University Ministries Focuses on Shalom

Judy Peterson

CHICAGO (October 2, 2009) – University Ministries’ (UMin’s) primary goal this year is to help North Park students experience a simple but profound blessing: Shalom aleichum, or “May well-being be upon you.”

North Park Campus Pastor Judy Peterson says UMin made the blessing its theme because of a realization she came to about her own life. “I realized that for most of my life I’ve been trying to live a better life. I’ve tried to be better, do better, get better at what I do and then buy better things with the money I make from being so much better,” she explains.

Despite whatever gains she may have made, Peterson says, “It’s exhausting trying to be better all the time.” It’s also less than what God desires for his people and creation.

“I’ve begun to think that maybe ‘better’ isn’t the best,” she says. “Maybe what I should be seeking falls more into the category of being “well, whole, and complete.”

And that is where the blessing comes in.

“Shalom is a sense that everything has been set right, that justice has been accomplished, that good has won out over evil and that all creation is once again in right relation with its Creatorl," Peterson explains. "This small word is packed with so much hope that it is never to be kept to ourselves but is to be offered to one another as both a blessing and a promise.”

UMin director Rich Johnson says the department has a three-fold strategy they call “Know, Grow, Go” to enable students to experience and share shalom. He explains the strategy as “understanding our Christian identity, increasing in Christ-like character, and putting our faith into action.”

Chapel speakers and other activities will revolve around this concept, and will also connect with the Campus Theme question, “What is justice?” says Johnson. A broad range of speakers has been scheduled. Several weeks ago, Greg Boyd, an influential author of The Myth of a Christian Nation, and its sequel, The Myth of a Christian Religion, addressed students.

Other speakers that will present over the academic year include Younan Shiba, an Iraqi native who sought asylum in United States; Efrem Smith, pastor of Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minn., and co-author of The Hip-Hop Church; Lisa Sharon Harper, author of God is not a Republican or a Democrat; and Gary Walter, President of the Evangelical Covenant Church; and other Chicago area pastors and nonprofit leaders.

Visit Pastor Judy’s blog to read additional reflections on chapel speakers and the theme of shalom, or listen to podcasts of past messages.


Photo: Campus Pastor Judy Peterson