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Lutheran Campus Ministry offers alternative spring break

The Minnesota Daily, the newspaper of the University of Minnesota, recognized a good thing when it saw it. The editorial board declared that the alternative spring break trip being planned by Lutheran Campus Ministry and a group of Muslim students modeled just “what the university needs more of — people talking [to each other] in a civil way.”

“We see the future of Lutheran Campus Ministry to be increasingly about convening unlikely partners to dialogue across various lines or issues of substance,” explained the Rev. Kate Reuer, campus pastor at the Minneapolis campus of the university.

That’s how the joint spring break trip got started. After a trip working with Lutheran Disaster Response in 2009, and a journey to Holden Village in 2010, the students decided at the beginning of this school year that they wanted to use the 2011 break to build relationships with Muslim university students.

Many Lutheran students returned from summer distraught over the scapegoating of Muslims they were hearing.

According to Reuer, many Lutheran students returned from summer distraught over the scapegoating of Muslims they were hearing. It was the time when a Florida pastor was threatening to publicly burn Korans and other similar negative stories. “They wanted to be part of the solution, not part of that particular problem,” Reuer explained.

After some initial conversations with Muslim student groups, and a few logistical calls, the group decided to go to New York March 14-19. Much of their time will involve volunteering with service agencies like Meals on Wheels, though “we are staying in Union Square, so the senior population will be a little different,” said Reuer.

Students will stay at Seafarers International House, a Lutheran mission that hosts people from all over the world. It is the Seafarers that provided many of the relationships to social service groups in which students will volunteer — food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters. And they specifically are interested in working with interfaith groups that will work with interfaith agencies.

A presence ministry

So, what will this mean for Lutheran Campus Ministry in the long term?

“Our students are struggling with questions of pluralism, so it’s silly not to engage those questions directly,” Reuer offered. “The students want to participate in building a better world through service, justice, hospitality.

“Spring break trips are interesting for watching how community forms, and to grow our campus ministry leaders,” Reuer said. “This trip will affect Lutheran Campus Ministry for years.”

Congregations that would like to support such activities are welcome to become involved with Lutheran Campus Ministry. For more information about the University of Minnesota’s ELCA Lutheran Campus Ministry, go to www.umnlutheran.org/

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