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Story Magazine

Fall 2011

Innovative mission course energizes seminarians and Las Vegas congregations

"What happens in Vegas doesn't necessarily stay in Vegas, at least as far as the church is concerned," Jerry Routh, a Las Vegas resident and Luther Seminary donor, said about a unique, three-week pilot course. This missional study of the church in the west brought seven students to Las Vegas last January.

Gifts to Luther Seminary prepare students for church leadership through innovative courses and cross-cultural experiences. Donors, like Cheryl and Jerry Routh, support Luther knowing their gifts help prepare leaders to serve the church in mission in their own backyard and throughout the world.

Associate Professor of Children, Youth and Family Ministry Terri Elton, who led the course, said, "We wanted to look at how we are preparing students for a world where not everyone goes to church. The church in the west is much different than the church in the east."

Grant Applehans, a 2011 Master of Divinity graduate, said, "We had a chance to hear from innovative pastors and parishioners about how they have seen God in action in their community and imagine with them how the Spirit may be calling them forth.

And, in return, the seven host congregations were invigorated by their time with the students—an opportunity that without this course they may not have been able to experience.

"One pastor said to me, 'It has been so important and energizing to have a seminary student present in our congregation,'" Cheryl Routh said.

This mutual enthusiasm is not likely to wear off any time soon.

"Two of the students said this was one of the most profound classes they've had at Luther," Elton said. "They said that they'd be leaders in a dramatically different way based on taking this class."

"In less than a month of being in my first call, I've already implemented ideas based on what I learned," Theresa Riewestahl said. "I can imagine many times throughout my ministry that I will reflect and make decisions based on what I learned from this amazing experience."

Gifts to Luther Seminary support innovative courses like this Las Vegas cross-cultural experience. They also provide funding for the development of online courses and resources for smart classrooms, along with many other state-of-the-art learning tools, all aimed to equip future leaders for ministry. To learn more how you can help educate church leaders for their diverse calls to ministry, contact the Office of Seminary Relations at 888-358-8437 or

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