Steadfast on Campus- Daily Chapel at Secular U

August 30th, 2013 Post by

We have a beautiful and spacious building just one block from the university campus thanks to our generous congregation and the Iowa District East.  We boast a huge student center with a game room, plenty of quiet study space, a washer and dryer, a student office with computer, printer and desk, rooms with dry erase boards, a community chest full of goodies, full kitchen, a respectable library, fresh coffee, comfy coaches, air conditioning, a good furnace, and the like.  Yet, our building seemed awfully quiet many weekdays throughout the school year—quiet like the campus library, only worse, no one was here!

MatinsLSB However, this year and perhaps a little last year, it has picked up a bit.  Although I partly attribute this to our free wifi and comfy couches, I also have a few extra voices in the nave praying Matins each day!  To be sure, it is only a handful of students, but it has brought life to our student center.  Students are waking up to ride their bikes, drive their cars, and even walk to the church on weekday mornings to pray Matins.

It makes sense.  Students already have so many of the other activities on campus.  But, here they have a pastor and other like-minded Christians gathering to hear the words of eternal life and to pray.  Far from endless prattling and empty words, it is the one thing needed and the good portion which was commended by our Lord (cf. St. Luke 10:42).

In the little booklet, An Explanation of the Common Service, the question is asked, “Did the Reformers favor the retention of [Matins and Vespers] ?” And the answer is given, “Yes, Luther commended them for he found nothing in them but the words of Scripture, and he regarded them as invaluable aids in teaching the Word of God. For this reason they are the most appropriate forms of devotion for use in the Schools, Colleges, and Seminaries” (73).

Matins is described here as the “most appropriate form of devotion” for use in Colleges and I concur.  In my little experience over the last few years, it has been deeply edifying—even leading to much theological reflection and discussion with the students following the hearing of the Word.  Yet, what is my experience compared to the promise of Christ?: “If you abide in my Word, truly you are my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (St. John 8:31b-32).  The daily repetition and grounding in God’s Word of Truth (Jesus!) is needed to support the fragile faith in Christ that is battered about daily on campus!

Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;

Curb those who by deceit or sword

Would wrest the kingdom from your Son

And bring to naught all He has done. (LSB 655 v. 1)

Admittedly, I have deviated from Luther regarding the time of Matins.  He suggested, “This was the custom among Christians at the time of the apostles and should also be the custom now. We should assemble daily at four or five in the morning and have [God’s Word] read… And although these daily services might not be attended by the whole congregation, the priests and pupils, and especially those who, one hopes, will become good preachers and pastors, should be present” (American Edition of Luther’s Works, Vol. 53; 12-13).

Four or five in the morning?! Yikes! Nine in the morning is a bit more suitable for us. Perhaps still too early for some…

Nevertheless, we are pleased to be able to provide this “invaluable aid in teaching the Word of God” to students who attend a secular university.  We are even more delighted to see them choosing the good portion.



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  1. Joel A. Dusek
    August 30th, 2013 at 12:05 | #1

    What?! How is an old Latin-based, archaic service relevent and cool to young college students? Don’t you have a praise band and, like, totally Jesus party for the students? /sarcasm off/

    Good on ya!

  2. helen
    August 30th, 2013 at 13:08 | #2

    I cannot remember a semester in college when I did not have an 8 a.m. class.

    But I might have made your Matins at that, if breakfast came right after. :)

  3. Carol Broome
    August 30th, 2013 at 13:24 | #3

    When I was in college, the chapel instituted a Wednesday noon Divine Service at my request. It was great to be able to have Holy Communion and a full service in the middle of the week, and afterwards we would all eat bagged lunches downstairs in the church library and talk for a while before we went back to class.

  4. Rev.Dave Likeness
    August 30th, 2013 at 13:30 | #4

    How active is the LCMS campus ministry
    at the University of Iowa in Iowa City?

  5. Rev. W. Max Mons
    August 30th, 2013 at 14:05 | #5

    @Rev.Dave Likeness #3
    I serve the LCMS campus ministry at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Our campus ministry holds Divine Service each Sunday, along with Bible class. On Wednesday evenings we alternate between Divine Service and Vespers/Evening Prayer. We have an outreach to international students. Social activities abound. St. Paul’s is an active ministry and the Lord has blessed us!

  6. Rev.Dave Likeness
    August 30th, 2013 at 17:27 | #6

    Thanks Rev. Mons for the update. I appreciate the
    ministry of all campus pastors. They have a unique
    opportunity to provide spiritual support to our college
    students at a critical time in their life.

  7. A Layman
    August 31st, 2013 at 08:26 | #7

    May the Lord richly bless you all at U of I !!!

  8. Martin R. Noland
    August 31st, 2013 at 18:30 | #8

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    For LCMS readers wondering what is up with campus ministry these days, check out the new initiative called “LCMS U.” See

    Look at the right sidebar on that page, about mid-way down, to see a link to a map with campus ministry locations, filled with information about all of the LCMS campus ministries. Send the link to your sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and others that you know are heading to college this fall, as a way to encourage them to stay connected to the church!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. Monte Meyer
    August 31st, 2013 at 19:40 | #9

    Campus settings are such rich opportunities for mission work. I’m excited to hear how they are also reaching out on campus itself. There are so many unchurched and “de-churched” – it would be great to hear how they are taking advantage of this great evangelism opportunity.

    God continue to bless your work on campus reaching out with the Good news!!!

  10. Rev. Christian C. Tiews
    September 1st, 2013 at 08:16 | #10

    This is an excellent idea. I am including Grace Lutheran’s weekly Matins in our University of Tulsa student activities schedule.

  11. backinthefold
    September 3rd, 2013 at 11:07 | #11

    A nice side benefit to Pastor Wegener’s Matins service for his students is that those of us non-students who live or work near College Hill Lutheran Church can also attend.

    Singing the Venite with others is a wonderful way to start the day.

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