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Meet the Faculty

Mary E. Hess

Mary E. Hess

Professor of Educational Leadership

  • Ph.D. (Boston College)
  • M.T.S. (Harvard University)


Mary Hess joined the Luther Seminary faculty in July of 2000. Hess received her B.A. degree in American Studies in 1985 from Yale University in New Haven, Conn. She received her M.T.S. degree in 1992 from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. In 1998, she received her Ph.D. in religion and education from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Hess' most recent professional experience includes serving on the editorial board of the premier journal in her field, Religious Education (1999-present), working with the Lexington Seminar and the Wabash Center, and serving as a core member of the International Study Commission on Media, Religion and Culture. She is a member of the Religious Education Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Her most recent publications include the books: Teaching Reflectively in Theological Contexts: Promises and contradictions (Melbourne, FL: Krieger, 2008), and  Engaging technology in theological education: All that we can't leave behind, (New York: Rowman Littlefield 2005). She maintains her own website and has written her weblog, Tensegrities, since 2003.



A study of the educational issues raised by living in a world of multiple faiths. The course examines the significance of diverse theological understandings for pastoral practice amid pluralism. The course also considers specific examples of interfaith learning, the pastoral challenges of supporting interfaith families, and engagement with people who do not claim religious identity. FULFILLS CG ELECTIVE OPTION

LD 0530 50MISSIONAL LDRSP IN PROF SET-ONLINE Spring Semester 2017-2018

This course serves as a final capstone course for the three MA degrees in the Leadership Division. Students will demonstrate their ability to integrate theology, theory and practice in the creation and defense of a capstone project centered on a current issue in their concentration area. Capstone projects might include a practical ministry project or an article for publication. In addition students will reflect on themselves as professional Christian leaders in light of their program learning, and prepare professional development plans for their first two years after the program. Prerequisite: LD0515 - Professional Vocation in Christian Leadership

SG 0502 01CHRISTIAN PUBLIC LDR-II-BEING LDRS Spring Semester 2017-2018

Each section of Christian Public Leader will focus on a particular topic as well as one’s vocational formation as a Christian public leader. This section’s focus is on: “discovering the broader implications of one’s intercultural competencies, as well as the church’s identity and voice in the public square.” The format for this course will include weekly engagement throughout the semester. While delivered in an online format, this course offers both synchronous and asynchronous monthly lectures, as well as both online and residential precept sessions. Pass/Fail Grading only. NOTES: See course syllabus for complete schedule details. Internship and CPL cannot be taken concurrently.


This course analyzes institutionalized racism and proposes a series of frameworks from within Christian education for engaging and dismantling racism, and for supporting multicultural and intercultural congregational learning. FULFILLS A CG COURSE OPTION. FULFILLS Cross-cultural requirement. PRE AND POST WORK REQUIRED.

EL 4535 01NEW MEDIA IN FAITH EDUCATION Fall Semester 2017-2018

This course explores emerging media as environments in which people “create, share and believe.” Particular attention is given to new cultures of learning, and digital storytelling as a constructive form of faith formation. Students explore the role of church leaders in supporting digital media literacy, participate in media production in faith contexts, and develop theological rationales for participating in emerging media spaces.

View new and notable publications from our faculty.

Faculty Publications