CUW’s long-running lunchtime Bible study meets on Tuesdays from 12-12:55 p.m. in the Luptak Terrace Room.
When I started at CUW in February of 2021, we were still in for the most part on COVID lockdown. I didn’t set foot on campus until after I had accepted the position, and only once before I actually started. It was not the best way to get to know people and start to feel at home!
Thank God (and I mean that in the most literal way possible) for lunchtime Bible study.
At the suggestion of my supervisor, Lisa Liljegren, I started tuning in to the Zoom version of the study, led by CUW’s campus pastor, Rev. Steve Smith. There were maybe only about 15 people in attendance most weeks, but it was a great way to start to connect.
That fall, the study started meeting in-person again (initially with mask restrictions in place) it took a while to get the momentum back. As the size of the gatherings grew, so did my appreciation for what a wonderful tradition this is. I feel so blessed to come to work at a place where I can connect with God every morning in Chapel and dig deeper once a week at Bible study.
Here are just a few of the reasons I love it so much …
1. It’s convenient
Hey, you gotta eat lunch, right? Why not spend an hour learning about Jesus and Bible, right here on campus, while you do it? Sessions wrap up at 12:55, but if you need to leave early to get to class or a meeting, it’s totally fine. No judgment.
2. It’s for anybody and everybody
Every week there’s a great mix of students, faculty, and staff in attendance, including undergrads, grad students, theology professors, housekeeping staff, even a corporate communications manager!
“I would say the mission is to bring faculty, staff and students all together in a user-friendly Bible study,” Pastor Smith explained. “And I love that we have such a nice mix of people in attendance every week.”
And don’t let the presence of the theology professors intimidate you. The study is geared toward Bible studiers of all levels, and Smith does a terrific job making sure everyone has the opportunity to learn something. If anything, having so many wise and learned minds in the room helps ensure that.
3. You can attend often or occasionally
Smith picks a theme for each semester’s study, including a mix of Old Testament and New Testament topics, so there’s continuity from week to week. But each session is designed to be a stand-alone study, so if you miss a week (or a bunch of weeks), yeah, you’ll miss something good, but you’ll never feel like you’re “behind” in any way.
4. It’s fully “recovered” from Covid
When I first started attending on Zoom, I heard stories about “back in the day,” before Covid, when having 60-70 people attend was typical. Last fall, when the study returned to in-person (with mask restrictions in place at first) 30-40 people was a good turnout. But I’m happy to report that we’ve recently had to add some additional tables. This past week we had ten mostly full tables, which means there were probably at least 70 people there. Praise the Lord!
5. There’s free lunch!
That’s right, it’s true—and there’s no catch! You get fed spiritually and physically. Just head to the Caf around noon, sign in on the Bible Study sheet, pick up a tray, grab some grub, and head to the Terrace Room. You’ll have a few minutes to find a seat, eat, and mingle a bit before the discussion begins at 12:15. When you’re done, just be sure to return your tray and dirty dishes to the dining hall.
Of course, it’s also true that there really is no such thing as a “free” lunch. In this case, lunch is courtesy of the Office of the President. So, thank you so much for that—and for the caring people at Sodexo who prepare it!
6. Pastor Smith is awesome
How can you not love this man? Our campus pastor is kind, wise, knowledgeable, genuine, and engaging. And I’m not just saying that because we’re the same age. (Hint: We both graduated high school during the first year of the Reagan administration.) He won’t like that I’m gushing about him like this, but that’s just a reflection of what a humble man he is. Speaking of humility, here’s my favorite Pastor Smith story …
One day, while discussing the topic of humility, Smith commented that maybe it wasn’t the best day to have worn his “least-humble shirt.” You might think he must have been wearing something loud and patterned, but in fact it was a relatively plain peach-colored dress shirt. Quite humble by most standards, but downright gaudy for our unassuming campus pastor. Something about it struck me as so funny and I giggled quietly for a good 30 seconds.
Smith has been leading the group for 20 years, and it’s clear how much he still loves it. He comes alive and gets animated in a way that might surprise you. He told me he studies and prepares extensively and takes the responsibility seriously, so maybe it’s a little nervous energy bubbling up. But that sincere excitement is a big part of what brings me joy every week.
Why not check it out?
CUW is known for its active faith life on campus. To learn more about Christian life at Concordia University Wisconsin, click on the link below.