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Center for Faith and Spirituality

Carthaginian Summer 2014

Building Faith Bridges

By Pastor Kara

As you can imagine, the question that I have answered a great deal over the last several months is, “So, how to do you like your new job?” And the answer always is, “I love it!”

There are many reasons I love being a campus pastor, so my answer is not always the same. Today, when I was asked the question, my answer had to do with the privilege it is to walk with students on their faith journeys. Like snowflakes, no two faith journeys look alike. I knew that when I started this new call, and some of my experiences in this first semester on the job reminded me of the truth of that statement.

On Wednesdays during April, I offered a Bible Study before the Holden Evening Prayer service.  It was a small group of students who were willing to give the new campus pastor a chance. I appreciated their willingness to share their own journeys and why they were willing to give an hour or more of their precious time to think about the “Big Words of Faith.”

The students came from several different Christian denominations. Most would claim the title of Christian, but one student didn’t identify that way. One student said it best “I’m ready to figure out what it is I believe and make it my own.” College is the perfect time to begin that part of the faith journey.

And this is what I love about being the campus pastor at Carthage. My job is to provide a space and place for all of the students, faculty, and staff to explore what it is that they believe and to own it. I love being a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and I own it. I love the focus on the extravagant grace of God for all people. I love the belief that we are 100 percent saint and 100 percent sinner.

I love the freedom of being a Christian. I have freedom from fear and death and freedom to serve and love those around me. This freedom allows me to love my neighbor, those who are different from me in belief, and ask them why they love being Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or agnostic, or Roman Catholic, or Methodist.

At the beginning of June, I had the opportunity (along with two other staff members and three students) to attend an interfaith conference at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. The main speaker was Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core. Eboo is a Muslim and loves his faith. He shared with us how important it is to own what you believe when having interfaith conversation. The image he gave us was that of a bridge (perfect for Carthage).

“A bridge goes from here to there and has to be made of something, preferably something solid. Without being anchored ‘here’, you can’t connect to ‘there,’” he said.

Students at Carthage live in a world of religious diversity on campus and will go out into the world of greater religious diversity. This is the space and place to take the time to figure out more clearly what you believe about who God is and to learn how to walk the bridge of understanding and learn what others believe.
What I love about this call to serve as the campus pastor at Carthage is the opportunity to be a bridge builder. I’m thankful for a faith that calls me into deeper community with others — those like me and those different from me.

I’m sure someone else will ask me soon what I like best about my new call. This is just one of my answers. Who knows that I will share next time the question is asked?

In Christ,
Pastor Kara

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.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

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    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

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    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

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    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

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    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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