God the Father gives His Son as a gift to the world, and His Word unwraps that gift and holds Christ up for the whole world to see! 

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Life is anything but normal for Lutheran college students after they step away from church, home and family. Today’s post-modern college campus provides them with a challenging climate, where the reliability and truth of God’s Word is mocked and their faith in Christ is often ridiculed.

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St. Peter implores all of us to “always be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Unwrapped, this week’s LCMS campus ministry conference, and the continuing work of LCMS campus ministries, provides instruction and answers for college-age youth to represent for Christ and seize opportunities to confess their faith to their roomies, classmates or even hostile professors.

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From January 3-5, 2013, more than 425 college students and pastors gathered in St. Louis at St. Louis University to unwrap God’s Word and teach church workers and young people alike ways to share the gift of Christ with those around them.  While the rest of the world is putting away their lights and taking down their Christmas trees, they began 2013 by unwrapping God’s Word together so that they might share the gift of Christ with others.DSC_1273

Students heard from the plenary speaker, Mr. Craig Parton, a trial lawyer and as the U.S. Director of the International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Parton examined the remarkable decline of American evangelicalism, why so many are going to Rome, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Calvinism, as well as why many Lutherans are trying to be Baptists at the very moment Baptists are wanting to know how to become Lutherans!

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Students also attended sectionals presented by LCMS President the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, the Rev. Joshua Gale of Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries, the Rev. Todd Wilken of Issues, Etc., LCMS Director of Worship the Rev. William Weedon and others.

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Attendees also spent time in worship three times each day beginning with Morning Praise at 9:00 a.m., Evening Prayer at 5:00 p.m., and Compline at 11:00 p.m. The Rev. William Weedon and the Rev. David Kind, University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis, Minn., served as liturgists. Cantor Paul Soulek of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Seward,  Neb., led the music along with additional instrumentalists and vocalists. Preachers serving were Rev. Marcus Zill, LCMS coordinator for campus ministry and pastor of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center, Laramie, Wyo.; the Rev. Jay Winters, LCMS assistant coordinator for campus ministry and University Lutheran Church and Student Center, Tallahassee, Fla.; the Rev. Kent Pierce, associate pastor of Campus Lutheran Church, Columbia, Mo.; and the Rev. Steven Smith, assistant professor of Theology and campus pastor at Concordia University Wisconsin.

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“There have been a lot of people holding campus ministry together … for the last 20 years. These groups deserve our thanks,” said the Rev. Marcus Zill, LCMS campus coordinator for Campus Ministry. “We have been hard at work to work toward a fresh new face, a new name, a new logo, a new structure, as we seek to put campus ministry back under the hood, something that we can rally around.”

“Those of us in campus ministry for the last decade have longed to have a conference like this,” explained Zill. “We’ve longed, not just to gather together around God’s Word and Sacrament and fellowship with one another, but also for the Synod to see us.”