by Grace Pardun Alworth, M.Div. Middler
Hoping to build community and encourage current students, Pastor Pat Lehrer, '04, of West Nidaros Lutheran Church in Crooks, S.D., was on campus March 14-18 as this year's alum-in-residence. While at Luther, she attended classes, shared her story with students and preached in chapel.
"Leaders who are committed to discerning what God is up to in this time and this place will find creative new ways of building communities of faith which are outward-looking," Lehrer says.
Lehrer's joy and enthusiasm for the wider church are contagious. "Luther Seminary continues to be in the
forefront of leadership development. That is why I have such a passion for this seminary and I pray that the students here will take advantage of the outstanding missional theological education they are being offered," she says.
Lehrer received her Master of Divinity from Luther in 2004. As a student, she lived on campus during the week, returning home to her family in Sioux Falls most weekends. "I could not have done that without the support of my understanding husband!" she says.
Lehrer is now in her seventh year of her first call, serving West Nidaros Lutheran Church in rural Crooks. The congregation, 10 miles north of Sioux Falls, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. While the congregation is still home to many multi-generation farm families, the church is also seeing an influx of young families who have migrated to small towns nearby.
Lehrer preaches a message of hope and reconciliation. "It is a difficult time for many congregations in the ELCA. My hope is that the current tensions in our church will give way to a renewed focus on mission. I believe this is the perfect opportunity to pursue new opportunities for sharing the good
news of Jesus Christ."
Luther Seminary has welcomed an alum-in-residence each year since 1999. The alum-in-residence stays on campus for approximately one week and preaches in chapel, speaks in seminary classes, meets with faculty members, visits formally and informally with students and eats meals in the dining room. Learn more about past alums-in-residence at www.luthersem.edu/alums/council/alumres.aspx.