The Gustavian Weekly

GACAC discusses Lutheran commitments to youth

By Christine Peterson Staff Writer | May 2, 2014 | News

Gathering people from all over the community, this year’s Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations Faith Conference was honored to have our very own new Gustavus Religion Professor and Bernhardson Chair Marcia Bunge, give the keynote address. The conference was held on Saturday, April 26 on the topic, “Understanding Lutheran Commitments to Children and Youth.”

This event started last year and will continue as a build-up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The Church Relations Office at Gustavus puts on this road to the reformation to highlight Lutheran theology.

One of the main aspects of this conference is to help all participants reflect more deeply on their own commitments to youth, conceptions of children, and  appreciation for the depth of Lutheran commitments to children in the past and in the present.

Gustavus Chaplain and Director for Church Relations Grady St. Denis describes the purpose in the matter of three key aspects.

“The Faith Conference seeks to celebrate this relationship in three key ways: physically bringing together the college and church community for time to be together; lifting up our Christian faith, Lutheran theology and concern for shaping the lives of young people as our key common concerns; and participating in a shared day of learning around a theological topic that will help further the work of the Christian church,” Grady said.

This year’s educational talk was given by Dr. Marcia Bunge who has devoted her studies and research since 2000 on children and obligations to them.

Dr. Bunge became interested in children as a result of her experiences as a mother of two and a professor teaching undergraduates.

“I just started having a lot of questions about what’s happening to children in our schools, in our homes, in our communities and religious communities,” Bunge said.

Due to these inquiries, Bunge has dedicated much of her time and studies to researching children and sharing what she is discovering.

Dr. Bunge has spoken in various countries and participated in numerous conferences all around the world. One passion she has found through these cultural experiences is the lack of care for poor children.

“And especially how we treat poor children in this county… its almost like we don’t treat poor children as human beings. We know so much more know about child development and all the things that need to be there in order for them to thrive,” Bunge said.

Along with her speech on Lutheran commitments to and conceptions of children, the afternoon consisted of a panel of four individuals focused on faith formation and children advocacy.

Looking back on the event, Assistant Director for Church Relations in the Center for Servant Leadership Sara Masters, who helped plan the event, was happy with the outcome. She heard positive feedback about the topic and the speaker.

“I heard many people were so impressed with our speakers and were very glad we were touching upon this topic,” Masters said.

There were many people from outside the Gustavus community and all around Minnesota who attended this unique event. The Gustavus Church Relations Office hopes to see more students from Gustavus attend the Faith Conferences in the upcoming years leading up to this great commemoration of the Reformation.