“ I want my students to understand that we must always listen to the Word both for ourselves and for those whom we are called to serve.”
Paul Berge didn't start out to be a teacher. His goal was parish ministry. Ordained in 1964, he served as pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Montevideo, Minnesota, for two years before becoming an Air Force chaplain in 1966.
For the next four years, he served on bases in the U.S. and Turkey. As chaplain, he dealt with problems he had never seen as a parish pastor. "It was a time of real discernment for me," he says. "I found Biblical study becoming more and more important. I couldn't let it go."
After finishing his tour of duty, Berge decided to return to graduate school. Two weeks before completing his Th.D. at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, he got a call from Luther. "I was asked to come for a year. I've been here ever since."
Berge has directed Luther's Master of Arts program since 1984. He enjoys working with students and is passionate about taking the program in new directions. He is especially excited by collaborations like the new dual degree in social work and theology. "Partnerships like this mean that people are connecting their vocation with Christian commitment," he says.
Because he believes that Christian commitment must also be connected to community involvement, Berge is an active supporter of Plymouth Christian Youth Center, a neighborhood center and alternative school for teens in Minneapolis. He also serves on the board of Lyngblomsten Care Center in St. Paul, and is working to create a partnership between Luther and Lyngblomsten.
Berge still considers himself a pastor. "Being a teacher is being a pastor to the students," he says, adding that he hopes students will share his passion for Bible study. "I want my students to understand that we must always listen to the Word both for ourselves and for those whom we are called to serve."