A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC
Winnipeg, October 7, 2004 (ELCIC)--All who were present at the ELCIC 2003 National Convention in Camrose, and many more who were not, agonized over the future of Augustana University College. How was Augustana to preserve its ministry, its Lutheran history, and its reputation as a place where students count, where spirit matters, and where we can explore the healthy tensions between faith and reason?
Because of the mandate given to the negotiating team at the convention, exciting new opportunities now exist for both academic and pastoral ministries at the Augustana Faculty of the University of Alberta. Gone is the debilitating cumulative debt, and worries about maintenance, building a library and more classrooms, and making monthly salary payments. Aside from eliminating Augustana’s debt and increasing the operating grant by $7 million annually, the merger created one NEW and one REVITALIZED option for ministry.
THE NEW CREATION is the Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, which has a publicly funded director and operating budget. (Work continues on the creation of an endowment for expanding options of programming and the public sharing of resources.) Its central purpose is to bring interdisciplinary research to bear on issues of common concern in our public lives which are or could be impacted by religious commitments and perspectives.
As a first major public event the Ronning Centre is sponsoring a farm forum - Challenging Crisis and Cultivating Hopeful Alternatives, Nov. 6 to 7. This will be followed by a series of theological reflections by Rev. Dr. Cam Harder on rural challenges, Nov 7 & 8 (see http://www.augustana.ca/centres/crpl and click on Sow What or Theological Lecture Series).
THE REVITALIZED MINISTRY that grew out of the merger is Campus Ministry, backed by a groundbreaking, cost-sharing agreement with the University of Alberta. Two-thirds of the Lutheran campus pastor’s salary will come from the Augustana Faculty. Only one-third of the salary will need to come from friends and supporters of Augustana, from individuals and church agencies.
The Lutheran campus pastor will conduct an ecumenical ministry to preserve our tradition of having one unifying centre for worship and pastoral ministry on campus, rather than a splintering into many groups. We are currently in the search process for the Lutheran pastor to become our campus minister.
The Rev. Dr. Dittmar Mündel has been appointed interim director to establish the Centre, solicit input, raise awareness, begin some programming and search for the first director. For any suggestions please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Mündel writes, "All of you who have contributed in a variety of ways to Augustana by sending us students, praying for us, giving us good ideas, and giving generous donations, please continue to do so. The Augustana Faculty welcomes and needs your support in all these ways, as Augustana University College did over the past decades."