Your Board of Higher Education and Student Ministries is proud to bring you this occasional series of articles about the people of faith and the ministry of joy that overflows your campus ministries in Wisconsin. If anyone tells you that the Church is dying, all you have to do is point them to your campus ministries across our Annual Conference! There you will find hope, deep faith, great food, and holy humor. Your support of campus ministry across our Conference makes it possible for students to explore and develop their faith in safe, inspiring surroundings. Your campus ministers are dedicated and enthusiastic. They encourage student leadership; foster engagement with the needs and challenges of the community and the world; and help students deepen their relationship with God, with others, and with themselves. 

Here’s one story:

Journey House, an ecumenical student ministry located at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, has jumped into a new academic year with enthusiasm and vision. With the renewal of some existing ministries, and the addition of some new ministries, we are reaching even more students with hospitality, joy, and space for faith exploration, conversation, and prayer. We began the semester with a back-to-school celebration, including a mobile pizza truck, yard games, and plenty of time for fellowship and conversation. As students began to engage in their studies, we created opportunities for them to share home-cooked meals on Monday evenings. These meals are prepared by the ministry staff and student leaders, as well as local congregations, and campus organizations; and we typically feed about 50 students each week. On Tuesday evenings, we enjoy a contemplative worship service where we sing Holden Evening Prayer, have time for interactive/sensory prayer, and reflect on Scripture. On Thursdays, we try to be a bit more accessible to students, so we reserve a space on campus and invite students to a ministry called “This I Believe,” which includes a light lunch and a time to hear from a variety of guest speakers who share something they are passionate about. This fall we heard from a Somalian refugee, a Christian painter, a “retired” special Olympics athlete, an advocate for domestic abuse, and a woman who specializes in mindfulness, to name a few. Interspersed with these “regular” ministries, we also offered opportunities for service as we carpooled to Feed My Starving Children, and packed meals for hungry children all over the world. We also enjoy being among the students each month on campus, and found creative ways to do outreach, offering a quick snack (root beer floats, caramel apples, etc.) and a bit of joy as we said “hello.” Journey House also scheduled three creative activities for the fall - a painting class, a Norwegian flat-plane carving class (led by a really cool professor!), and a station for making Christmas ornaments. We ended the semester with a Christmas party, complete with gingerbread houses and treats, and decorating and caroling at the local care center. Spring semester will be full to the brim with more opportunities to dig into our faith, explore opportunities to become more intentional leaders, get creative, reach out into the community, begin an on-campus food pantry for students who are food insecure, and have a little fun along the way! Stay tuned! God’s continued peace to you all. By Laura Ramlow, Campus Minister