Vicar’s Corner, September 2017

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Vicar’s Corner
Most of my time in ministry at Grace Lutheran in Albuquerque, NM is spent with college students and young adults, who are college-aged. I have spent the better part of the last 2 years helping develop continuing Christian education for both the young adults and the high school students within our congregation, however I was asked by our church and Pastor Graff, along with Pastor Marcus Zill, Director of Campus Ministry for the LCMS, to help begin a college ministry on or near the campus at the University of New Mexico in the heart of the city. The University of New Mexico has a student population of around 28,000 enrolled and is in the top 100 of most diverse campuses in the nation. This being said, many of the world’s people groups are actually right here in Albuquerque at the UNM Campus, as the International Student Population is continuing to grow each year. This being said, UNM has been one of the few large Universities in our Synod that had no Lutheran Campus ministry of any kind for the last few years, other than a small ELCA housing area called “Luther House” and a the Lutheran Lobos which Pastors Lietzau and Graff helped to begin several years ago. College and the young adult years statistically are some of the most pivotal in a persons’ life, as it is in these years that as beliefs are challenged, adulthood begins and the first real challenges of life in the “real world” truly begin.

Father and mother are no longer reminding their child to go to church, and the difficulty, temptations and challenges of adulthood truly set in for many for the first time. This is where oftentimes one’s confessions and beliefs are truly challenged with not only the teaching and ideologies of various professors and universities, but with the reality that one has now a newfound freedom in both thought and action. Thankfully many of these students have, like Timothy in the scriptures, been taught well from childhood from both you, as parents and from our church or other faithful pastors, and yet this is the period in life where there is often the first real crises of thought and belief. There is really no better time to continue in catechesis that these years of college. In addressing the need for the Gospel and catechesis on the UNM campus, we will be ministering and caring for college students at the University of New Mexico, where the percentage of confessing Christians is one of the lowest in the country, and the percentage of Lutheran students is even lower.

As a core group, a small but eager group of Christians from mostly Lutheran churches and Grace Lutheran in particular make up the majority of our group, although a few of the students attend various churches with various confessions and are interested in hearing about what we Lutherans believe. We are continuing this semester with a weekly time of prayer and hearing and discussing our Lord’s Word, called Doxology, and we are affiliated with the LCMSU college ministry of the LCMS. Since we are a recognized student organization, which we registered last semester, we have the permission to meet right in the Student Union Building in one of the meeting rooms, or anywhere available on campus. We are also permitted to hand out flyers and promote our meetings through regular university means. The regular meeting and Bible study time will be crucial for not only building relationships with one another, but we will be able to pray together and hear from our Lord’s word together in an informal setting. In our regular meeting, together we will actually be using one of the liturgies within the LSB and will also be spending the semester talking and teaching on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and how it is relevant today, what it means and how it affects us in life & vocation. This is a critical time in a young adult’s life, where distinction of Law/Gospel, an understanding of the what the church is and is not, as well as what it looks like to live as a Christian in your various stations is reality, and because of what Christ has done and continues to do “FOR US” is both practical and comforting. With all of the cultural pressure a college student or young adult faces today, along with all of the false teaching and competing ideologies, the freedom of a life lived forgiven on account of Faith Alone, by Grace Alone, on account of Christ Alone, is crucial to navigating the complexities of life at any age. Please continue to keep us in prayer and help us spread the word to any college students in Albuquerque interested in attending.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Vicar Shamburger

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