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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

The unexpected turns

Life takes unexpected turns. We all know that, but it can still be unsettling when those turns involve us.

Many of you are aware of some of those unsettling turns here at Luther. Last week, following the earlier announcement of President Rick Bliese’s resignation, I accepted the invitation to serve as Luther’s interim president, beginning Jan. 1, 2013. I ask you to keep all of us, including Rick and Nina Bliese, in your prayers.

Many of you were also aware that I had made plans to retire as of June 30, 2013. A search committee had already been put in place and was beginning to look for the next Director of Contextual Learning (CL). Because of my altered plans that process is being stepped up. We are also tending to the short-term CL stability as well as the long-range plans. Despite the challenges, I believe this will go well.

There are a couple of pieces of the CL picture that I want to share.

First, as you know, Sally Messner resigned this fall to spend time at home as a new mother. Because a new director would be arriving within months it seemed inappropriate to make a permanent replacement. We have been blessed to have Nicole (Nikki) Fielder, a 2012 M.Div. graduate, as a temporary team member while she awaited call. Many of you have interacted with her by phone or email. The good news is that Nikki just received a call as associate pastor at Christ Lutheran in Marine on St. Croix, Minn. We are delighted for her! Of course, that means she will leave our team.

The next good news is that Ingrid Arneson Rasmussen, an M.Th. student currently awaiting call, has agreed to join our CL team in the meantime. We are delighted and grateful.

Finally, while the search committee for the new director is speeding up its work, there is no reasonable way to have someone on Jan. 1, when I will assume my new responsibilities. For at least the month of January, Kathryn Ostlie-Olson will serve as the acting director, and Steve McKinley (familiar to most of you, and a part-time deployed CL team member for the past 8 years), will put in additional time to assist Kathryn, including a couple days a week on campus in the CL office.

We expect this to go well. We also expect that, despite our best efforts, we may be a little slower to respond to correspondence than usual. I ask that you especially keep the CL team: Kathryn, Kate, Ingrid, Steve, and Julie Josund, in your prayers.

One last thing: I have been deeply blessed by the opportunity to serve in this capacity for the past 4 1/2 years. I ask your prayers in the months ahead. These unexpected turns can be unsettling, but I want you to know that I’m at peace. May you be, as well. 

God bless,

Rick Foss

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