Story Magazine - Fall, 2013

Alum Heads Lutheran Church in Liberia

by Denika Anderson, M.A. Junior

Many pastors find themselves filling several different roles in their ministry—preacher, counselor, event planner, youth chaperone, church dinner chef—even repair person. D. Jensen Seyenkulo, '87, is no exception. He is chief executive officer of the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL), chair of the executive council meetings and the biannual conventions, and the official spokesperson of the church. In this role, he assigns, supervises and counsels pastors and deacons/deaconesses, makes and implements church policies, oversees the offices of the general secretary and treasurer of the LCL and represents the church in various public arenas.

Though this role is daunting, Seyenkulo claims his studies at Luther Seminary prepared him well for it.

"The exposure to other views, especially the international context in which I studied, helped give me the ability to think objectively," he said. "Luther was a representation of many different church bodies. Each had its own value that helped me reflect on my own in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. I was encouraged to form my own opinion while valuing others', even if I did not agree with theirs."

Seyenkulo also serves as ELCA program director for disability ministries and support for rostered leadership.

As bishop of the LCL, he faces many challenges, the greatest of which is financial need. Because the LCL is relatively small and is in need of qualified leaders, it often cannot carry out as many of the ministries as it would like. However, Seyenkulo is hopeful.

"Even this challenge is an opportunity to allow God to use us to accomplish great things with the little we have. We are compelled to depend on the God we serve more and more. And so far, God has not disappointed us. The pace is slow, sometimes frustratingly slow, but we are learning to wait on God's time."

Two Master of Arts students from the LCL began their studies at Luther this fall on Seyenkulo's recommendation. F. Philip L. Nushann Jr. and Jesse G.S. King Sr. are jointly sponsored by ELCA Global Mission and Luther Seminary.

To future church leaders who have a similar passion for the global church, he has some advice: "Take advantage of the educational opportunities to equip ourselves in diverse areas when the chance is provided us. The needs are many; theology alone is not enough."

To read more stories like this, visit www.luthersem.edu/gmi

To learn more about the LCL, visit www.elca.org/liberia