Story Magazine - Spring/Summer, 2012

Meet the first M.Div. DL cohort members, who graduated on May 20, 2012

Mike Carlson, Willmar, Minn.
Area Churches Together Parish, a six-point ministry cluster in Sunburg, Murdock and DeGraff, Minn.

"I always felt called to serve the church but couldn't understand why I should give up serving to do seminary .... I truly believe God opened this door, not only for me, but many of my fellow cohort members!"

Gordon Sandquist, Leonardville, Kan.
Olsburg-Walsburg Lutheran Parish, Olsburg, Kan.

"I chose the DL program because of its flexibility and availability to earn my M.Div. without having excessive debt at the end. I wouldn't trade the opportunities that God has provided over these past five years for any level of simplified life."

Ryan Ray, Hickory, N.C.
Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Granite Falls, N.C.

"The DL program has been a wonderful adventure. I have made some of my closest friends, done tons of hands-on learning in my context, and experienced the Spirit's leading in the most tangible way of my entire life. Through this program, God has made it abundantly clear that I have been called to ministry."

Laurie Neill, Moorhead, Minn.
First Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D.

"I had been toying with the ministry for a few years and [the DL] program made it possible for me to pursue a Master of Divinity degree."

Amy Juel-Palmer, Willmar, Minn.
Area Churches Together Parish, a six-point ministry cluster in Sunburg, Murdock and DeGraff, Minn.

"Online learning with a sprinkling of intensives has been a great experience for me. The networks and friendships that we have formed across the miles in our cohort are amazing, and our times spent together during intensives have helped to solidify those relationships as well as our connection to Luther."

Stephanie Lape, Corona, Calif.
Faith Lutheran Church, Sun City, Calif.

"I have made fantastic lifelong friends and colleagues in the DL program and learned from them about the ELCA around the country. I have also kept my family and home intact as I believe God has led me. We are all looking forward to the next step of full-time ministry."

Paul Shumaker, Paynesville, Minn.
Norway Lake Parish, New London, Minn., as seminary intern;
Ridgewater College, Willmar, Minn., as interim chaplain


"Within this program God provided us with a great education and a glimpse into the greater church body and larger world, which reminds us daily of God's work--not just in our little corner of the world but in many parts of God's creation!"

Barb Gwynn, St. Paul, Minn. (previously Spokane Valley, Wash.)
Peace Lutheran, Lauderdale, Minn.

"My children were both college students when I began the M.Div. DL program at Luther Seminary. Staying in Spokane was good for all of us, as each one transitioned to new roles in life."

Kris Trahnstrom, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Faith Lutheran Church, Lander, Wyo.

"Facing the daunting decision of following God's persistent call and beginning seminary in my 40s with a wife and two children, the DL program allowed me the opportunity to do so without uprooting my family two or three times in the process. ... It was truly the Spirit at work."