Story Magazine - Third Quarter, 2005
Putting Learning into Practice
Developing leaders for congregations in mission is the vision behind the extraordinary Doctor of Ministry programs provided by Luther Seminary. These programs provide experienced pastors the tools they need to help their religious communities flourish both in numbers and in spiritual growth.
Michael Peck, Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Mission and Leadership Student
"We're going where no one has gone before," says Michael Peck, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland, Kan. Michael is a proud member of the first cohort in Luther Seminary's Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Mission and Leadership program. "It's exciting," he says. "I like being a trailblazer."
Venturing into unexplored territory is nothing new for Michael. When he arrived at Holy Cross in 1998, he discovered an "eight-year-old congregation trying to find its way. Worship attendance was about 150. Now it's 450. The congregation is changing rapidly."
Needing knowledge to lead the congregation in mission growth, Michael applied to Luther Seminary's Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Mission and Leadership program. "I'd been reading about church growth but found so much of that research wanting," says Michael. "This program gives me the opportunity to go deeper, to really get the theological underpinnings to the material I'd been reading."
With less than two years to go before completing the program, Michael credits Luther Seminary with providing him with learning that "relates so well to my ministry and everything that's taking place at Holy Cross. It's really helping me to flourish as a pastor."
Earnest Tate, '94, Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Preaching Student
"I believe in walking the talk," says Earnest Tate, a student in Luther Seminary's Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Preaching program. As an associate pastor at Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Earnest joyfully serves the Lord.
"Most of my work at Messiah is in the trenches," says Earnest. "People come here needing services related to housing, medical issues, lack of language skills and lack of educational opportunities."
In addition to walking the talk, Earnest talks the walk as well. He specializes in Old Testament preaching, especially the major and minor prophets. "I'm excited about the program at Luther Seminary because I've received a reservoir of practical knowledge pertaining to biblical preaching. The constructive verbal and written response to each of my sermons from professors, classmates and the parish response group is a catalyst for my enthusiasm."
Earnest's studies at Luther Seminary help him to ground the problems and temptations faced by members of the Messiah congregation: "We read a lot about injustices, about the past. We must decide what is just. What is right in the eyes of God is just. People need to be reminded that the God of the past is the same God as today." Earnest's gift in preaching is key to sending that message.