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by Nancy Giguere, Special Correspondent
Amy Marga considered becoming a parish pastor but eventually came to realize that teaching was her true calling. "I believe in the importance of lay leadership in the church. Every single one of us is called to do something in the kingdom of God," she says. "And teaching is where my gifts and passions lie."
A life-long Lutheran, Marga likes teaching in a seminary that is both confessional and missional. "Lutherans need to have a profile in today's pluralistic society, but we are still called to share the one message of God who has reconciled the world to Godself," she says. She praises Luther students as "serious about their call to study God's word and open to one another."
Marga's experience as a Christian education director taught her that all Christians think about and question their faith. So she wants her students to understand that theology is for everyone, not just for theologians.
She points out that theology is a critical reflection on what we do as a believing community--and what we do needs to be continually rethought and reformed.
Marga says with a chuckle that forher, most theological roads lead to Martin Luther: "He did not write a systematic theology, but he always wrote to his own context. He was sometimes contradictory, but he was incredibly human and down-to-earth. And that's a good way to do theology."
Above all, Marga wants her students to take heart in the immensity, awesomeness and mystery of God: "God seeks you out when you feel helpless and weak--when you feel you can't. Allow yourself to enjoy
being swept up, to be moved by the Spirit, to let God move you out of your comfort zone. Have the courage to let God use you. Don't be afraid."
Learn more about Amy Marga on her Web page at www.luthersem.edu/amarga
Kathryn Schifferdecker has always been fascinated by the Book of Job. "Many Christians find it impious to question or lament. But God wants to be in relationship with us, and it is a faithful response to hold God to God's promises," she says. "Job's laments, as well as those of the prophets and psalmists, are a treasure for the Christian church," she says.
Schifferdecker wants her students to know these and other treasures contained in the Old Testament. "I want them to encounter the Bible as the word of God for their lives and the lives of the people they minister to," she says. "I hope their imagination will be sparked by the story of God's love for God's people through the centuries."
In addition, she wants students to imagine how Old Testament texts can be used in parish ministry for preaching, teaching or in the context of pastoral care.
Before coming to Luther, Schifferdecker spent five years as associate pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Arkdale, Wis. Although she loved being in the parish, she had long been drawn to teaching. Her work at Luther combines the calls of teacher and pastor.
She enjoys working with the students, whom she calls "bright, engaged and excited." Among her classes is a course on the Pentateuch, which she teaches online. "This is a new way of doing theological education, and Luther is at the forefront," she says.
Schifferdecker is overjoyed to find herself at Luther. "I'm a Lutheran born and bred, and this feels like home," she says. "The seminary is committed to building up the body of Christ by equipping lay and ordained ministers for the work of mission and ministry. And I'm excited to be a part of that effort."
Learn more about Kathryn Schifferdecker at www.luthersem.edu/kschiffer
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