Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Colorado Boulder invites students, staff, and faculty more deeply into Jesus Christ and the community that bears his name, so that they can discover and fulfill their vocation as disciples. We live this mission out through a partnership with St. Aidan's Episcopal Church. Together we support a community of students called, 'Bread+Belonging." Each week Bread+Belonging gathers for a weekly meal and program where students know that they are beloved through generous and inclusive welcome. (We are the only active Christian group at CU that affirms LGBTQ+ students.) In 2014 we launched a Lilly Endowment-supported program called 'El Camino Colorado.' Its aim is to help students discern the lives that God is calling them to lead. We have developed a variety of tools to help students reflect on the meaning of their academic and personal lives.
Lutheran Campus Ministry in Boulder, Colorado started out in 1945, as a group of students called the 'Luther Club' met weekly in the basement of Trinity Lutheran Church. In the early 1950's Mertice Schmidt became the first Lutheran lay campus worker in Boulder, splitting her time between the University of Denver and the University of Colorado.
Support for the ministry grew so that in 1962 Dwight Ellefson became the first ordained pastor to serve students at the University of Colorado. After 3 years, Pastor Ellefson accepted a parish call and in 1965 Pastor Gordon Ward started his ministry here continuing with the congregational model.
Lutheran Campus Ministry rented space in the United Protestant Center and Chapel where many students came during the week for social events, meals, bible studies, group discussions, midweek chapel devotions and Sunday evening fellowship and worship. Since the United Protestant Center housed a number of other campus ministries ecumenical cooperation in programming flourished during the late 60's and early 70's. This was also a time of political and social upheaval within society, which greatly impacted university communities. Campus Ministry at the University of Colorado was often called upon to play a reconciling role between "warring factions" within the university community.
In the mid 1970's an agreement was made with another group of Lutheran Students on Campus. This group - the Missouri synod Lutheran Church campus ministry would be the only Lutheran student group on campus in Boulder while ELCA Lutheran Church would be the only Lutheran Student group at Colorado State University's campus. From 1978 to 1990 the only Lutheran Campus ministry that existed on Boulder's campus was the Missouri one. During that time questions were raised within the ELCA regarding how well students were being served by the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. It was decided there was a need to re-establish the ELCA Lutheran Campus Ministry in Boulder, and Pastor Gordon Ward was called back to do the job.
Pastor Ward's work began in August of 1990 gathering twelve freshmen as the core group to help being the new ministry. From 1990 to 1995 the ministry was built into a full time program with full-time clergy staffing and part-time secretarial assistance.
Pastor Laurel Alexander was called to be the campus pastor of Lutheran Campus Ministry after Pastor Gordon left. At this point LCM moved again, this time into a house on "the hill" owned by Grace Lutheran Church. Bible studies, community dinners, and other campus ministry events all took place at the LCM House. The house also served as housing for several LCM students, who took care of the property and served as student leaders for the ministry. At the conclusion of Pastor Laurel's tenure LCM moved out of the house and into Grace.
Pastor Zach Parris was called to Boulder in the summer of 2011. Soon after his tenure began LCM initiated a partnership with St. Aidan's Episcopal Church. In the fall of 2012 LCM and St. Aidan's launched a program called, 'Bread+Belonging.' This weekly meal and program quickly became the centerpiece of the ministry. It was hosted by St. Aidan's and staffed by LCM.
In 2014 LCM-CU was approached by the Lilly Endowment and with their support started a program called, 'El Camino Colorado' in order to help students discern the lives God is calling them to lead. Through mentorship, bible studies, book groups, and international travel students are given structured space to discern big life decisions. 2014 was also the year that the tradition of a fall beer tasting fundraiser was begun!
I was a member of the Lutheran Campus Ministry ("LCM") program at the University of Colorado (Boulder Campus) for two years during my time as a student. During those two years I attended services, outreach programs and social gatherings. One trip I went on with Pastor Zach Parris and LCM changed my life. Below is one of the first pieces of writing I did for my newly founded company, ShareBrands
"She scoots around the defender, brushes by an aluminum slate and rolls the ball effortlessly past the toy truck marked as the left goal post. It's a goal. She's good. Latika is really good. I outsized her by two feet and more than 100 pounds, but I was bending over gasping for air after she took the lead in a side yard soccer game in the hills of Guatemala. I looked up with some newfound energy after wiping the layers of sweat off my face…she had run into her house and returned to the field with her youngest brother strapped to her back, wearing him like a gold medal. Her mother, who needed help with the laundry interrupted the game. The two oldest of the five siblings helped hang laundry while their mother sloshed clothes in a wash bucket and breast-fed the youngest. The family worked in perfect and proud harmony. The able providing for the unable - life in collaborative form! What if there was a business model that captured the competitive driving forces of capitalism and the harmony of collaboration?"
When I returned from the trip the aforementioned question became my sole focus. As a person of the church, I felt called to serve my family, community, and society. I believe we are asked to fulfill a role that serves God and for which we are well suited. Pastor Zach Parris and the LCM program helped me discover my role - more specifically, a role I feel is helping the people around me.
Pastor Zach has an effective way of promoting this idea - he listens and questions. I asked Zach countless questions about the Gospel, life purpose, biblical interpretation and the majority of the time he would listen then provide a small amount of well thought advice. After conversations I was left with more questions than answers, but as time went on I found myself searching more thoughtfully and asking better questions. This learned approach led me to start a business with the sole focus of promoting positive change. I would recommend Pastor Zach Parris and the LCM ministry to any individual searching for God's calling - I am where I am today in part because of the ministry.
Below is a list of other characteristics embodied by both Pastor Zach Parris and the LCM Program: Sense of purpose, freedom, intentional prayer, thoughtfulness, patience, hilarity, understanding and mindfulness.
Connor P. Knutson