Story Magazine - Second Quarter, 2008

Meet Luther Seminary’s Newest Faculty Members

Mary Sue Dreier, Associate Professor of Congregational Mission and Leadership

Mary Sue Dreier spent 25 years in the ministry, serving rural, suburban and mission-start congregations and on the staff of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. She recently completed her Ph.D. thesis and will receive her degree from Luther Seminary in May.

What drew you to Luther Seminary?
I've learned so much in my studies here, caught the CML vision, and I'm excited to help train new missional leaders for the church.

What are your particular areas of interest?
New church developments, rural congregations and the challenges facing both pastors and their congregations in this new era of mission. I'm interested in how congregations connect hospitably to the communities in which God has planted them.

How has your time on campus been so far?
I've been around here working on my Ph.D. since the fall of 2003 (and received my M.Div. from here in 1979), so it's a delight to have the opportunity to "give back" to Luther Seminary for all it has given to me. The new impressions come from seeing life on the faculty side now. Even more than before, I am in awe of the gracious way the Luther faculty members juggle multiple tasks and work tirelessly for the mission of the seminary, for the love of the church, and for the glory of God. I pray I can keep up!

Why do you think what you do is important for the mission of the church?
The Congregational Mission and Leadership program has the mission of the church at its heart. It is committed to training new missional (church) leaders, and offers increasing numbers of courses to help students prepare theologically for this new era of mission.

What are you most excited about as you begin your time at Luther?
Simply: the students, with their call and passion to serve the church--and especially as they catch the Luther Seminary missional vision and carry on lively theological conversation around it.

Mark Granquist, Visiting Professor of Church History

Mark Granquist spent 15 years on the faculties of Gustavus Adolphus College and St. Olaf College; served as pastor of youth and education at Bethel Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minn.; and oversaw numerous interim parishes since his 1988 ordination.

What drew you to Luther Seminary?
It's an interesting new challenge after 15 years of college teaching, the ability to offer courses that were more closely tied to my academic specialty and the ability to be a part of theological education for Christian leaders.

What are your particular areas of interest?
General area, religion in America -- more specifically, Lutherans in North America -- most specifically, Scandinavian-American religious groups.

How has your time on campus been so far?
Students are much more diverse in age, educational background and interests than college (students), but there's more of a sense of a shared purpose among the students, too.

Why do you think what you do is important for the mission of the church?
We talk all the time about "contextual" learning, "reading the audiences," etc. I think especially one of the most contextual subjects you can learn in seminary is the history of religion in North America -- this is how you can relate to the religious world into which our students will go for ministry.

What are you most excited about as you begin your time at Luther?
The opportunity to work with fine and interesting colleagues and students.

Steven Häggmark, Associate Professor in the areas of Islamic Studies and Christian Mission and World Religions Director, Global Mission Institute

Steven Häggmark was an adjunct faculty member at Luther Seminary and visiting professor in the department of religion at Gustavus Adolphus College for six years. He has also taught extensively at post-secondary institutions in India and Indonesia, and led continuing theological education classes in Malaysia and Singapore.

What drew you to Luther Seminary?
My experiences in the Muslim contexts of Indonesia and Malaysia sparked an intense interest in Islam and the Christian experience in an Islamic environment. As director of the Global Mission Institute, I will be able to fulfill a longstanding desire to interact more directly with our brothers and sisters from around the world.

What are your particular areas of interest?
I am deeply interested in pursuing more in-depth studies of Islam and the engagement of Islam with Christians. I am especially interested in helping people in our congregations gain a beginning knowledge of Islam without the usual stereotypes (that) neither further our relations with Muslims nor promote a fruitful environment for the gospel.

How has your time on campus been so far?
It's been very rewarding, but very busy.  The support of my brothers and sisters on the faculty and staff, who have bent over backward to make the transition as easy and fruitful as possible, is something for which I am very grateful.

What are you most excited about as you begin your time at Luther?
The opportunity to interact with experienced students and faculty as I continue to discover new avenues for my vocation as a teacher in the church.

Theresa Latini, Assistant Professor of Congregational and Community Care

Most recently, Theresa Latini served on the faculty of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and served a Pennsylvania congregation while earning her Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

What drew you to Luther Seminary?
Luther's emphasis on the church as confessional and missional fits my own beliefs about the church's needs in today's multicultural and pluralistic world. I am excited by Luther's willingness to create innovative programs to meet the educational needs of ministers-to-be.

What are your particular areas of interest?
Currently, I am co-authoring a book that focuses on helping ministers and congregations live into their professed unity in Christ.  It teaches such skills as listening with empathy, staying in the dialogue and responding to criticism. I plan to teach a course on this topic sometime soon at Luther!

Why do you think what you do is important for the mission of the church?
My field, pastoral and congregational care, focuses on the wholeness and well-being of clergy and future clergy. It seeks to equip future ministers to be faithful stewards of their own vocation in the midst of an array of challenges. PC courses help mitigate the high rate of burn-out and stress among clergy, which in turn hamper the church's capacity to live with hope in our world.

What are you most excited about as you begin your time at Luther?
I am excited not only to teach M.A. and M.Div. students but also Ph.D. students in Luther's pastoral care and counseling program. Many of our students will teach pastoral care in seminaries throughout the world. They will influence a multitude of ministers in their own contexts and thus contribute to the mission of the global church.