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Christian Union
November 7, 2016

Ministry Celebrates First Graduating Class

HLS-first-classThree years ago, faculty with Christian Union's ministry at Harvard Law School, Coram Deo, began reaching out to students and sojourning with them as they integrated faith and law. In May, the ministry celebrated, by God's grace, steady growth since its inception and the graduation of some of its original members.

"Emotions of both joy and sadness well up in one's spirit as we both celebrate our graduates and mourn their departure from local campus life," said Jim Garretson, Christian Union's ministry director at Harvard Law School.

Garretson has seen the vision for the ministry come to fruition in many ways. Most notably, he said, Bible study and interactive discussions around areas of legal interest for the students have proved to be invaluable. He was also thankful for the leadership development exemplified by some of the first members.

"Our charter member students really did yeoman's service in the personal commitments they made to see the ministry flourish over the past three years," he said. "It wouldn't be what it is today without their contributions."

Through participation in Christian Union's ministry, Garretson said, students are "recognizing the importance of a Christian worldview formation in relation to the study and practice of law."

coram-deoTake recent Harvard Law School alumnus Austin Steelman, who served as the ministry's president for two years.

"I think a lot of students come into HLS with a commitment to academics and a commitment to faith, but they can be really separate," Steelman said. "Christian Union offers an opportunity to integrate them—to sit down with students studying the same subjects as you."

That holistic approach to faith and work is what recent alumna Sybil Sam found particularly inviting.

"Being part of [Christian Union] encouraged me to think as deeply about issues of faith as I did my legal studies. I value that tremendously," said Sam. "One theme that continuously came up in our discussions was the need to bring our faith and biblical truth to bear on our views on matters of social importance and in all our professional endeavors."

The ministry's name, Coram Deo (Latin for "in the presence of God") reflects the essence of Christian Union's emphasis on a seeking God lifestyle—one that is rooted in Scripture, earnest prayer, and humility through fasting.

"A strong emphasis on a seeking God lifestyle is accompanied by a resolute commitment to the study of Scripture and active engagement of the mind to apply biblical teaching to the study and practice of law," said Garretson.

Using resources and support available through Christian Union, the ministry offers rigorous Bible courses, weekly discussion groups, and lectures featuring leaders in the areas of faith, law, advocacy, and theology.

Steelman said he also developed great friendships and received mentoring which "helped me keep my focus on faith throughout the career choice process...[The ministry] has really grown and seeing each new class form stronger friendships has been really encouraging."

Coram Deo has also garnered attention and support from some Harvard Law School faculty.

"We have been blessed and encouraged by faculty who support our presence and value the enrichment that Christian organizations can bring to campus life," Garretson said.

For example, a year ago Professor Mark Ramseyer (HLS '82) spoke at a weekly luncheon for the law students. Ramseyer shared his experiences and emphasized the integrity of good scholarship. He also displayed personal interest in the students' academic pursuits.

Through such resources, offerings, and events, the mission of Christian Union is to foster the development of Christian leaders of character who will go on to shape the nation—leaders like Steelman, who will practice patent litigation in Boston.

"I'll miss the friends and fellowship and stimulating conversation of Coram Deo," said Steelman.