By Erin Hasty

When I started my PhD program, I didn’t think campus ministry was something I needed. It’s true that I “grew up” as an undergrad at an amazing ELCA-sponsored campus ministry at the University of Montana, and Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Chicago nourished me through a challenging MA program. But when I was admitted to UW-Madison, I had already lived here for two years. I had a church home, and more than enough demands on my time.

I made it one semester, though, before the welcoming pull of the campus center proved too much to resist. I stopped in for coffee one wintry afternoon, and blessedly, no one demanded my email address or insisted I sign up for anything. I chuckled at the sign that read, “We filter coffee, not people,” and poured myself a cup. A week or so later, there happened to be a Bible study and dinner right before my Thursday night class, and that sounded more fun than spending yet another two hours alone at the library. (By that time, I was willing to share my email!)

I’m so glad LCM became part of my grad school journey. When my husband and I were recently doing a calendar check-in, we were discussing the demands on our time that take our energy (often for very good reasons, but in ways that leave us tired). When I came to LCM on that week’s schedule, I said, “But that’s different. That fills me.” I’ve been blessed by Thursday evening worship, faith-focused discussions (both on Zoom and in person), and this year’s LCM visioning retreat. I have friends here—people who know my name, and with whom I share the mutual joy of recognition and belonging.

UW-Madison’s Memorial Union and Union South have been described as “campus’s living room,” but for me, that title belongs to LCM’s campus center. It’s where I can nap, be nourished, and make space for others, as others have made space for me. Shoes can come off, and defenses can come down. Surely the Lord is in this place.