Across the synod we support five mission outposts within college communities. Together they are Lutheran Campus Ministries (LCM).
At the University of Buffalo, LCM of Western New York exists to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to students and young adults. In The House, where students live in intentional Christian community, leaders help students make choices in light of their vocational calling and challenge students to integrate their faith into everyday life. Peer ministers are a centerpiece of this mission.
LCM at the Rochester Institute of Technology is the only mainline Protestant campus ministry on campus. Student involvement and leadership is growing, including three peer ministers who assist in leading worship. They are also launching a new web discussion forum called www.GodShuffle.org. Meals after Sunday evening worship services are provided by area Lutheran congregations.
In 1913, Rev. Samuel Trexler traveled by train to Syracuse and Ithaca to found Lutheran Campus Ministries at Ithaca (now St. Luke’s) and Syracuse University. They were the second sites of LCM in the United States. Today these ministries help young people put God in the equation as they think about their gifts, talents, and career path. They nurture leaders for the work place, our homes, our neighborhoods, our congregations, and our global community. This is a place where minds and hearts are changed, new friends are made and the gospel is experienced in word and deed.
At the University of Albany, Cornerstone Protestant Campus Ministry offers worship, fellowship, Bible study, and learning opportunities in order “to bring students together to make a difference in the world.” Together they engage in mission and community service both locally and in the wider world. Eight to ten peer ministers lead the way as Bible study leaders, mission coordinators, administrative assistants, and worship facilitators. We support this ministry as an extension of LCM.
Best friends, exciting adventures, faith formation and leadership development are all part of outdoor ministry in Upstate New York.
Vanderkamp’s community farming project partners with area businesses to plant an acre of organic vegetables. Last year half were used in the camp kitchen and half donated to local food banks-more than 2,400 pounds of produce raised altogether-through campers and local volunteers!
Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center partners with the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN-a ministry of temporary housing for homeless families) to send homeless youth to camp. Youth from RAIHN face violence, drugs, dropping out of school, and a lack of positive role models in their lives. Their camp experience can be life-changing. For example, two LCLC youth from RAIHN are now considering college.
In the Hudson-Mohawk Conference’s Confirmation camp, Luther’s Small Catechism appears atop Blue Mountain or in a kayak on Lake Pleasant as conference pastors, deacons and parents journey into the Adirondacks for an unforgettable week of instruction in the midst of God’s creation. At Senior High camp, young adults come together for a week of intense faith formation.
One former camper, now staff, writes: “I have been partaking in camp ever since the first year of Confirmation camp. I’ve met people from all different backgrounds who have shared their life events with me and I with them. I have been through a lot in my life and camp has grounded me each year, giving me a place to recharge, surrounded by a spiritual, judgment-free zone.”
Thanks to you, young people return from camp renewed in their faith, equipped with leadership skills and excited about the mission of the church.
Given the conditions we face as a struggling church in today’s “wintry economic climate,” seminarians often feel left at the very bottom of the ladder or at the very back of the stove as a last priority. I would like to express my overwhelming gratitude for the incredible support I have received from the Upstate New York Synod. The synod makes me feel like an important individual who is heard and understood and my needs (which at times feel great) have been met. Because my family is in poverty, I would not be able to make it through seminary without this support. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Josiah Armstrong, student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Since 2006, the Rev. Arden Strasser has served with the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia, to reinvigorate and strengthen the church and develop all aspects of ministry, including outreach, church administration, and leadership. The ELC-Zambia is quickly changing, and in order to increase management capacity for effective change, he functions as a mentor, advisor, and collaborator.
He says, “I don’t work alone, but always with another Zambian pastor.” Even after years in Africa, Pr. Strasser is still learning to communicate more effectively cross-culturally and is grateful for the unique ways Christ is revealed in the church in Zambia. Besides work with the leaders in the capital city, Lusaka, he is also involved with congregations throughout Zambia for workshops, outreach, worship, a micro-credit development program and the implementation of anti-malaria education. Your powerful partnership, as an ELCA congregation member, is truly valued and appreciated by the ELC-Zambia.
The Companion Synod Program is a concrete expression of the communion fellowship among the 140 member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). It’s also an exciting way to engage in global mission! The Upstate New York Synod has two companion synods: ELC-Zambia and ELC-Zimbabwe, each located in southern Africa. Companion Synod relationships embody the concept of accompaniment: walking together in service and celebration.
Our partnership with ELC-Zimbabwe matches congregations to parishes and the synod office to the national church. This relationship grows through mutual visits by lay and ordained leaders to and from Zimbabwe. Our congregations that are partnered with Zimbabwe parishes are encouraged to pray for one another and to share the gifts each has to offer. Sharing material gifts means a Zimbabwe parish can purchase altar cloths, communion supplies, choral music, or digital access to facilitate communication.
The relationship with the ELC-Zambia is newer, and is between the national church and Upstate New York congregations. In addition to prayers and communication, our congregations have collaborated to provide Kindles for pastors (pre-loaded with books for pastoral education, Martin Luther’s works, etc.) Congregations contributed to the purchase land and seed for sustainable rice farming and the building of a nursery school.