Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Director's Word

One of my top priorities as I get started as Director of Contextual Learning is listening to and learning from the congregations and pastors we partner with in this enterprise. Just last week, I had the opportunity to visit three very different congregations.

On Monday I was hosted by Pr. Kristine Carlson at Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis where Will Starkweather serves as Vicar (a common term for intern pastors in former Missouri Synod churches). A gracious host, Pr. Carlson told me about

Life is Good

One of the businesses temporarily displaced from its Boylston Street headquarters by the Boston Marathon bombings was the “Life Is Good” company, well known for its line of optimistic apparel and other sundry items bearing the “Life Is Good” logo. When they were able to return ten days later, a reporter on the spot questioned the company president about the irony of the situation.  “We don’t say ‘Life Is Easy,'” the president replied. “We

Preparing the Pastors We Need: Part One

I’ve found a little book by George Mason titled "Preparing the Pastors We Need: Reclaiming the Congregation’s Role in Training Clergy" (Alban, 2012). Pr. Mason has led Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas since 1989. For the past 12 years Wilshire has hosted a pastoral residency program focused on mentoring young pastors in their first years after graduation from seminary. While the program is a distinctive one, mostly intended to help deepen pastoral formation for traditions without

Registration for 2013-14

In response to a number of questions received from cluster meetings, we report this from the Registrar’s Office:

 The course schedules for the 2013-2014 academic year will be made available in early May 2013. Once spring semester grades have been received, reclassification of all students will occur (in June). Registration by class status for Fall Semester 2013 will begin July 9, 2013. 

Photo Album

Interns Hannah Benedict, Kimberly Cassidy and Katie Slack enjoy playing with Hannah’s daughter Eve at the Northern Minnesota-North Dakota cluster meeting. 

Supervisors Sue Koesterman-Peterson and Jim Gronbeck finish lunch at the Northern Minnesota-North Dakota cluster meeting.


Supervisor Steve Bonesho and Interns Paul Dean, Will Starkweather and Durk Thompson visit at the West Metro cluster meeting.


Interns Amanda Ullrich and Kris Isder get caught up at the Southwestern

Introducing Chris Scharen, the new Director of Contextual Learning

I'd like to introduce myself as the new Director of Contextual Learning. Ironically, God must have had me in mind for this call—my office is already in the Contextual Learning suite in the 3rd floor tower of Northwestern Hall. I've been there since 2008 when I began at Luther as Assistant Professor of Worship. I'll continue to teach worship part-time, but will shift the bulk of my time to the Contextual Learning enterprise. I'm excited to join a superb and dedicated staff hard at work in the

Farewell to Kate

After ten years of faithful service, Kate Sterner will be leaving the staff of Luther Seminary by mid-May.  Kate has been a stalwart partner with us in the Contextual Learning department, our mainstay in dealing with applications and evaluations and all of those forms completed on-line, taking the jumbled mess passed on to her by others and converting it into the more polished “Ministry in Context” that you see, and shepherding diaconal students through their seminary program.


Another Tax Tip

In response to a student question as to whether parsonage value was taxable if provided by the church, tax accountant Mark Friesen has provided this information:

Like other fringe benefits, free or discounted church-provided lodging is usually subject to income and other taxes. To determine the fair market value of the housing provided to an intern, the church may check local newspaper listings for comparable rental properties or ask a local realtor for an estimate of the property’s rental

My Guilty Pleasure

As I write this I prepare to say good-bye to whatever vestige of mature, cultured, intellectual status I might have previously claimed, revealing myself to be a total slob. As if you didn’t already know.

Three tides converged at about the time I retired from full-time parish ministry:

  1. My wife and I took ballroom dancing lessons.
  2. I had more free time in the evening.
  3. "Dancing With The Stars” became a TV hit.

What can I tell you? I confess to being a “Dancing With The Stars”

Spring cluster meetings

After Easter, cluster meetings begin! Here's the schedule:

Washington Cluster: April 9-10, at Rainbow Lodge, North Bend, Wash. (Julie Josund)

Twin Cities First Year Concurrents: April 10, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Luther Seminary, Northwestern Hall Room 230. (Steve McKinley)

Northern Minnesota-North Dakota Cluster: April 16, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Hope Lutheran Church, South Campus, Fargo, N.D. (Steve McKinley)

Twin Cities West Cluster: April 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Trinity Congregation/Augsburg College, Minneapolis,