by Angela Denker, M.Div. Intern
Few colleges have brought as many students to Luther Seminary as Gustavus Adolphus College.
For the past 12 years, that well-trod path from Gustavus to Luther seemed to make one essential stop: Old Main office 304H.
From that humble office in St. Peter, Minn., trekked more students than Professor Darrell Jodock could count— students searching for discernment, wondering about God's call, about their own vocation and the possibility that they might come to seminary.
Jodock, who received a Master of Divinity degree from Luther in 1966 and taught at the seminary from 1969-73 and 1975-78, can't even remember all the conversations, like the time he went to speak at a former student's congregation, and the student introduced him by remembering the time Jodock encouraged him to stick with seminary just through internship.
"I tried internship and now here I am," the student-turned-pastor said. Many current Luther students and alums have stories like that—and the memories flowed for Jodock over the past few months, as he prepared to leave the classroom for good. He officially retired as the Drell and Adeline Bernhardson
Distinguished Professor in Religion at Gustavus on Aug. 31. He will remain in St. Peter for at least the next year working on a research grant from the Templeton Foundation to write about science and religion.
"For me it was always about the students," Jodock said in June, back in his office after a trip to attend a former student's wedding and taking a break from writing a recommendation letter for another former student. "How can I say this? If this job didn't involve teaching, I wouldn't do it."
Said Ben Hilding, Luther M. Div. intern and Gustavus grad, "There is a part of Dr. Jodock that never leaves you. He cared enough about me personally to come to our wedding and my college graduation party. ... Since then, he has left the door open for continuous conversation about faith, life and ministry."
Hilding, who decided to major in religion after taking Jodock's course, titled "Luther and His Legacy," said Jodock's name is a common bond among Gusties at Luther today.
"The ticket to acceptance was to start talking about Dr. Jodock ... When I talk to Gustie alumni at Luther, as soon as we bring up Dr. Jodock's name, we are mutually reassured of our worth as human beings and our call to Christian service."