A newsletter for friends of the Global Mission Institute, Luther Seminary

Global Vision - Spring 2014

View more articles in the Spring 2014 issue.

GMI Member Profile

Music with a mission: A tradition of generosity

When Paul and Helen Baumgartner began their marriage by applying to be missionary teachers in Japan, they jumped headfirst into two lifelong passions: music and global mission. At the Miyagi Women's College in Sendai, Japan, they taught courses ranging from music appreciation, piano and beginning violin to English conversation and Bible study.

When they returned to the United States three years later to continue graduate studies in piano performance and pursue their music teaching careers, they continued to feel a passion for mission and international students. They were inspired by the way that people from different parts of the world could build deep relationships and learn from one another.

The Baumgartners were introduced to Luther Seminary when two of their daughters received their M.Div. degrees here. The Global Mission Institute (GMI) caught their attention as a place that embraced their values of international learning, mission and ministry. Seeing an opportunity to collaborate for an important cause, Paul and Helen held their first GMI benefit concert in 1992 at First Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights, Minn., sharing their musical gifts through the beautiful sounds of a grand piano. Now, 22 years later, the Baumgartners have performed more than 40 concerts across the state, each with a freewill offering supporting the GMI. To date, they have raised more than $10,000 for the GMI at Luther Seminary. 

Their most recent performance, at First Lutheran Church in Bemidji, Minn., drew an appreciative and generous audience. Their concert program centered on a theme of bohemian dances, which they describe as family-friendly music that's easy to listen to. "This is one of our most enjoyable programs and we really want to share it," says Paul and Helen. "We like to share both our music and the work of the GMI with the audience."

Since their early mission experiences, the Baumgartners have seen global mission evolve to meet the needs of a changing world, noting that across the globe, many local leaders are following the call to serve their communities and share the gospel. While missionaries are still needed, Paul and Helen agree that the best work happens when they can partner with community leaders who understand local culture and customs.

Providing training, resources and support for global leaders is a top priority, both for the Baumgartners and the GMI. "Our greatest interest in Luther Seminary and the Global Mission Institute is the support that they provide for international students " say the Baumgartners. "We have met and visited with quite a number of them and are greatly impressed with their abilities and their devotion both to their studies and the work that they will do when they return to their home countries."

For more than 20 years, Paul and Helen have contributed to the GMI financially and through their music. With their commitment to the GMI and the global church, they are leaving a rich legacy. They say, "In this multicultural world, global mission is as important as ever. We need to continue to give support--in as many ways and to as many places as we can--to those who are sharing the gospel."

To schedule a recital at your church to benefit the GMI, contact the Baumgartners at helenb2@hickorytech.net or 507-931-3051.

Connect with the GMI
Stay connected with the GMI and global Christianity. To learn about upcoming concerts, lectures and forums, visit www.luthersem.edu/gmi Read stories about Luther Seminary's international student community, as well as students and alumni who are learning and working around the world. Partnerships with congregations and individuals provide valuable support and opportunities for international students and global mission work at Luther Seminary.