Story Magazine - Fourth Quarter, 2003

Annual Report: Called to the Podium

Jon Strommen Campbell, Master of Sacred Music, 2002

Harmonious voices lifted in song, the golden tones of the two bell choirs--even the cacophony of hammers and saws as Bethel Lutheran, Rochester, Minn., constructs its new 1000-seat sanctuary--all of it is music to Jon Strommen Campbell's ears, and his have been professionally trained. His opportunity at Bethel came after he earned his master of sacred music degree at Luther Seminary. "The M.S.M. program really gave me a sense of vocation," he says. "I grow as a person of faith as I do what I love." Now Jon's ears are helping him consult with the builders and engineers who will make sure that Bethel's new acoustics sound like heaven.

Jon came to seminary well prepared, having spent his youth active in choral music. There are few sacred music programs available in the U.S., and Luther Seminary shone like a beacon. "Just to have the audition was a thrill to me," Jon says. "I was passionately excited afterward."

A lot of what Jon took away with him from Luther is an awareness of new connections--a personal network that allows him access to industry experts and consultants, but also a sense of being a connector for others. "Being pastoral and musical, I understand the pastor's language and the concerns of theology," he says. "But I also understand the concerns of other groups--the artists and lay members. Because of the MSM program, it's easier for me to be a bridge between the two."

Doing what he loves has brought Jon much joy. One of the delightful surprises has been working with kids. "Although not my specialty in training, the enthusiasm of the young people has been more than I expected," he says. "Adults tend to be a little set in their ways, but kids don't have any prejudices. They don't know something's hard, they just do it." Jon makes daily use of the philosophy he learned at seminary: "Give them something to grow into instead of grow out of. Give them the best."