Last Sunday, work by Campus Ministry and Sonja Hagander to connect Pastor Mike Matson ’06 of Bethany Lutheran in the Seward Neighborhood with CAIR-MN, a nonprofit that supports our Muslim neighbors, was featured on the front page of the Metro section of the Star Tribune.
Hagander told the Star Tribune that partnerships such as that between Bethany and CAIR are crucial to building a multifaith community, something Augsburg College long has held a commitment to as a school of the Lutheran church.
Bethany, through Matson, and CAIR, via executive director Jaylani Hussein, are looking forward to continuing to grow their partnership.
Award-winning author, columnist, and professor Samuel Freedman featured five Augsburg College community members in a commentary for The New York Times’ On Religion section. The piece, “Muslim College Chaplains Extend a Hand Across Religious Divides,” highlighted the work of Muslim Student Program Associate and Chaplain Fardosa Hassan ’12.
As Freedman reported, Hassan is among dozens of chaplains on college and university campuses across the U.S. to “play a vital dual role: helping Muslim students feel welcome, and introducing Islam to non-Muslims.”
This work, according to Hassan, has the potential to assist students during their college days and positively influence individuals’ lives long after graduation.
“My role is to help students negotiate this multifaith, diverse environment,” Hassan explained to Freedman. “I’m going to give them a tool for when they go out of this institution, so they know how to be respectful of others. A lot of times, people are afraid even to ask the questions of people who are different. So I say, begin with friendship. Start by saying hello.”
In his column, Freedman acknowledges that interfaith conversations are meaningful and necessary not only on Augsburg’s campus but also just beyond its borders in Minneapolis.
Augsburg “is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has traditionally attracted the vast majority of its students from white Protestant denominations,” he writes. “Yet its campus directly abuts the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood that is the epicenter of Minnesota’s population of 31,500 Somali Muslims. Perhaps nowhere else in the United States does a hockey rink sit so close to a halal meat market.”
While Augsburg has been a collaborative neighborhood partner for many years, President Paul Pribbenow has deepened that commitment in an effort to help the College fulfill its calling to foster conversations between the diverse residents of its vibrant community.
The story touches on interactions between Hassan and Augsburg College students whom Hassan has helped reflect on their spirituality to consider how it shapes their interpretations of the world. In this role, Hassan partners with College Pastor and Director of Ministries Sonja Hagander in individually supporting students as they navigate highs and lows, challenges and opportunities, faith and even their final exams.
Person-to-person efforts, according to Hassan, are at the heart of her work.
Five days a week, Minneapolis community members convene at Bethany Lutheran Church to dine on gourmet fare prepared as part of the Soup for You Cafe — a program recognized by the Star Tribune for its ability to “redefine the soup kitchen.”
Augsburg College alumnus, Chaplain to Student Athletes, and linebacker coach Rev. Mike Matson ’06 is the pastor at Bethany Lutheran and the driver behind this community meal. Supported by volunteers and one talented chef, Soup for You is a chance for people of varying backgrounds to come together in an environment that focuses on dignity. In the article “Church program offers hot soup, warm welcome,” Matson underscored that the program focuses on bringing people together.
“Our model is mutuality, and what better way is there to show mutuality than to gather at the same table together?” he said.
Rev. Patricia Lull was elected the first female bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Lull, who served as staff for Augsburg’s campus ministry, was elected on the fifth ballot. Previously, Lull was executive director of the St. Paul Area Council of Churches. Read “ELCA’s east metro synod selects its first woman as bishop” in the Star Tribune.
Jeanette Clark ’07 and Antonio Spargo ’07 don’t know a lot of the current Day students. That’s because most of them were in high school when Clark and Spargo last attended Augsburg. So now that they are back on campus as campus ministry interns, they believe their most important job responsibility is getting to know students.
Both Clark and Spargo have been studying at Luther Seminary, and each has completed at least one internship already. Dave Wold, who knew Clark and Spargo because of their involvement with campus ministry as undergraduates, contacted the seminarians this summer and asked if they would like to work at Augsburg this fall.
When Sarah Ruch and Joe Midthun applied for their internship placements, neither expected to find themselves on a college campus. Sarah and Joe are students from Luther Seminary who are working this year with the campus ministry department at Augsburg. As interns, Sarah and Joe have been planning and presiding over chapel services, preaching, and teaching.
Sarah is originally from Fremont, Neb. and has a BA in English from Midland Lutheran College. She is married (her husband is also a student at Luther) and has two young children. Sarah wanted to complete her internship in the Twin Cities to stay with her family. Though she likes working at Augsburg, she said it’s not what she expected. “Working at a college is relational ministry,” she said. “Augsburg is a congregation but in a different setting.” Continue reading “Meet Sarah and Joe, campus ministry interns”→