Campus Ministry

Featured / January 13, 2016

+ The Rev. John Rosenberg, interim campus pastor
+ Joanna Royce-Davis, Ph.D., vice president for student life
+ The Rev. Richard Jaech, bishop, Southwestern Washington Synod
+ The Rev. Melanie Wallschlaeger, director for Evangelical Mission, Southwestern Washington Synod

PLU embraces its middle name—its Lutheran heritage and higher education values that engage students, faculty and staff from all faith and religious backgrounds (or no religious affiliation) in meaningful and authentic ways.

The university exists at the intersection of spiritual diversity and change in the Pacific Northwest, an area known as an exciting spiritual frontier and simultaneously, in contrast, known as the “none zone.”

PLU continues to build on that foundation, being genuinely hospitable to all as it reshapes its Campus Ministry program during this 2015-16 academic year.

Last spring, the university, in partnership with the Southwestern Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (the church body with which PLU is affiliated), began the first comprehensive review of Campus Ministry in more than 20 years. The ministry review strives to strengthen and deepen Campus Ministry in every way possible.

The first part of the review created dialogue with members of the multifaith community, including students, faculty, staff, administrators, family members, alumni and area clergy from the ELCA and ecumenical partners.

These conversations unearthed common themes, forming a set of preliminary recommendations to craft a job description for Interim Campus Pastor John Rosenberg (who serves through May 2016) and the 2015-16 work of the Campus Ministry Council. The CMC is made up of faculty, students and administrators (including President Tom Krise and Vice President for Student Life Joanna Royce-Davis) who oversee spiritual and religious life on campus. The CMC serves an important role in selecting and calling a long-term campus pastor.


Campus Ministry Review team appointed by PLU in partnership with the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA.

First phase of stakeholder conversations takes place with students, faculty, staff, administrators, area clergy, parents, alumni and friends of the university.


Interim university pastor appointed through May of 2016 and begins work in responding to first draft of review recommendations.


Second phase of stakeholder conversations takes place at faculty Fall Conference and in formal stakeholder gatherings.

An online survey of student spiritual and religious life garners more than 900 responses from students.

Campus Ministry Council (CMC)—the student/faculty group responsible for spiritual and religious life on PLU campus— reforms, elects chair and begins bringing CMC Constitution up to date.


Campus Ministry Review complete and CMC begins consultative oversight over prioritization and implementation of review recommendations.

CMC appoints nominating committee per its constitution (similar to a call committee in a local congregation).


University pastor job description is developed based on the recommendations from the Campus Ministry Review and related vision for the role of Campus Ministry.

University pastor position posted and nominations for university pastor received through the Office of the Bishop of the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA.


Synod conducts initial screening and presents nominating committee with names of five to seven qualified candidates.


Nominating committee selects candidates for interviews and hosts interview opportunities for stakeholder engagement with candidates.

Vice president for student life and interim university pastor respond to Campus Ministry review staffing recommendation by drafting a job description for a coordinator position in the CM office.


Interviews for university pastor continue.

Nominating committee presents the names of three finalists to the university president and vice president for student life, who make a consensus selection of the university pastor.


Southwestern Washington Synod Council issues call.

Progress update on review recommendations is shared with stakeholders.


New university pastor begins duties at PLU.


New university pastor installed by Bishop Jaech.

Second progress update on review recommendations is shared with stakeholders.

Traditional expectations of the campus pastor include:

  • Providing leadership for worship life and serving as pastor of University Congregation.
  • Providing pastoral care for members of the university community.
  • Participating in the ceremonial life of the university.

While these roles for the pastor remain central, new expectations (based on the review team’s recommendations) include:

  • Developing a cadre of ecumenical and interfaith partner chaplains who can assist in providing pastoral care for PLU’s diverse, multifaith community.
  • Expanding, with these partners, the range of available opportunities to engage spirituality and worship.
  • Developing partnerships with faculty and staff to provide learning opportunities around questions of identity, vocation, diversity, justice, sustainability and other topics relevant to PLU’s mission of educating students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care.

These words ring clear in the review team’s vision for Campus Ministry moving forward: relationship, partnership, collegiality, collaboration, participation, celebration and service.

A second part of the ministry review in the fall drew from conversations with stakeholders and an online survey of students, pinpointing campus-wide spiritual practices and needs.

The results of the two-part review will guide the selection and call of a new campus pastor and help shape the future of Campus Ministry at PLU.

The history of Campus Ministry at PLU is filled with stories of faithful and creative pastors and a program that successfully negotiated a variety of transitions throughout its 60-year history. While each pastor brought different gifts to new and dynamic situations, they all had one thing in common: a conviction that God accompanies us along the journey of faith. It’s exciting to think about what God has in store for Campus Ministry at PLU. Stay tuned!

Logan Seelye

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