An Uncommon Blessing2 min read

Every time I drive north on U.S. 23, north of I-96, I find myself smiling when I pass my favorite billboard. I smile because I know the person pictured, and I am humbled and honored to know his story. The same is true when I travel on I-94, just west of Ann Arbor.

Maybe you have noticed our billboards along major freeways and interstates in Michigan, or maybe you have seen some of our marketing campaigns on the internet or television. If so, you can identify with the words: Live Uncommon. At Concordia University Ann Arbor, our sincere desire for every student is that these words would not simply be a motto, but rather a lifestyle. As we live in the midst of an uncommon time, Concordia is committed to fulfilling our mission of “developing students in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world.” Ours is an uncommon mission and it certainly cannot be realized alone.

The Here We Stand campaign is an uncommon blessing—and in particular, an uncommon gift to our Concordia students. Through the generosity of faithful congregations and individuals, students preparing for service to Christ in the Church have been and continue to be encouraged in their educational pursuits through professional church worker scholarships. Every dollar makes a difference. Every prayer is heard by our Almighty God. Every word of encouragement gives hope to a student in the midst of a challenging or overwhelming semester. On behalf of our entire Concordia community—thank you.

We recently completed an uncommon semester. Like others in higher education, we moved our face-to-face classes online for the second half of the spring semester. Students who lived on campus moved home. The plans of many were disrupted and the dreams of some were put on hold. However, in the midst of it all, and still in the midst of it all, as we plan to welcome students back to campus in the coming weeks, our God is faithful.

Our God is Unchanging. This is our campus theme for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year, prayerfully and deliberately chosen by campus ministry student leaders back in April and May. This one-word theme is based on Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” As a campus, we will keep our eyes on Jesus.

Of course, our students still have the same concerns that other students at similar institutions have about the future. But what makes a Concordia experience unique? The Concordia experience centers on being rooted in someone, rather than something. It centers around the actions of Jesus, rather than the actions of self. While we celebrate commencement, championships, and completed courses, we first celebrate Christ Jesus, who is “first in everything.”

This is truly uncommon. As is your commitment to our students through prayer, encouragement, and financial support. Thank you for being an uncommon blessing.

Photos by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. Ryan Peterson is the Vice President of Administration at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Constance C Gengler - August 11, 2020

Pastor Ryan,
This article reminds me somewhat of the graduation speech that your Dad gave at Erica’s 8th grade graduation. It was entitled something like, “Why be Normal.”
May God continue to bless your efforts!
Connie Gengler