A View from Campus - Multiple-Campus Ministry in Pittsburgh
“Many members, one Body”
The Communion of the Holy Spirit through Pittsburgh’s Campus Mission
by Eric R. Andræ, Campus Pastor, Pittsburgh, www.LSFPgh.com
“The grace of our Lord + Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
This is often the blessing by which we depart and are sent at the end of our weekly gatherings of Lutheran Student Fellowship (LSF). We have sat at table together, breaking bread and conversing about things both sublime and ridiculous (see picture below); we have been immersed in God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions; and we have listened, prayed, sung, and blessed. Through homemade dinners, Bible Study, and worship (and in many other ways) we are a blessed “communion of the Holy Spirit.”
But, who are “we?” Well, unlike most campus ministries, we are made up of students from numerous universities and colleges. First Trinity Lutheran Church is the home of your Pittsburgh chapter of LSF/ISM/Christ on Campus/LCMSU. First Trinity is within walking distance (less than one mile) of the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and (within two miles) of Chatham University and Carlow University. Duquesne University, Point Park University, Community College of Allegheny Country (CCAC), and the Art Institute are located within five miles of First Trinity. We also serve students at La Roche College (10 miles) and Robert Morris University (20 miles). The two largest (over 40,000 students combined) and closest schools, Pitt and CMU, have approved LSF as a recognized student organization (RSO) since 1998 and 2003, respectively. As such, we have two sets of student officers that represent us on these campuses. Also, at Pitt and CMU, as well as at Chatham, Pastor Eric Andræ, our campus chaplain, has – since being called in February 2001 as the first full-time LCMS campus minister in Pittsburgh – been a member of the three Associations of Chaplaincies; he walks over to and spends a great deal of time on these three campuses: (in no particular order) counseling, playing basketball, lecturing at both Christian and non-Christian group meetings, praying, socializing, studying, catechizing, engaging the (pop) culture, evangelizing, following up with visitors, defending the faith, sharing meals with students and faculty and staff, seeking out the inactives, fostering a sense of community, hearing private confession and absolving, recruiting and training and meeting with student leaders, promoting our activities, participating in ecumenical activities to the extent conscience and confession allow, leading worship, preaching, etc.
However, because of the diversity of schools and because our campus mission has one full-time staff, First Trinity definitely serves as the main gathering place, the home base, and even a refuge for students from all these colleges. While we enjoy social and service events in and around the city, as well as on various campuses, First Trinity is where we regularly come together by the Spirit as one Body, wonderfully united as the liturgy of the Divine Service connects us to Christ, to each other, and to the Church of the ages. Today’s student has a place here! Our full-time pastoral staff, active student leadership, and central location provide excellent opportunity to gather together regularly as a true community of the Spirit, chiefly through the Sunday Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, but also through daily morning prayer, mid-week evening prayer, the diligent study of Scripture and the Book of Concord, congregational leadership, dinners, social activities, volunteerism (e.g., the student-initiated homeless ministry, English as a Second Language, etc.), and much, much more. From here, we send students on local and international mission and service projects, conferences, and regional retreats. This is a place for creating, nurturing, and proclaiming faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly a home where today’s student can live and belong and grow. We enjoy the excitement of collegiate friendship, the international flavor of the Pittsburgh schools, and the at-home feeling of the congregation.
Students from Pitt, CMU, CCAC, and Chatham enjoy an authentic French dinner prepared by Romain (far right), a Fulbright scholar from Dijon who was baptized in January
Initiated, formed, and sustained by the Spirit through his gracious means – For the student in Pittsburgh, regardless of school, this is the life together of the Church, here, in this place!
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
Rev. Eric R. Andrae is the campus pastor at First Lutheran Church and Luther House Student Center in Pittsburgh PA. You may contact him by visiting the ministry website lsfpgh.com