus proclaimed in Lutheran Campus Ministries one hundred years ago still receives the focus today.

A picture on the TODAY Show or the local news. A letter from the President. A party thrown by friends and relatives. Celebrating a 100th birthday is a blessed event!

Our changing world

Reaching the century mark is also a cause for reflection. Consider what has happened in our country in the last one hundred years.

In 1920, World War I was in the rearview mirror. A person may have traveled more frequently by horse and buggy rather than automobile. Flying was still considered an indulgence rather than a necessity. Communication was by letter or telegram. Most homes did not have phones. Radios began to bring the world into living rooms. Very few homes had bathtubs.

Fast forward through the next century. Wars hit the country hard. World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the War on Terror. The Great Depression replaced the Roaring Twenties. When prosperity returned, televisions became more common in homes. More families owned cars. Telephone communication increased. Microwave ovens made cooking quicker. Computer technology exploded. Mobile phones became cell phones became smart phones. These developments only scratch the surface of all the changes that have happened since 1920.

Campus ministry is turning 100 this year. Can you imagine the changes that have occurred? Think back to what it must have been like in 1920. Meetings or Bible studies were not announced on social media. There were no copy machines to print material. The fountain pen was new. Girls wore dresses. The guys donned a suit coat (maybe with a top hat!). Wrapping our heads around all the changes is a daunting task!

Our unchanging Jesus

Have you noticed the word most frequently used so far in this article? CHANGE! So many changes have happened, including in Campus Ministry.

Standing in stark contrast to all the changes is the one thing that has remained the same: Jesus. The same Jesus proclaimed in Lutheran Campus Ministries one hundred years ago still receives the focus today. The writer to the Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Jesus has remained at the center of the message of Campus Ministry because he never changes. The promises found in God’s Word give hope, strength, and purpose to college students today in the same way they did one hundred years ago. Students still gather around the Word of God for comfort and peace as they encourage one another in the faith.

Because Jesus never changes, our message stays the same. Forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation are found in Jesus and in Jesus alone. Jesus’ love for us is a past, present, and future reality that will never change, even when so much around us does. That message has resonated with thousands of college students in Lutheran Campus Ministry over the last century.

We have so much to be thankful for. Faithful pastors, youth leaders, and dedicated congregations have made serving students a priority. Students, past and present, have made and continue to make their faith life important during their college years. And God has blessed Campus Ministry with a changeless message through changing times.

We pray that God will continue to bless college students through Campus Ministry for another one hundred years (or more!), until Jesus comes to take us home.

Author: Jonathan Bilitz
Volume 107, Number 08
Issue: August 2020

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