Our Campus Ministry program is designed to help students grow through more than simply grades and diplomas.
“There are so many intangibles that go into developing a person. When a student goes to Finlandia University and involves themselves in the many activities we offer, it tells you more about the path that they go in, and if they actually came to understand themselves more fully. Ultimately, that’s the mission of all of us at Finlandia, to help these students grow.” – Campus Pastor Rev. Soren Schmidt
Schmidt works hard to connect with students where they are. That includes hosting nontraditional events like movie nights, open mic performances and making connections with students through things like Finlandia’s curling and performing arts clubs.
Love, honesty, respect, and a teachable heart mark Christian accompaniment. The grace-centered accompaniment of Finlandia Campus Ministry walks alongside students, faculty, and staff so that the unconditional love of God offered to all in Jesus Christ may be clearly expressed and experienced. Grace-centered accompaniment offers opportunities that enrich faith toward God and enliven love toward neighbor.
Faith toward God is nurtured through Christian practices such as prayer and meditation, study, and the thoughtful reading of Christian scripture. Community worship is part of the spiritual life of the university. Through Word and Sacrament, God’s love and favor is heard and received. Finlandia Campus Ministry provides opportunities for and encourages participation in these and similar faith practices.
The 2000-built Chapel of St. Matthew is located at the center of the Finlandia University campus. That’s purposeful as it is a building that’s central to many of the activities that take place on a weekly basis on our campus.
The university community worships in the upper level sanctuary. The Campus Ministry Center, in the lower level of the chapel, is used by students and faculty for meetings and fellowship activities. The office of the Campus Pastor is also located on the lower level. The cross on the steeple and many chancel furnishings were designed and produced by the university’s art and design students and faculty.
The sanctuary holds an 18th-century crucifix originally commissioned for the Bishop of Constance, Meersburg, Germany. The cross is hand-carved from German pinewood. If you ever find yourself making a visit to campus, be sure to stop by this unique space.
Finlandia University was founded in 1896 as Suomi College, but its heritage extends hundreds of years before that. Finnish people developed the attitude of “sisu” (pronounced – see’-soo) or “persistence and determination” during the early years of their country’s formation. It is with this steadfast attitude that Suomi College was established. After years of hard labor in the Upper Peninsula mining and lumber camps, Finnish immigrants began to dream of a better life for their children and future Finnish-American generations. They found their answer in Suomi College.
Although the first graduating class consisted of only 11 men and women, the college persisted and in 1899 acquired its first building, Old Main. The Finns recognized the need not only to educate their children, but to maintain their cultural heritage. Hence, the college served many purposes in its early years: preserving Finnish culture, upholding and teaching the tenets of the Lutheran religion, training Lutheran ministers, and educating students in English and other skills that would provide job opportunities in their new land.
Today, campus ministry through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is an opportunity unique to Finlandia University and its 25 peer ELCA institutions. It’s core to what makes these institutions a place to receive more than just a career-preparing degree, but instead a life-changing opportunity for whole-person growth.