Story Magazine

Second Quarter, 2005

Students Help "Put a Face on This Place"

by Shelley Cunningham, '98

Sigrid Magid, who will be serving as an intern at Living Water Lutheran Church, Sauk Rapids, Minn., this year, said, "It was amazing to see the network of people everywhere who are drawn to these events. Most had some connection to Luther Seminary--they knew someone who'd gone there--but others were there because their pastors had recommended they go. It was meaningful to see how many different lives and places had been touched by the work that happens at Luther Seminary."

Magid got connected with the campaign after she spoke at a breakfast on campus last year. Her eloquence and passion for both ministry and the seminary made her a natural fit for the upbeat, inspirational tone of the Called & Sent events. She also thinks her story was especially effective at Called & Sent events in Phoenix, Portland and Seattle, where much more of the population is unchurched.

"I'm not from Minnesota, I didn't grow up in the church," she said. "Especially on the West Coast, you've got to speak about the church's future in a different way."

Magid was raised in a non-religious household. Her father, who was born in Israel, is a strong atheist; her mother was raised Lutheran but was turned off by a political split in her church. Magid and her siblings' only exposure to the church was when they went to Christmas and Easter services with their grandparents.

When she was 12 or 13, she says, she started searching. She wanted to try going to church, but her dad wouldn't let her. So she would read the Bible and listen to Christian radio programs in secret. As her faith grew, she was baptized when she went to college, where she became active in the Lutheran Student Movement. After graduation, she started teaching high school, but she also began having conversations with her pastor about the possibility of going to seminary. "I wanted some answers, like, how do you know for sure this is what you should do," she said. "Finally, I had to come to a place of peace that I wouldn't ever have the answer--but would always have the promises that God gave me." Now, she's preparing for service in ordained ministry. And she and her father have come to a place of peace about her path, too.

"I like speaking, but I enjoyed feeling like I was able to give something back. There is so much important work to be done. Luther Seminary's mission of preparing leaders is so important."

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Erik Gronberg, the son of a Texas pastor, grew up "very much in the church." He, too was active in campus ministry, but didn't want to follow in his dad's shoes. "When your dad's a pastor, all you know of the job is him...and my dad is great and all, but I didn't want to be my dad." After graduating, he worked as a financial advisor for a couple of years. "It paid well, which was really important to someone with a lot of student loans, but after six or eight months, I felt like something was missing from the equation." He started looking into seminary, and was grateful for an admissions and candidacy process that got him really thinking about what he wanted to do.

"I liked the idea of having something different to do every day--and of being the one who decides what to do, and when, and how. I guess I have more of an entrepreneurial streak in me than I thought I did."

Although he grew up in Texas and attended Harvard University on a football scholarship, Gronberg knew Luther Seminary was the right place for him. "I wanted more of the 'Midwestern experience.' And, I wanted to go somewhere where I would have classmates who were in the same point in life that I was. I've met some of my best friends here at seminary," including his wife, Kendra Mohn, '05.

Gronberg's background in finance led him to a student worker position in the office of seminary relations.

"I knew how important it is for a non-profit institution to have a strong donor base of people who really believe in the mission of the organization," he said. "And as a student, I've had to take out loans to come to seminary, so I also know how much the seminary needs its donors." As a manager of the seminary's annual Phonathon, he saw how willing people were to support Luther Seminary. Still, he saw the Called & Sent events as an important time to "put a face on this place. People need to hear about the professors, the staff, and the students who make Luther Seminary such a valuable resource for the church."

This fall, Gronberg began his first call at Dr. Martin Luther Church, Oconomowoc,Wis.--and became a campaign contributor himself.

"Supporting the seminary is a given for me. Hearing the stories at the campaign event just reinforced that for me. Things at Luther Seminary are worth being a part of."