Lutherans at UW-Madison Pioneered Campus Ministry
The Lutheran Church’s earliest work with state university students took place at UW-Madison, and procedures begun here became patterns for other campus ministries and Lutheran student organizations around the country. A group of seven students began meeting in a home on State Street in 1905. They discussed the need for an English-language church in Madison. This church became Luther Memorial.
In addition to the congregation, a Lutheran Student Association was formed by students who were active on campus but wished to retain their home church affiliation. The robust student group in Madison sent a representative to the first regional conference the next year.
The second national convention of the Lutheran Student Association of America was held at Luther Memorial Church in 1926, with excellent local student leadership. Ministry among students at UW-Madison continued to flourish in the following decades.
In 1942, the first building was obtained for the purpose of student ministry. The Allen House, located at 228 Langdon Street, became a gathering place near campus. Larger student events continued to take place at Bethel and Luther Memorial church. In 1948, because of the growing ministry, a larger facility was needed. A new house was constructed at 228 Langdon, which came to be known as the Lutheran Student House.
In the 1960’s, Lutheran Campus Ministry began using two houses located at 1025 and 1039 University Avenue to be more centrally located to the expanding campus. In 1966, the Langdon center was sold and the Lutheran Campus Ministry was housed on University. In the late 1970’s, the current facility at 325 N. Mills was constructed on the site of the two former University Avenue campus.
Throughout the decades, campus ministry in all its locales as touched many hearts and shaped many lives.
Ministry Highlights by Decade
- Theologian Joseph Sittler spoke on campus for “Religious Emphasis Week”
- Progressive suppers we held between Luther Memorial, Central Lutheran, St. John’s, and Bethel Lutheran churches
- The Lutheran Student Choir performs on CBS’s broadcast, “Church of the Air”
- 1951 Student Study-Service trip to Norway & 1958 Students’ Tour of Europe (43 days, 7 countries, cost $995)
- Sunday Evening Club – supper, speaker, discussion, recreation
- Athletics – basketball, football leagues, swim parties, & bowling
- Dramas performed: “A sleep of prisoners” & “The sign of Jonah”
- “Dialog” created – an ecumenical organization that discussed issues of faith & science, education, psychology, and more