Concordia St. Paul News

June 27, 2016

Hoffmann Mentoring Initiative Poised to Reach More Students

Concordia University, St. Paul and the Hoffmann Institute have relaunched the Hoffmann Mentoring Initiative (HMI). The program enables CSP to equip a wider range of students for service to Christ through their vocations.

“We have and will continue to work with church work students at Concordia St. Paul. But the changes we’re implementing will allow us to prepare and mentor Christian men and women who will be working in other, non-church work, fields,” said Rev. Mark Koschmann, CSP Fiechtner Chair in Christian Outreach and instructor of Theology and Missiology.

Under the new structure, HMI will help foster Christian leadership, service and vocation in the city by equipping lay men and women who have a desire to serve the church. Last year, 17 students in Concordia’s Interdisciplinary Honors program were involved in the mentoring program. Students served with a number of area institutions including Gillette Children’s Hospital, Keystone Community Services, TreeHouse, VA Hospital in Minneapolis, Dorothy Day Center, St. Peter Lutheran Church in St. Paul, and Redeemer Center for Life among others.

“Though I’m not sure yet what my future will hold or what God will call me to do, the knowledge I gained through my course readings, from my service learning experience, and from studying the Gospel reassure me that my future will be purposeful and meaningful,” said CSP senior Keaton Huberty, who served at the VA hospital in Minneapolis.

Another honors student, Finola Xiong reflected, “Volunteering at the Dorothy Day Center has opened my eyes to really understand others and not judge them right away…to me they were not just people I was serving, but they were like my friends.”

Starting this fall, a new course called Faith, Vocation and Justice in the City will be taught by Koschmann to non-church work Concordia students. The 1-year program will include theological classroom studies and a service project at a non-profit organization in the Twin Cities. The changes are highlighted by unique one-on-one mentoring opportunities through the service learning site.

“We have students here who are truly equipped to serve their church, to serve in the city, and to blend their profession with service,” said Koschmann. “We are also finding new ways to engage with our growing professional and graduate programs such as the Physical Therapy program which has made Christian service the cornerstone of its program’s philosophy.”

Another change that will take place on campus is to grow the amount of research and scholarship focused on Christian outreach in the city. This is an opportunity for which Concordia St. Paul is uniquely positioned as an urban Christian university.

The Hoffmann Mentoring Initiative is responding to the changing needs and desires of Concordia St. Paul students, the LCMS church body, and the wider community. The Oswald Hoffmann School of Christian Outreach (OHSCO) was founded at Concordia in 1984 with the mission of preparing students for professional outreach ministries, and to encourage and develop an active consciousness within the campus community. It became the Hoffmann Institute in 2010 with an increased emphasis in international outreach. Today, it’s focus is on urban, cross-cultural ministry in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“In the mission field, we need to respond to the changing culture,” said Koschmann. “That’s precisely what we are doing with the Hoffmann Mentoring Initiative. We’re responding to the changing needs of our students to provide mentoring and service learning experiences for Christian men and women desiring to make an impact in the city.”