The beauty of shared success, failure, and service
By Pastor Kara
As I write this article, I’m in Carefree, Arizona, at Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center with 20 other campus pastors from our sister ELCA colleges and universities. It is good to be out of the cold weather of Wisconsin and to feel temperatures above 30 degrees.
Soon I will be able to experience the same warmth in the beauty of Wisconsin. But it is even better to be with those who do the same work that I’m doing at Carthage.
It is a small group of ELCA clergy who serve in a college setting, and it is good to share our joys and our struggles. It is good to share times in worship and praise of God. It is good to share what is working on our campuses and hope that we can learn from one another. Our goal is to see vibrant campus ministries at all of our ELCA colleges, for the sake of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Campus ministry from the Center for Faith and Spirituality is growing and becoming stronger. This January, working alongside Professor Sandie Bisciglia, director of the Diversity Center, we sponsored our first Carthage Service Day. We had 40 students, faculty and staff members, and alumni come together on a Saturday morning to do service in the Racine and Kenosha areas.
“Sometimes in our busy lives, we forget how the simple, little things in life, such as working with others and giving back to the community, can brighten someone’s day. This service event truly reminded me to appreciate the little things and to perform simple acts of kindness each day!” — Cami Christopulos ’15
Volunteers broke up into small groups and donated time at five locations. We sorted donations at the ELCA Outreach Center in Kenosha and at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Racine, cooked the community meal to be served at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Racine, painted the dining area at the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization (HALO) and helped to shred confidential documents at Racine Vocational Ministry.
At each site, volunteers served but also learned about the nonprofit and how it is trying to make a difference in the world. Everyone in the group had a great experience and asked for more opportunities like this to get into our surrounding community to serve. The spirit of service is strong on campus.
In February, we held two Ash Wednesday services on campus. Around 200 members of the community came out to be reminded that they are dust and to dust they shall return. At the evening service, I encouraged the students not to give anything up for Lent; instead, I encouraged them to find ways to engage more deeply in their faith journey.
I was thrilled that they came to worship, and my hope and prayer is that, when they come back next Lent, they will know more about why they are coming, what their faith means to them, and how it impacts each day of their lives. I don’t believe they will have it all figured out — that is a lifelong journey — but at least they are on the path and gathering with others to share their joys and struggles, and to worship and praise God.
It is good to have completed my first year as campus pastor, and to see all the ways that the Center for Faith and Spirituality can grow and partner with others on campus to become more and more vibrant. It is good to gather to share our lives. It is good to gather to serve the community. It is good to gather in praise and worship of God.
The Carthaginian is a magazine for Carthage alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College. It is published three times a year by the Carthage Office of Communications. Read the Carthaginian online at www.carthage.edu/carthaginian.