The vision of winning young people to Christ in Sheboygan County burned deeply in the heart of Rev. Ellis Mooney, Pastor of the local Evangelical Free Church. As a result, in 1950 he began Saturday Night youth rallies in which young people from across the city and county were involved. Hundreds of young people met Christ as Savior and scores accepted God’s call to the ministry.
During the mid 1950’s, this local youth ministry became affiliated with Youth for Christ International, and in the late 1960’s the local Board of Directors adjusted to include men from other churches. This was done in an attempt to make the ministry truly non-denominational and to be more acceptable as an independent youth organization.
The Campus Life Board of Directors in the summer of 1970 made a monumental step of faith in opening the Upper Room over the old Badger Paint Store on North 8th Street in downtown Sheboygan. This weekend coffee house was staffed by volunteers and a Lakeland College student, Sam Walker, who was hired part time. Scores of Christian teens and their friends found the Upper Room an excellent place for food, fellowship, and entertainment.
The 1970’s was a time of transition as Campus Life, Inc. of Sheboygan County was formed, and the Board of Directors called Dave Justice to become the first Executive Director. The Campus Life office was located in the Upper Room facility until later that year when the coffee house was closed and the office relocated to 607 Center Ave., adjacent to the Sheboygan Glass Company.
Property was purchased in October of 1973 for a Campus Life Teen Center to be built housing offices and facilities for youth activities. After nearly 10 months of volunteer help, a gas explosion at the Sheboygan Glass Company necessitated moving into an uncompleted Teen Center. Carpenters were hired to complete nearly two months of work prior to the September 1974 dedication of the facility. For 26 years this facility served the organization well.
In 2000, property was purchased for the new Campus Life Family Center at 6426 S. Business Drive on the south side of Sheboygan. In 2001 the new facility was dedicated. Along with expanded inside ministry and office space, extensive outside activity areas were also added. This included a picnic pavilion, soccer & baseball fields, and a fishing pond.
After 37 years of service Dave Justice retired in June of 2007 as the Executive Director. Since that time Jim & Denise Green have led the ministry together as a ministry team.
The ministry has continued to grow as God has opened new doors of opportunity. Expanding ministries to families has been a primary focus including an annual Father Daughter Ball event which hundreds of dads and daughters participate in each year. Expanding ministries to children as young as 2 years old through senior adults, multiple sessions of men’s and women’s Bible studies, as well as outreaches to juvenile jail and assisted living facilities have all become part of the Campus Life ministry to young and old.
Campus Life stands as a testimony to the hard work, prayers, and support of many friends who love the Lord and people in this community. To God be the Glory, great things he has done and continues to do through the ministry of Campus Life.