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Students sitting outside Bockman

Story Magazine

Spring/Summer 2012

Musical mission: M.S.M. grad elected president of New Zealand Church

by Christy Hallenbeck Ask, M.Div. '15

Earlier this year the Rev. Mark Whitfield, '93, was elected president of the Lutheran Church in New Zealand.

It is with humility and gratitude that the Master of Sacred Music graduate speaks of his Luther Seminary degree in relation to his leadership.

Nearly 20 years have passed since Whitfield completed his M.S.M. degree. "I still look back at the seminary, in a sense, expecting it to continue to inspire and shape me for ministry," he said. "The experiences I had and the relationships I formed at Luther Seminary paved the way for integration into the wider support network of musicians, cantors and pastors from various places throughout the world, which continues to be useful for ministry."

As reflected in his M.S.M. studies, Whitfield brings a connection of liturgical and musical mission to his pastoral ministry.

"One of the chief affirmations for me during my study for the M.S.M. degree," Whitfield said, "was that music and worship ministry was indeed pastoral, alongside visiting and leading Bible studies, running youth group and attending meetings."

Whitfield plans to bring such connections to his leadership to the unique organization and congregations of the LCNZ.

"My time at Luther Seminary and in the ELCA revealed to me the incredible opportunity that exists for Lutheran music heritage--much of it in the making now (therefore very much a living heritage)," he said, "to connect the church with its community and to introduce people to the living Lord Jesus Christ."

To learn more about the LCNZ, visit