Christian ministries in the national parks offers opportunity to serve


Christopher Prentiss Michel

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Christopher Michel.

“Encountering God in the wonders of creation,” reads the back of a flier handed out at the A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP) table that was set up in Johnny’s last Tuesday.

According to the ACMNP webpage, they have about 200 ministry team members in 25 locations and have been in existence for more than 60 years.

“The ACMNP has been coming to Calvin to recruit students for the last 10 years; in the last year alone, three or four Calvin students participated in the program,” said Emily Stursma, the ACMNP representative. Stursma said that she feels the Calvin students who work for the national parks are “more adventurous, but maybe that’s just Michigan.”

The students who volunteer with ACMNP can expect to gain spiritual growth and leadership skills, as well as becoming more comfortable and confident in leadership roles.

The students are expected to lead ministry services on Sundays, which amounts to over 1,400 summer worship services. Over 30,000 residents attend from the surrounding area. These services are extended to the local residents as well because most of the national park locations are in places that do not have local churches. This means that the students holding these services learn leadership while helping the community grow spiritually. Also, the seminary students involved have an additional bonus of gaining ministry experience.

However successful these services are, the students are Christians placed in a setting that is not necessarily Christian. This allows them the opportunity to spread the gospel to others and to break stereotypes people may have of Christians.

According to the ACMNP website, the students involved in the ministry come from 100 colleges and 30 seminaries in 35 states, with 30-40 percent of these students being international.

As a result, Stursma says that students have the opportunity to make connections and friends with the residents and volunteers of different backgrounds.

To learn more about ACMNP, contact Emily Stursma at [email protected] or visit the ACMNP website (