InterVarsity Alumni - George Stulac

March 15, 2006

George Stulac has never been far from students. For 25 years Stulac has been the pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, adjacent to Washington University. It’s the same church he attended as a Wash U. student, after becoming a Christian in an InterVarsity dorm Bible study.

“My Christian roots are in InterVarsity,” he says. “This is the church that all of the InterVarsity students went to in those days. So after I became a Christian, the next Sunday I just came along to church with them.”

After graduation he went to seminary to learn more about the Bible and theology. Then he was on staff with InterVarsity for five years, serving campuses in Nebraska and Iowa. His first pastorate after leaving InterVarsity was in Wichita. There his church was home to many InterVarsity students who attended Wichita State University. After five years in Wichita he was invited to return to St. Louis to become pastor of Memorial Presbyterian.

InterVarsity staff work is good preparation for ministry, particularly the training in inductive Bible study. “That’s the basis for how I preach,” he says. “That’s how I prepare sermons now. InterVarsity trained me to let a Scripture text speak for itself.” He says listening to John Stott exposit the Scriptures during the Urbana conventions he attended as a student, and then as a staff member, gave him the model that he aspired to follow.

For George Stulac, the arrival of InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Convention in St. Louis later this year is more than just a chance to reconnect with his InterVarsity roots. It stirs up his city-wide vision for drawing the Christian community together. “InterVarsity trained me in having a vision for mission and for interdenominational contexts,” he says. “It’s always been my desire as a pastor not just to build what I wanted to see happen in the church I was pastoring but to advance the mission in the whole city, working together with other churches, believing that we have a common mission serving the same Lord.”

George Stulac is also the president of Mission-Metro St. Louis, which grew out of city-wide concerts of prayer and the 1999 Billy Graham Crusade. Pastors meet on a monthly basis to pray and find ways to work cooperatively to benefit the community as a whole. “That’s one of the reasons I’m so happy that Urbana is coming,” he says. “As we’ve been praying for God to unite the community, it seems the Lord is bringing Urbana here.”

Pastor Stulac and the other leaders of Mission-Metro St. Louis are concerned about the divisions that they see in their city, racially, denominationally, and politically. But a pastor’s luncheon was held recently featuring a presentation on Urbana by InterVarsity’s Director of Church Relations, Ridley Usherwood. About 100 men and women attended, representing a wide variety of denominations. “That’s a wonderful start to build a unity that we need here,” Stulac said.

He wants to get as many people from his church as possible to the Edward Jones Dome and the America’s Center, for Urbana 06, December 27-31. “It is the best event that I know of to draw people into missions and to give them training and vision for it,” he says. “There isn’t any parallel to Urbana on that scale, bringing together all these different mission boards and agencies under one roof. The Christian who is asking God, ‘What is your calling for me?’ can go and be instructed faithfully from Scripture about God’s calling to evangelize the world.”

The focus on urban ministry that will be a part of Urbana 06 especially excites him. “Here at Memorial Church our focus is to glorify God by being an urban evangelical church,” he says. “Being in an urban setting, our church has to put together the belief and the practice in a way that is demonstrably evident to the community.”

George Stulac hopes to see unity grow among the various Christian communities in St. Louis, so much so that it’s evident to the larger community outside of the church. The Christian fellowship that he experienced as a new believer in an InterVarsity chapter made up of Christians from a variety of faith backgrounds is still the fellowship that he most enjoys. “I want to see a real unity among Christians here, loving each other and sharing together in a mission of proclaiming the gospel and advancing the kingdom.”

The complete interview with George Stulac is an InterVarsity podcast. Listen here.