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U.S. campus ministries sign unity agreement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Leaders from 17 college campus ministries have signed an agreement aimed at keeping their work cooperative rather than competitive as they seek to point students to Christ.

The Chicago Agreement, which was drafted last fall during a meeting at the InterVarsity Press offices in Illinois, includes eight basic points of unity in mission that were unanimously approved earlier this year.

Organizations represented include Baptist Collegiate Ministry at LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board as well as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“I think the document is helpful because it expresses the intention to work with other likeminded groups to help reach our campuses with the Good News of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ,” John Moore, national collegiate ministry leader for church and network partnerships at LifeWay and a signer of the agreement, told Baptist Press.

The ministries agreed to teach their staff, volunteers and faculty and student leadership the following principles about relationships with other Christian groups in accordance with John 13:34-35:

— We are all part of Christ’s body.

— We do not regard any campus as our exclusive field. We recognize that many students and faculty may be helped through the various appeals and styles of the different organizations.

— We will seek to establish relationships and build bridges with our counterparts in other Christian groups on campus. When establishing ministries on new campuses, we will take the initiative to communicate with the leadership of existing groups.

— We will speak well of and refrain from criticism of each other’s ministries and members.

— We commit to addressing problems on a local, regional or national level by humbly communicating with our counterparts, seeking the Lord together to resolve the issues.

— We affirm the leadership commitments students and faculty have made to each other’s ministries and will not actively recruit them away from those groups. When starting a new campus work, each organization will endeavor to select new leaders, not leaders from other ministries.

— We recognize students and faculty have the freedom to choose their involvement with any campus ministry. In general, we will encourage them to select and be involved with one primary organization.

— We will encourage collaborative efforts on a voluntary basis between our organizations. We are open to share experiences and resources to assist each other with the unique challenges of campus ministry.

The agreement is an update of an earlier document approved by leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ, Navigators, Young Life and InterVarsity in 1971. Those organizations wanted to modify the language of their partnership, and they identified other ministries that might want to join them.

Jim Lundgren, senior vice president and director of collegiate ministries for InterVarsity, said their hope was that 10 or 12 ministries would be represented in the new agreement.

“To our surprise, 16 of the 17 came for the 24-hour meeting. The one campus director who could not come made a pledge to sign whatever we developed,” Lundgren said in a news release.

The group wanted to write a clear and simple agreement that “did not read like a theological treatise or a legal document.”

“I believe that the spirit of partnership and respect that we experienced together is as important as what we produced in the actual agreement,” Lundgren said. “I see the Chicago Agreement as a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit in our movement and in leadership of these other movements.”

Lundgren said the leadership group plans to meet every three years in order to modify the agreement as necessary and to learn from each other in the task of reaching college students for Christ.
Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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