From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutheran College Students Gather for "A Faith Odyssey"

From news@ELCA.ORG
Date 01 Feb 2001 10:19:21for <,>; Thu, 1 Feb 2001 10:31:38 -0800 (PST)


February 1, 2001


     NEW ORLEANS (ELCA) -- Lutheran students from colleges and
universities across the United States met here Dec. 28-Jan. 1 for the
31st annual gathering of the Lutheran Student Movement-USA (LSM-USA)
under the theme "2001: A Faith Odyssey."  The 450 students gathered for
Christian fellowship, workshops, Bible study, community service
projects, legislative business and fun.
     LSM-USA is an organization of Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA), Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Evangelical
Lutheran Synod and other interested students who attend public, Lutheran
and other private colleges and universities.
     During plenary sessions participants adopted an amendment to the
LSM-USA constitution and resolutions of support for University Lutheran
Chapel, Berkeley, Calif., and for fair media reporting of events in the
Middle East.
     In light of recent ecumenical decisions in the ELCA toward full
communion relationships with the Episcopal Church, Moravian Church in
America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America and
United Church of Christ, a constitutional amendment called for creation
of "an inclusive environment in respect to LSM-USA and its members."
     LSM participants resolved to send letters of support for the
actions of the bishop of the ELCA Sierra Pacific Synod and the synod
council related to University Lutheran Chapel.
     Last September the Rev. Robert Mattheis, bishop of the Sierra
Pacific Synod, Oakland, Calif., announced he would not file disciplinary
charges against University Lutheran, after he was urged not to file
charges by the synod assembly.  Earlier, Mattheis had formally censured
the congregation for its decision to call a pastor, the Rev. Jeff R.
Johnson, who is not on the official clergy roster of the ELCA.
     The LSM resolution affirmed the chapel's decision to call Johnson,
and it said LSM will send a letter to the ELCA Church Council and the
Rev. H. George Anderson, ELCA presiding bishop, "encouraging them in
further thoughtful study of homosexuality in the church."
     In a separate resolution, LSM moved to support the ELCA's Prayer
Vigil for Peace in the Middle East.  The resolution encourages members
of LSM-USA to participate and declared the first day of each month to be
a day of prayer for peace, beginning with the last day of the conference
and continuing until peace is achieved.
     Two proposed resolutions were referred to LMS-USA's council.  They
called for identification of locations and churches that will provide
room, board and small stipends for LSM-USA members while they perform
missionary work, and opportunities for LSM-USA members to go on an
economical trip to Lutheran heritage and Reformation sites.
     One day of the gathering was dedicated to community service
projects.  Participants split into two groups and helped remove
graffiti, wash windows, paint, and make minor repairs at two  public
school buildings in the New Orleans area.
     "The work being done here today is going to help twofold," said
Ernestine Montgomery, a coordinator of the community service project.
"Some of these students will get an opportunity to see what it is like
to be in an urban school setting.  Many of them have never been in an
urban school and the majority are not education majors.  This may be
their one chance to see for themselves what some children are up against
in inner-city schools."
     "The other half of the work being done here is that when the
students return to school after Christmas break, they will be coming
back to a clean, graffiti-free environment," she said.  "It will show
the students who attend this school that there are people out there who
do care about them."
     Montgomery is director of placement at the University of New
Orleans and a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Kenner, La., an
ELCA congregation.
     "I believe in giving back.  In my life, I was given a chance to
get an education.  I really believe that it is important to give back to
the community when the opportunity presents itself," said Montgomery.
     Twenty youth stayed an additional four days for post-gathering
community service events.  The students were housed in a church
     Organized through New Orleans Cares, the students worked at Second
Harvest Food Bank, where they sorted and packed 13 tons of food.  They
also did restoration work at Holt Cemetery.  Holt is a public cemetery
in New Orleans that began as a potter's field and is still  used for
those who cannot afford to be buried in private plots and cemeteries.
     A Faith Odyssey offered twenty-three workshops, with topics
ranging from "Is God Calling You? A Discernment Thing" to "Can We talk?
Conversations About Tough Issues" and "Global Warming: Are we Caring for
God's Creation?"
     In the workshop "Can we talk?" participants watched a video of
other college-age students involved in a discussion on abortion.
     "When talking about tough issues, it is important to speak for
one's self instead of speaking from a group perspective.  Even with
gatherings such as LSM, we bring forth resolutions stating that we as a
whole agree on the content when that is not always the case," said
Connie Leean Seraphine, ELCA Division for Ministry, Chicago
     "We sometimes skip the ground rules.  There is no real dialogue,
it's two minutes here and two minutes there, of arguing one person's
point to make that point the viewpoint of the whole," she said.  "The
church should be a safe place for open honest dialog."
     "There are two things that our culture tries to tear apart no
matter what we do," said Leonard G. Schulze, executive director, ELCA
Division for Higher Education and Schools, Chicago.  They are learning
and faith.  We are here to witness that they belong not apart, but
     "This church, the Lutheran church, was born at a university.  It
was born of a spirit of critical thinking, of careful reading of
scripture and a spirit of translation of language.  These are the
hallmarks of being Lutheran," Schulze said.
     "You are the cutting edge of that tradition," he said.
     The Division for Higher Education and Schools serves indirectly or
directly about 300,000 young people through nursery schools, early
childhood centers, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and
universities, said Schulze.
     The Rev. Susan R. Briehl, an ELCA pastor, and former co-director
of Holden Village, Chelan, Wash., led daily Bible study.
     "This is the first time I can remember this many people getting up
every morning for Bible study," said Theresa Palumbo, LSM-USA intern.
"Briehl's scripture lessons were engaging and made way for open
scripture related dialogue during the small group sessions that followed
Bible study," she said.
     In other business, LSM-USA:
     + awarded its highest honor, an Honorary Lifetime Membership, to
Stephen Padre, assistant director for the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, ELCA
Department for Communication, Chicago, former LSM-USA intern, for his
continued support of the work of LSM-USA; and to Henry Strickland,
Augusta, Ga., an alumnus of Georgia Tech, Atlanta,  and LSM-USA, for his
work in creating the Web page for LSM-USA.
     + approved a budget of $17,600 for the 2001 fiscal year.
     + elected national officers and regional representatives,
including Thomas Saul, University of Arizona, Tucson, president; Jenny
Totora, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C., secretary; and Anthony
Bateza, Iowa State University, Ames, secretary for international and
multicultural concerns.
     The ELCA World Hunger Appeal received more than $900 from
offerings at three worship services during the gathering.
     The next LSM-USA gathering will be Dec. 28, 2001, to Jan. 1, 2002,
in Phoenix.
-- -- --
Photos of the community services events are available at

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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