The Belfry has a long and interesting history! Here’s a quick overview at our over six decades of ministry at UC Davis!
Beginning in 1955, Davis Lutheran Church (DLC), located about half a mile from UC Davis, initiated the Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) at UC Davis via its lay members. In the mid-60’s, the Missouri Synod (then the parent body of DLC) independently appointed a fulltime campus pastor who began work with DLC and eventually became The Belfry Pastor. The ministry was thus housed primarily at DLC until 1983. In 1970, Pastor Don Ranstrom was called to be the Pastor of LCM. in 1983, LCM began renting the building at 216 A Street, directly across the street from campus, and the building was purchased in July of 1988 using funds from the national LCM Inc., and local donations.
In the Fall of 1985, joint worship of Lutherans and Episcopalians began, and by 1988, income from the rental units behind The Belfry enabled an Episcopalian to join The Belfry staff as a lay minister. In the summer of 2000, the “Call to Common Mission” document was approved by both denominations, putting the two churches officially in communion with each other. In 2001, The Belfry was recognized by the Diocese of Northern California and the Sierra Pacific Synod for its joint campus ministry. In September of 2002, The Belfry adopted its current name, “Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry” (LECM), and is sometimes used with the tagline: at The Belfry.
In April 2004, The Belfry celebrated its 50th anniversary since campus ministry efforts began at DLC, its 20th year at 216 A Street, and 15th year with Episcopalian staff members. A Festive Soup Supper was held in DLC’s new fellowship hall on the site of the original DLC student center. Dr. Martin E. Marty attended and appeared as the 15th St. Augustine’s Chair Lecturer in conjunction with the anniversary celebration.
In the fall of 2012, LEVN: the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network welcomed its first cohort of young adult interns. As a member of the national Episcopal Service Corps, LEVN recruits recent college graduates from across the country to live and serve in Sacramento and Yolo Counties for eleven months. The addition of this program has expanded our ministry to and with young adults and has provided new opportunities for outreach and revenues to support both the UCD student ministry and the LEVN Volunteers.
The programs of The Belfry fully embrace our identities of being fully both Lutheran and Anglican. While both traditions are observed, honored, and celebrated individually, we also find that together they organically form a third identity, which we lovingly refer to as “Lutherpalian.” We live in the both/and of these rich Christian traditions, rejoicing in their similarities and learning from their differences. We love putting these in dialogue with each other and believe it enhances our dive into faith and Christian spirituality in deep ways.