ABOUT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY &
SUNY ESF LUTHERAN CAMPUS MINISTRY and STEP Center
Expanding Minds, Deepening Faith, Inspiring Service
Steppin’ Out of your World, Steppin’ into Another’s
LCM began in 1913 as a way for Lutheran students and their friends to gather for fellowship and support on the Syracuse University campus. One hundred years later, LCM continues to be an open community of worship, support, fellowship, and service with a broad ministry that includes students, faculty, staff, and the greater Syracuse community. LCM’s campus office is located in Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University quad on the lower level, room H005.
Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) at SU and SUNY-ESF is a dynamic community, rooted in worship, that nurtures growth and inspires service in the name of Christ. LCM partners with students, their families, and past and present members of the University, congregations, and community organizations to encourage the integration of faith and life.
Our mission at Syracuse has really been remarkable—always on the cutting edge—always witnessing to the wideness of God’s mercy and grace. Always active—showing in Word and Deed God’s Love for us is complete and comes with no strings attached.
Campus Church Partnership
The mission to witness to the Gospel on campus belongs to the whole church.
As our faith life proves over and over, when you give – you receive and the partnership between campus ministry and supporting congregations bears tremendous fruit for all involved. For example every fall LCM invites youth groups from CNY congregations to an football game and tailgate, or a concert providing a large scale youth event at the beginning of the program year. Through the STEP Center students volunteers are connected to service projects run by congregations, and congregations often benefit from student volunteers, who paint, or tutor, build websites, run audiology clinics or lead a youth program.
We know that college life presents many challenges, choices, and tough questions, especially as students start to sort out which career they should choose. The Campus Ministry brings God into the equation—as students think about their gifts and talents, we connect them to professionals from different fields living out their faith in the world of work and demonstrate the many ways in which Godliness can be manifested in everyday life. We nurture young people to grow into future leaders for congregations, in the workplace as well as for the ordained ministry, and we provide a community where everyone can be who they are, without judgement.
But don’t just take it from us; student Matt Attanasia sounds off about how he’s been affected by LCM:
“They say that a church is not a building, but its people, just as Lutheran Campus Ministry is not merely a student organization of religious service but a family. It is a fellowship of young men and women who have come together to share with one another and their community the amazingly eclectic messages of Christ in our lives.”
LCM students come together in a formal student association organization known as SULSA. They often meet at the Parsonage where Pastor Gail lives. The Parsonage is located at 100 Berkeley Drive, just one block from campus on the corner of Stratford where Ostrom turns into Berkeley. These spaces are where students’ dreams are nurtured, their ideas shared, and where friendships are born. They’re spaces for prayer and reflection, dancing, laughter, and cookie baking. They are focal points for LCM’s ministry at SU.
Pastor Gail Riina leads the Sunday services as well the other programs of the LCM.
After the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary, LCM is also considering adopting a revised mission statement after partnering with the Episcopal church to form Crossroads: an open faith community seeking spiritual growth through Christ-centered worship, hospitality, and community service.
Pastor Gail Riina has been providing pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, advising student leaders, and promoting educational programs as the chaplain of Lutheran Campus Ministry, one of the 10 chaplaincies in Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry for six years. When she meets someone new on campus she also introduces herself as the Director of the STEP Center, the interfaith service learning program of the ministry.
Pastor Gail also has a serious interest in art and poetry for personal inspiration and societal change. Pastor Gail says she gets lots of material from her two sons, Timothy and Joseph, and from her husband , Pastor John Ferrie, for her sermons. Rudy, the family’s large boned golden retriever, who survived after being run over by a school bus, is also a source of funny and inspirational stories. Spending time in nature is the way Pastor Gail relaxes – she loves to cross country ski in the winter and ride her bike in the summer.
During the 2009 STEP Center urban immersion retreat, Pastor Gail connected with a group of Syracuse University faculty working on an interdisciplinary high tech sustainability project. She became excited by the promise of innovation for solving environmental and economic problems and began working closely with various projects at SU’s School of Information Science. At the lab she focuses on community engagement in the process of need assessment, development of applications and adoption of innovations, especially in the areas of cultural preservation, healthcare and energy.
- 2011 New York State Department of Health Commissioner’s Special Recognition Award; for leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS
- 2008 Phil N. Knutson Award for Creativity and Risk-taking in Ministry – ELCA
The STEP Center is one of LCM’s partners in the Syracuse community. Through the STEP Center, we aim to get students to expand their horizons beyond the University—stepping into another’s world to make a difference. The Center offers both short and long term service opportunities, including those tied to participant’s fields of study.