Campus Ministry Matters

Ecumenism or not Ecumenism?

The age old question that keeps coming up for me is the question of ecumenical campus ministries.  Now, there are lots of ideas about this, but I’d like to address the fervency of individual denominations wanting to protect their own, only caring about their own, and really only wanting to relate to their own campus ministries.  Ok, sure, we are told, “go ahead and talk to those other groups.  Even work with them.  But in the end, remember that you are a _______ looking for ________ students.  Right….

This issues is a big one for me, but the other day it came to a head.  Here at the University of Minnesota, we have a group called the ICC or Interfaith Campus Coalition.  We are the groups on campus who won’t tell you you’re going to hell no matter what you believe and we are the ones who promote healthy dialogue.  The campus will call upon us at times.  But right now, we’re working on getting access to work with the first year programs office, the parent program, and ultimately to gain “U-card” status on this campus (what I call the holy grail of campus ministry).

The only reason we have been able to move anywhere near this holy ground is because of our ecumenical partnerships.  Sure, we have different denominational campus ministries, and if we can afford it sure, you can have those.  But we’re not just out after our own gains in this field.  Without the presence of other campus ministries, our ICC would have never crossed out of the wilderness and been this close to Jordan.  We carry the load together, working together to create a more positive expression of faith on campus and we are privileged that we might get to that place where the University recognizes us as officially part of them.

This is the nature of the world around us.  Whether we are on campus or out in the real world (I consider campus to be the real world by the way) the sense that working together is a faux pas of ministry is ridiculous.  We might be United Methodists, but we want to welcome everyone, including the Lutherans 🙂  We don’t want to get so rigid that we can’t find ways for God to be seen on our campuses.  So the question becomes how we live out an ecumenical faith while also acknowledging that not everyone understands us.  Perhaps the answer is in the question.  Thoughts?