The NEXUS Institute wrapped up its 2021 “All Things New” week on July 17th with much thankfulness and hope. Check out a bit of what we did!
This summer’s institute brought youth from different Lutheran denominations together for a week of on-campus learning and growing in faith and calling. We had 17 students participate, representing ELCA, NALC, and LCMC congregations and 7 U.S. states (IA, NE, IL, PA, CA, TX< & CO). We had seven college mentors, two of which are Grand View students, and we rejoiced that all mentors returned from NEXUS 2020 Online to serve again. The week of July 11-17 fell right into the time period where COVID numbers had been lower but the COVID delta variant was also ramping up. We had a couple of students tested while on campus and were results came back negative, for which we were very thankful!
Our first theology class, taught by the Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes and sponsored by Lutheran Bible Institute, focused on the book of Ezekiel. Our second class, taught by the Rev. Dr. Ken Jones and sponsored by 1517, consisted of content from his book “A Lutheran Toolkit.” Evening classes focused on the topics of conflict resolution, types of prayer, Spiritual GPS, Sacred Pathways assessments, how to write a devotional and lead and Bible study, and an introduction to mentoring.
Each afternoon, we focused on fellowship by going on adventures in the area. This summer, we enjoyed yard games on campus, the Blank Park Zoo, the Des Moines Art Center, the Science Center, and Adventureland. Participants enjoyed riding on the Grand View bus and seeing more of the university’s surroundings.
NEXUS Late Night, our talk show where we interview those who work in ministry vocations, was a hit again this year. This summer’s guests were Katie Knoepke (a NEXUS college mentor going to missionary school and preparing for mission work in Hungary), Erik Ullestad (who has experience in youth ministry and is currently working in church communications and administration), Andrea Severson (a licensed mental health counselor and spiritual director), Alexander Krumm (who has experience in camp ministry, college ministry, and is currently working in leadership coaching and church communications), and Dr. Trisha Wheellock (a professor of Bible, philosophy, and liberal arts with experience as a pastor). Participants got to ask questions of each interviewee, and contact information was provided to the many participants who desired further conversations with our visitors.
One of our hopes at NEXUS is to show students there are many faithful ways to worship. Morning worship took place in Luther Memorial Church’s beautiful sanctuary. We had call to worship, prayer, the singing of hymns with piano, and a message each day in a more traditional style. Evening worship took place in Luther Memorial’s new Fellowship Hall. It included reflection time, singing with a band, a devotion given by a college mentor each night, and Communion in a more contemporary style. We feel blessed to begin and end each day in worship together.
Small group time happened in the morning after classes and again in the evening. Each college mentor had 2-3 participants as their mentees for the week. Groups spread out around the church and discussed class topics and whatever else came up naturally. There was much laughter, a lot of in-depth conversations, and a few tears. It was so wonderful to see the students bonding, sharing freely, pointing each other to Jesus, and praying for each other.
It was a great week and we are so thankful to our generous sponsors: Grand View University; Luther Memorial Church of Des Moines, IA; the North American Lutheran Church (NALC); Lutheran Core; 1517; the Lutheran Bible Institute (LBI); Rasmussen Group; Trinity Lutheran Church of Ashland, OH; Lutheran Church of the Cross of Altoona, IA; and our individual sponsors! Thank you for your support of The NEXUS Institute in raising up the church leaders of tomorrow! Stay tuned for plans for our 2022 institute.
Kate Faas, NEXUS Director