Story Magazine

Second Quarter, 2007

Notes from the Mission Field

by Richard Bliese, President and Associate Professor of Mission

Graduation on May 27 was a great celebration of leadership for the church. The new bells, at Central Lutheran Church, the largest of which is 4,800 pounds, marked the day of Pentecost with a powerful ring of the Spirit. "I will begin my new ministry in the parish in just three weeks," remarked one student after the ceremony. "This worship service was just what I needed to get me started." The leaders walked up to the altar and promised to serve their Lord faithfully wherever the wind of the Spirit sends them. In all, 178 leaders graduated--the largest graduation in over 10 years! These students literally came from every corner of the earth; and now, in the spirit of Pentecost, these leaders will be sent out to the whole world. The day was spirit-filled; it was glorious!

After one week of down time--yes, one week!--classes began afresh on Luther Seminary's campus. "There is no summer break at Luther Seminary; the students keep coming," commented one seasoned faculty member. Another added: "It's my favorite time to teach courses. It's more relaxed."

It's true. The seminary in summer runs just like many congregations in summer; that is, there is no actual "down time" from June through August. One busy season just transitions into the next. Summer Greek, Doctor of Ministry cohorts in Biblical Preaching and Congregation Mission and leadership, Kairos lifelong learning classes, conferences, distributed learning students in the Children,Youth and Family Program, Clinical Pastoral Education classes. The classrooms are filled. The air is full with the buzz of learning. It's a different rhythm during the summer. Students--and some faculty members--are wearing shorts. The campus is a beehive of activities.

On another summer note, our strategic planning survey results pointed out that "Relevance of the Christian message" was top on the list for what the church needs from future leaders. One summer program addressing this is the distributed learning program for Children, Youth and Family. They spend most of the fall and spring taking their courses online. In the summer, however, they gather on campus for intensive courses. (In June, 25 distributed learning students were on campus for intensive classes.) The goal of these courses is to teach students to relate the gospel to people in the first third of life. The excitement around these programs is particularly noticeable as these leaders from all around the country gather in the cafeteria for lunch and in their dorms at night to share their stories about youth ministry.

Summer is almost over as you read this! A very large entering class of students is coming to campus this fall. Summer, thank God, was a busy "down time."