Story Magazine

Fourth Quarter, 2003

Annual Report: Called to the Parish

Mary Bosell, Master of Divinity, 2003
Mary Bosell gained a new perspective after she graduated from Luther Seminary. While she now serves as associate pastor at Burlington Lutheran Church in Burlington, Wash., parish ministry wasn't always her top priority. "Global mission was my first love," she explains. "Taking a position in a parish in America required some mental and emotional gymnastics--I'm still doing some of those."

In 1989, Bosell went with her husband to China to teach English. They ended up living there for eight years. Both converted to Lutheranism while working for a Norwegian Lutheran mission in Hong Kong. "I fell in love with Lutheran theology," Bosell says, "and that's why I came to Luther Seminary."

Bosell understands mission is still at the heart of her call. "I serve in a hundred-year-old parish that is struggling to reshape its missional identity in a changing world. To see that coming alive is very exciting."

For Bosell, growing into the needs and demands of parish ministry has been a process of discovery. "I never signed on to do youth ministry," she says, "yet I have become willing to do that. This is now my mission field. I've decided that I will learn to speak a new dialect--youth--in order to communicate the gospel to young people in this context."

Bosell's new life has brought new relationships that have been a source of joy. "While visiting Tierra Nueva, a local Hispanic mission, I met a man named Gonzalo and invited him to our Lenten suppers," she said. "When he first peeked into our church basement and saw a roomful of white people speaking English, he couldn't bring himself to come in. Now he comes to church here nearly every Sunday."

"It's very good for us to be in contact with people different from ourselves. People in churches like to be the ones to give, not realizing that we are also the ones who need to receive. All of us are God's mission field. Likewise, all of us are called to participate in each other's stories of redemption."

Bosell seeks to bring her passion for mission to her work with youth. "My dream is to take our youth on a trip to Central America and have it led by local Hispanic Christians. How could we not be transformed by an experience like that?"