E-lert - May 2012

Luther Seminary receives ATS grant to help prepare students for multi-faith ministry

Luther Seminary, in partnership with Trinity Lutheran Congregation in Minneapolis, recently received a grant from the Association of Theological Schools to study Christian Hospitality and Pastoral Practices in a Multifaith Society (CHAPP). Luther is one of approximately 20 schools nationwide to receive a grant toward this work.

The project compiles best practices to help member schools "develop ways to enhance their preparation of graduates to serve faithfully and effectively in multifaith contexts."

Trinity, a multi-ethnic congregation, is in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood known for its Somali immigrants, many of whom are Muslim.

The project is co-directed by Mary Hess, associate professor of educational leadership; and Christian Scharen, assistant professor of worship and theology. Other team members include Terri Elton, associate professor of Children, Youth and Family Ministry and director of the Center for CYF Ministry; Tim Coltvet, coordinator of contextual learning and coaching in the CYF program; and Amy Swenson, current M.Div. student.

"Through this project, Luther Seminary students, faculty and staff are accompanying Trinity as they live out what it means to be present in their multicultural neighborhood," says Elizabeth Flomo, '10, and Global Mission Institute/Cross Cultural Experience (GMI/CCE) project coordinator at Luther Seminary. Flomo served at Trinity as an intern while earning her M.Div. degree, and is a member of the project team.

This project seeks to deepen Luther's understanding of interfaith ministry. Project participants have visited local organizations, taken part in guided reflection with Trinity staff and held courses in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

The willingness to engage in conversations around difference is critical. Grace Gravelle, M.Div. middler and class participant, said, "We learned that it's okay to not have things in common (with our Muslim neighbors) as long as we're also open to being changed by the conversation."

The grant project concludes in September when Hess and Scharen attend an ATS consultation to discuss their work alongside other participating schools.


Read more about Trinity Lutheran's pastor.