Part of the Change

“It made me glad that the world was broader than my experience growing up.”

Hold a Conversation

Can you imagine leading a conversation about this story? Where? With whom? What kinds of questions would you pose? (See How to use the questions for reflection for one approach.) Please email your questions to us or post them in the comment box for our consideration. If you use them in an actual discussion, let us know how the conversation went.

Transcript for Part of the Change

I grew up in Detroit in an all white community at that time but the congregation I attended was farther back into the city on East Grand Boulevard. And I can remember as a thirteen year old we got a new pastor and the first thing he did was to have a vacation Bible school for the community. And the community all around the church was African American and that was the beginning of the church becoming integrated and serving its community, and that was a wonderful experience for me meeting some of those families and being a part of that. It was life changing.

Part of that experience of our congregation at St. Mark’s reaching out to the community was getting to know African American families and I became close to some of them singing in the choir and teaching vacation Bible school with them in subsequent years and you know I think there’s no one experience, but it made me glad that the world was broader than my experience in high school or growing up in elementary school and made me want to be a part of that kind of change that opened up the church so that it’s not exclusive but inclusive.

I came back last spring as interim ELCA pastor here at the chapel. I guess one of the things while I was here that I wanted to take advantage of is this international community, take advantage of it in the best way and that is by having some interaction between international students and the faith community that worships here on Sunday morning.

So I’ve tried a number of times to get, international students will read a lesson in their native language, Zulu or Russian, just to have a minimal kind of interaction with the international community and I think thats so very important not just so that some of the Christian international students see the worship community here, but so that there is some kind of connection between this faith community and the international community. The spirit comes through folks who live in South Africa and the Philippines and all different lands, and they enrich us by being part of our worship.

I think I like the increased diversity among the religious groups on the campus. I think there are some challenges. I don’t know, I’ve heard this second of third hand but that some of the evangelical students go to local congregations where the folks at that church pray for the conversion of the Valpo theology faculty. I feel like they’re uh, that some would give up on the chapel’s ministry and the theology of the theology faculty without having fully experienced it, and that’s painful for me to see.