by Lauren Erath (CSP Marketing & Communications Intern)
Shelly Schwalm, Concordia’s new Director of Church Relations and Ministry Associate, was not always certain of what career she should pursue.In fact, she initially intended to study theater and music, but God decided otherwise. Schwalm’s plans first changed when she was contacted by Youth Encounter during her senior year of high school, resulting in a year-long ministry tour that lead her to earning a Director of Christian Education (DCE) degree at Concordia University in 2010. Now her plans have changed again.
Schwalm, who had worked as CSP’s Ministry Associate for two years after graduation, was working as a DCE for Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Chandler, Arizona, when she received the call to return to Concordia. The university’s previous Director of Church Relations, Amy Scholz, contacted Schwalm with the opportunity, saying she had been praying about the position and Schwalm’s name kept entering her mind and thought she should consider it.
Schwalm submitted her resume shortly after speaking with Scholz and several weeks later she received the call from Concordia, but spent a couple weeks praying about the new opportunity prior to accepting the call.
“I just felt like this position really fit me and my gifts and my passion for college students,” Schwalm explained.
In her new role, Schwalm will be responsible with maintaining communication and relationships between Concordia and surrounding LCMS congregations. She will also be assisting CSP Pastor Tom Gundermann in reaching out to students through student ministry, including the student-led 908 and Theology and Ministry Club, leading in chapel, and establishing a welcoming presence on campus.
“For me, I think my biggest goal right now is just taking in as much as I can and listening and learning from students, faculty, and staff as much as possible to see how I can really engage students and be what they need,” Schwalm said.
One important aspect of this is embracing the uncertainties that accompany Schwalm’s new position and the upcoming school year. Schwalm anticipates this with excitement, thinking back to the chapel service when she welcomed on to campus last month. The service provided her with a meaningful message that became her inspiration for the coming year. This message came through the hymn, “Praise to the Lord the Almighty,” in the verse that states “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”
Schwalm found the line especially significant because it is one that she has always resonated with and had even posted on her computer screen in the past. For her, it summarizes all the unknown opportunities that God will create in the upcoming school year to strengthen His kingdom as well as guide and support Concordia’s students. This includes the unique outreach opportunity that Schwalm and fellow Christians have in welcoming the diverse student groups on campus to attend chapel and learn about the Christian faith.
“I’m excited to ponder anew what the Almighty can do at Concordia,” Schwalm said.