CMLT 2021

In so many ways, our amazing student ministry leaders and volunteers truly are the hands and feet of Jesus.

One of the things that truly sets CUW and its mission apart is the tremendous work being done by the students in Campus Ministry. It’s a program that is truly run from the ground up. The wonderful CUW staff empowers, equips, and advises the Campus Ministry Leadership Team (CMLT), but the vast majority of the planning, execution, and service is done by the students themselves.

“I am so incredibly proud of each of the branches for what they’ve accomplished so far this year and for the growing numbers they have gotten involved in ministry,” says CMLT President Mollie Hittinger. “I’m blessed to get to watch these ministries grow because of the wonderful people that have been placed on this team.”

Here’s just a glimpse of what the various ministries are all about, and what they’ve been up to so far this year.

Campus Fellowship

Zeke Potts and Ryan Milbrath, co-leaders of the B.U.I.L.D. ministry team.
Branch Coordinators:
  • Mika Kennaugh (’23), Director of Church Ministries (Youth Ministry), Batavia, IL
  • Joe Pleinis (’23), Theology (pre-seminary), Crossville, TN,
  • B.U.I.L.D (Brothers United in Life & Devotion): CUW men focus on building and strengthening each other’s faith through God’s Word and other “manly things.”
  • L.I.G.H.T. (Ladies In God’s Hands Together): CUW women encourage one another in their faith through various activities and retreats centered on God’s Word.
  • C.O.R.E. (Conditioning Our Run Eternally): Unites CUW athletes for fellowship centered on God’s Word by creating opportunities for team devotions and large group activities with athletes from all sports.
  • Small Groups: Offers men’s, women’s, and co-ed options with the opportunity to grow in faith and have fun building Christian fellowship!
  • Haven: Offered Sunday nights for refreshing encouragement in faith. Experience energetic music led by one of our Haven bands, reflective prayer time, and a devotional message.
  • The Hiding Place: Provides a relaxed atmosphere for students to hang out, play games, hear live music, and study in this off-campus coffee house ministry at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Mequon (Saturday evenings, 7-11 p.m.).
What it’s all about:

Focuses on serving and connecting students and the on-campus community.

What’s happening now:
The Haven
Ryan Kroonblawd, one of the co-leaders of the Haven ministry team.

“One of the biggest things that’s really excited us, especially myself, is there’s been a really big outreach this year from students,” Pleinis says. “I think a lot of people are thinking, ‘Okay, this is a big year, post-COVID,” so people are looking for things to do. One of the things that’s been really exciting for me is being able to reach out to fellow students, like, ‘Hey, here’s this opportunity you can do with other people on campus and get to know the community, while also getting to know more about God and Scripture.’ I’m really excited to continue to do that the rest of the year.”

“I am super excited that our branch is booming!” Kennaugh adds. “I have heard nothing but good things. A lot of people are choosing to go to our ministries and I am so proud of how God is leading our leaders.”

Why it’s awesome:

“I think that a lot of people have found that there’s a really nice way to reach out to people on campus and serve each other as fellow Concordians and friends,” Pleinis says. “That’s why I think Campus Fellowship is somewhat unique, because we do focus on campus. It’s an opportunity to see that there are other college students who believe the things you do, and they’re right here next to you, and you can do things with them, and really get to know them.”

Service to the World

Beautiful Feet
Marie Reid, one of the co-leaders of the Beautiful Feet ministry team.
Branch Coordinator:
  • Olivia Estep (’23), Music Education, Lena, WI
What it’s all about:

Focuses on serving and ministering to people beyond the on-campus and Greater Milwaukee Community, as well as the international students living on campus.

  • Beautiful Feet: Encourages and supports missions around the world. In addition to praying, encouraging, and connecting with missionaries from around the world, students attend a mission conference each fall.
  • C.H.A.T. (Conversations Happen All the Time): Brings American and international students together, providing a great opportunity to get to know new people and cultures. In addition to paring up students to chat and practice English, C.H.A.T. hosts a weekly Bible study and plans several fun events throughout the year.
  • Students for Life: Promotes the sanctity of life, both on campus and off, through various activities, including involvement with A Place of Refuge in Milwaukee and the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
  • Spring Break Mission Trip: Offers the opportunity to travel over spring break to help others in need. Past trips include building and improving homes for the poor in Mexico, Guatemala, New Orleans, and Appalachia.
What’s happening now:

“Overall, this year has been so exciting already just because last year, with COVID, things were just tough,” Estep says. “The numbers were a little discouraging, and not many people were wanting to do stuff. This year has just been exciting because, for all, not just my branch, but for all of the groups on campus, have seen such an increase in people showing up to events, and people are excited and engaged, and want to be there, and that’s just been … oh, like every time we have a meeting we’re just like, so much is getting done! And it’s been so encouraging to see how God’s working this year.

“One big thing is Students for Life is planning for their annual trip to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January,” Estep says. “That’s super-exciting, to go to Washington D.C., especially since the 2021 event was virtual due to COVID restrictions. And the C.H.A.T. team is planning their annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the international students. That’s such a cool tradition.”

Why it’s awesome:

“All of the people who are in charge of each group in my branch, they all are like ‘10-out-of-10’ people,” Estep says. “And seeing their excitement for what they’re doing, and the things that they’re planning, and the hard work that they’re putting into it encourages me so much. Because they’re not serving themselves, they’re serving the Lord, you know? And I get to be there and encourage them, and see the fruits of what they’re doing. That hypes me up, it’s so cool.”

Worship Committee

Michael Gerschke, branch leader of the Worship Committee and Brian Fish, co-leader, daily chapel.
Branch Coordinator:
  • Michael Gerschke (’22), Finance, Almond, WI
What it’s all about:

“In this team, we all work to bring the Gospel through well-organized worship services,” Gerschke says. “From filling the candles to making sure the audio is good for the daily chapel stream, everyone on this team is working to make sure that the focus can be placed on Christ during worship.”

Roles and Responsibilities:
  • Sound Tech: Prepare and maintain a schedule of volunteers who are willing to operate tech equipment such as microphones and cameras for the daily chapel stream.
  • Communion Care: Prepare and maintain a schedule of volunteers who are willing to help with the set-up of communion for Sunday worship.
  • Chancel Care: Make sure that the candles are filled with oil for worship services and monitor overall cleanliness of the worship space.
  • Head Usher: Prepare and maintain a schedule of volunteers who are willing to help with ushering for Sunday worship.
  • Prayer Service Coordinator: Prepare and maintain a schedule of volunteers who are willing to lead evening prayer services on Wednesday nights.
Why it’s awesome:

“The students who serve on Worship Committee are truly behind the scenes; unsung heroes!” says Rev. Steve Smith, Campus Pastor. “When we come to Chapel, lights are on, hymn numbers are up, candles are lit. The altar cloths and banners are changed, communion is set up and things are well in order. It is a faithful group whose love of God and true devotion leads them to serve in such quiet and faithful ways.”

“Being the worship committee coordinator has been a blessing for me,” Gerschke says. “I have been able to work with fantastic leaders who are responsible for different areas regarding the worship experience here on campus. Long after I finish my role as worship committee coordinator, I will remember the relationships that have been opened up to me through this opportunity.”

Service to Milwaukee

Alexa Majerus and Grace Kelle, co-leaders of the Nursing Home Ministry.
Branch Coordinator:
  • Dierra Tyra (’22), Social Work, Milwaukee, WI
What it’s all about:
  • Reaches out to and serves various off-campus, non-church communities within the Milwaukee area.
  • Prison Ministry: Encourages and witnesses to prisoners through a letter writing exchange.
  • Nursing Home Ministry: Brings joy to nursing home residents at local nursing homes through visiting, playing games, singing, and sharing devotions.
  • Street Team: Creates awareness and reaches out to the homeless and others in Milwaukee’s inner city.
What’s happening now:

“In the past, Nursing Home Ministry has been really hands-on, and students have visited nursing homes, and hosted events,” Tyra says. “This year we’re still running into a lot of issues with COVID, so we’re still trying to be flexible in that way. One of the things we want to do this year is focus on holidays, like making cards or posters, things like that. So even if we can’t be there in-person, we can work with nursing homes and drop those things off, so the residents are still getting some form of interaction with students.”

Why it’s awesome:

“Being from Milwaukee is definitely one of the reasons why this was the branch that I went up for,” Tyra says. “Because, living in Milwaukee, every day I see the need, and I see the issues. As a [future] social worker, I think it kind of opens your eyes to like, ‘Wow, this needs to be addressed, and that needs to be addressed.’ It’s why I felt called to this ministry.

“Being a branch coordinator is definitely helping me to develop as a leader and build some of those skills. It’s even helping me to be more sociable, and get out of my shell, and meet new people. Plus, I  have an amazing team. They’re really great, and always on top of stuff. So that helps a lot.”

Congregational Ministries

Congregational Ministries
Susan Habegger, one of the co-leaders of the Children’s Ministry.
Branch Coordinator:
  • Rachel Osell (’22), Secondary Education (Lutheran Teaching), Milwaukee, WI
What it’s all about:
  • Works with local churches to provide a variety ministry services and support.
  • Children’s Ministry (Kid-Min): Formerly C.I.A. (Children of God in Action) and God’s Production Company, now combined into one ministry. Students share the love of Jesus with children in the area by hosting fun activities throughout the year and visiting local congregations to lead fun weekend morning events, including games, crafts, and skits.
  • Youth Ministry (Y-Min): Shares the love of Christ with youth by leading exciting overnight lock-ins.
What’s happening now:

“All but two of my coordinators in Congregation Ministries are new this year, so we’ve got five new faces coming in who are adding new perspective,” Osell says. “Things kind of changed a lot with COVID last year, so coming back this year, these people don’t really know what these positions looked like before, so a lot of things new are happening, for the better, and it’s really cool. For instance, our Youth Ministry guys cleaned out the whole Y-Min room. They took everything out, they repainted the walls, they put up a projector up so they could do like different things with screens in there.

“Last year, because of COVID, a lot of what we did was virtual. that we did. We would put together something we called ‘Sunday School in a Box” and sent it to churches. This year, they’re still incorporating some of the virtual stuff, while also expanding to the in-person stuff, which is cool.”

Why it’s awesome:

“I like being a branch coordinator because I’m the person that kind of everyone comes to to bounce the ideas off of, and having experience in almost all of those roles that I’m now overseeing,” Osell says. “It’s also cool that through this role I get to see these people grow so much, and figure themselves out, and discover what they’re passionate about.”

Coming Up:
  • Fall Festival: Saturday, October 30 | 9 – 11 a.m. | Chapel Courtyard

Campus Ministry Staff

CMLT Theme Verse

  • Rev. Steve Smith | Campus Pastor
  • Rev. Doug Bender | Associate Campus Pastor
  • Rev. Dr. Randy Ferguson | Director of Christian Service
  • Dr. Jim Juergensen | Director of Faith Integration for Athletics
  • Darcy Paape | Director of Women’s Leadership Institute

Student Auxiliary Officers

  • Mollie Hittinger | President
  • Rachel Bender | Administrative Assistant
  • Jacob Diercks | Treasurer
  • Kendall Lotto | Media Coordinator

Ministry Co-leaders

  • Campus Fellowship: Zeke Potts, Ryan Milbrath, Savannah Jens, Brittany Johnson, Gideon Cain, Kathryn Ousdigian, Amy Eberth, Isaac Hedstrom, Garrett Anklam, Ryan Kroonblawd, Luke Symmank, Madelyne Arrigoni, Hannah Mielke
  • Service to Milwaukee: Sylvia Bellin, Kylee Miller, Grace Kelle, Alexa Majerus, Jonathan Yakimow
  • Service to the World: Kristina Pietrzak, Marie Reid, Joshua Shull, Grant Karsten, Hallie Barteau, Rebekah Bucholz, Aaron Collins, Grace Sugg
  • Congregational Ministries: Megan Reinke, Payton Godbold, Anna Wiesneski, Susan Habegger, Isaiah Mudge, Nathan Thomack, Harrison Hulse
  • Worship Committee: Eli Wallace, Jenna Vanderhyde, Brian Frank, Lois Temme, Brian Fish, David Scarborough

Kendall LottoPhotos by Kendall Lotto, CMLT Media Coordinator


— This story is written by Mike Zimmerman, corporate communications manager for Concordia University Wisconsin. He may be reached at or 262-243-4380.

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