Campus Ministry Update from the Pacific Southwest

Typically I write for Brothers of John the Steadfast on apologetics, an area of special interest. However, in this article I take a brief diversion from the regular scheduled apologetics column to report on another area that is near and dear to my pastoral formation and ongoing work in the community. And this is no unnecessary diversion. Apologetics and campus ministry have a symbiotic relationship. A great many conversations I engage in at local campuses (UCLA, Goldenwest College, etc.) employ apologetics to some degree or another.

Furthermore, recent events in Lutheran campus ministry nationwide – i.e. the sale and desacrilization of ULCMN – cannot help but cause deep concern among those intent on preserving, protecting and promulgating campus ministry in our church and for the sake of the gospel. I cannot add anything in this article that hasn’t already been said in the many well-written articles on ULCMN. But there is one connection between ULCMN and ULC at UCLA that I think is worth exploring.

When it comes to the ULCMN, I can’t help but recall Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” What good God will work out of the heart-wrenching sale of the ULCMN is yet unknown to us. And yet, the Lord is faithful. Even though men in synod, district and bureaucracies will fail us, Christ’s promises never fail.

And as I reflect upon the actions taken by the PSD in convention, I can’t help but think that one of those unknown, mysterious good things that the Lord is working  is the support of campus ministry here in the PSD, especially at UCLA. Last week at the Pacific Southwest District (PSD) convention steps were taken to secure and protect both campus ministries and their facilities at UCLA and UCSD La Jolla.

However, if a delegate were looking only at the resolutions the floor committee brought to the convention one would never have known that campus ministry was in danger, much less of any importance to anyone in the PSD. Out of eight resolutions in direct support of campus ministry in the PSD, the following resolution was brought to the convention floor.

12-05 SALE OF DISTRICT PROPERTIES

Addresses overtures 1-8 “Sale of Property”, and Arizona Hispanic Ministry Overture

WHEREAS, the BOD had a goal of reducing PSD’s indebtedness from $8M to $2M, and

WHEREAS, the BOD has deeded five properties to LCEF, reducing indebtedness to $2.3M, and

WHEREAS these five properties are; Castaic, Indio, Grace-Corona, St. Mark’s-Anaheim, and ASU-Tempe, and

WHEREAS, existing ministries that may currently meet at these properties will be supported in relocation; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the BOD remain in control of decisions regarding the disposal of District properties, and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the PSD BOD is encouraged to remain cautious that the disposal of properties not endanger existing ministries.

 

You can find all the overtures on campus ministry in the convention work book for the PSD here. And the floor committee resolutions that were issued prior to any discussion, amendments or voting can be found here.

Thanks be to God that when the above resolution came up for discussion in the orders of the day, there was a resounding discussion in favor of campus ministry, retaining the properties the PSD did have, and an overall tone of seeking to further protect and support campus ministry in the PSD. Above all, the above resolution was also amended to read the following:

Resolution 12-05 A: Sale of District Properties

WHEREAS, the BOD had a goal of reducing PSD’s indebtedness from $8M to $2M, and

WHEREAS, the BOD had deeded five properties to LCEF, reducing indebtedness to $2.3M, and

WHEREAS, these five properties are; Castaic, Indio, Grace-Corona, St. Mark’s-Anaheim, and ASU-Tempe, and

WHEREAS, existing ministries that may currently meet at these properties will be supported in relocation; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the BOD remain in control of decisions regarding the disposal of all District properties, except those campus ministry properties, which will be decided by the PSD at convention, and be it

RESOLVED, that the PSD BOD develop a process to inform all congregations and hear appeals concerning the disposal of properties, and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors publicize all property sales and transfers on the district’s web site and prepare a comprehensive report of all district properties including their current use, occupancy, condition, indebtedness, and fair market value for the 2015 district convention.

 

I have added the key RESOLVED in bold for emphasis. This was the key part of the amendment. Many thanks for the hard work of the student leadership at UCLA, Pastor Mark Jasa and especially Pastor William Cwirla for bringing the above amendments to the floor for discussion and voting. Ultimately, after the discussion subsided and an amendment was made, the amended resolution passed by an overwhelming majority. Of course there is much more work to do in support of UCLA. The convention may be over but the work of the Church in Word and Sacrament does not stop for voting delegates, whether the ministry is supported or sold. And I continue to grieve for Pastor Kind and the congregation at ULCMN even as I also pray for  more joyful days as they continue to labor in the gospel on campus and in their community. Here in Southern California a cautious victory in favor of campus ministry has been won. And for that we are thankful. Together UCLA, ULCMN and all our campus ministries declare and defend the gospel following in a grand campus ministry tradition that began in 1517 and will remain even when steeples are falling.

 

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