Header Graphic

History of the Lay School of Ministry

1992-3 Under the leadership of Dick Bruesehoff (assistant to Bishop Knutson) a group of pastors (Greg Kaufmann, Don Wisner, James Homme, and Dick) gathered to envision a program in the Synod that would take seriously our belief in the ministry of all the baptized, and of life long learning. It was believed that to meet the varied ministry needs of the coming millenium, the Synod needed to equip all its ministers (the baptized) in a very intentional way. The Lay School of Ministry grew out of that conversation. Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Chippewa Falls agreed to host the LSM, and its members offered to provide free housing for all participants who needed it.

1993-4 The first class of the LSM began. Faculty included Prof. Marc Kolden of Luther Seminary (systematics and church history), and Pastors Don Wisner (worship), Greg Kaufmann (Biblical studies), and Dick Bruesehoff (spiritual formation).

1994-5 In addition to year 2 of the first class, a second group began, with the addition of two new faculty. Their course work remained the same, with Prof. Gary Simpson of Luther Seminary handling the systematics piece and Pastor Mary Jorgensen taking the Biblical studies.

1995-6 The third group of LSM students formed. Since Marc Kolden was named Academic Dean of Luther Seminary, his place on the teaching team was taken by Lois Malcom, also of Luther Seminary.

1996-7 Due to the number of laity interested in becoming the fourth group to start the Lay School of Ministry, two new groups were started. In order to provide enough faculty, the Rev. Dale Freberg was invited to teach the Biblical material, along with Mary Jorgensen. The rest of that teaching team remained the same.

1997-8 With the departure of Rev. Bruesehoff to Chicago, the Rev. Keith Holste, a D-Min student at Luther Sem. and a pastor in our synod, was asked to teach the Spiritual Formation piece for both years. The fifth LSM class also began this year.

1998-9 In addition to the 6th LSM class beginning their two year course of study, several other firsts occurred. A governing board comprised of past participants was formed. The need for continuing education for past participants was also addressed in two ways. First, a third year option was offered in the area of "biblical evangelism." The faculty was comprised of Rev. Mark Olson, Rev. Dale Freberg, and Rev. Carm Aderman (Assistant to Bishop Bob Berg). Second, the board decided to offer two overnight retreats each year (one in the Fall and one in the Spring) to past participants. Luther Park Bible Camp was chosen as the site.

1999-2000 Enrollments of 22 first year, 23 second year and 18 "third" year students. The topic for Year three was "Who is Jesus?" and the extra Track B has a focus on Christian Education, led by Ruth Lundblad. We continued the tradition of a Fall and Spring Retreat. The Fall Retreat featured Pastor Greg Kaufmann, who taught his course on the "Formation of the New Testament Canon." The Spring retreat featured Dr. Gary Simpson, who answered the question, "Is there a Lutheran Ethic of Marriage?"

2000-2001 Enrollment - 24 first year students, 21 second year and 12 Continuing Education. The Continuing Education theme was "Our Neighbor's Faith." Friday night Pastor Dale Freberg led the group in a study of Acts. Saturday mornings Luther Seminary faculty and guests explored different world religions. The Fall Retreat was on Judaism, led by Dr. Helaine Minkus. The summer retreat, held at Lake Wapogasset Bible Camp, featured Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe of our companion synod in Malawi.

2001-2002 Enrollment - Year one 26, year two 23, and 28 continuing education. The Theme for the Continuing Education year, taught by Rev. Jeanne Dahl of Luther Seminary, was "Luther and Contemporary Church Issues." The theme of our retreat, held in April at Luther Park, was "Food and the Bible." It was lead by John Kurshner, Greg Kaufmann and Nancy Lund.

2002-2003 Enrollment - 26 first year, 21 second year and 39 continuing ed. students. Continuing Education studies Revelation on Friday. Saturday the topic was Science and the Faith. This was led by Augsburg College, Luther Seminary, University of Minnesota, UW-EC and ELCA Churchwide staff. This is the first year where Continuing Ed. students could choose either Friday or Saturday topics, or both.

2003-2004 Enrollment - 38 first year, 28 second year and 38 continuing ed. students. Continuing Education studies Genesis on Friday with Rev. Dale Freberg. Saturday the topic is Christian Ethics taught by Dr. David Fredrickson of Luther Seminary. Students could choose either Friday or Saturday topics, or both.

2004-2005 Enrollment - 19 first year, 38 second year and 27 continuing ed. Continuing Education changed its format this year, offering weekend long classes with the same professor and topic. Continuing ed. offered three different topics: Grief and Loss/Substance Abuse (two sessions), Islam (two sessions) and Biblical Translation (5 sessions). Continuing ed. participants were able to take one, two or all three topics. [Pictures] Our Fall Retreat was at Chetek Lutheran with Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe [Pictures] from Malawi. This two day retreat centered on church music, church history and day to day life in parishes in Malawi. A part the cost of this retreat for many participants was covered by a grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

The Lay School of Ministry Board was pleased that 67 past participants signed up for the Continuing Education class for the 2005-2006 LSM year. 27 first year students and 17 second year students were enrolled.

As we did last year, the Board decided to again combine the Friday evening and Saturday morning classes into one. Courses ran Friday evening from 7-10 PM and Saturday morning from 8:30 - Noon. This allowed us to bring in some exciting faculty members from around the country who are knowledgeable about our topics.

The theme for this year was Martin Luther and the Reformation Era.  Theses classes were filmed for Select Learnings Luther's Legacy for Laity DVD resource.

The September 9-10, 2005 session was presented by LSM founder, Dick Bruesehoff, Director of Leadership Support with the Division For Ministry of the ELCA. His first topic area was roots of Lutheran spirituality. He also took us on a visual tour of Reformation sites. [Pictures]

November 11-12, 2005 session was presented by Kathryn Kleinhans from Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. She focused on Luther's The Bondage of the Will, with attention to the themes of sin, necessity, and salvation. She also covered the issues of sin, forgiveness and penance with some applicability to current issues.

Our December 9-10, 2005 we met with Professor David Lose from Luther Seminary. He presented on key ideas of Luther with particular focus on Luther's doctrine of two kingdoms. How did that doctrine play out then - the peasants war - and how does it play out now?

The January 13-14, 2006 session was presented by Professor Timothy Wengert of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Professor Wengert spoke on the formation and importance of the Book of Concord. Professor Wengert is the editor of the current edition of the Book of Concord we use as a text in LSM. He also touched on Philip Melanchthon. [Pictures]

The February 10-11, 2006 session was presented by Darrell Jodock, Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College and chair of the Teaching Theologians of the ELCA. His topic was Other Themes in Luther and their Relevance For Today. By other, Darrell means, themes in addition to Justification By Grace Through Faith. Darrell talked about the importance of "God active in the world" and about its implications for our vocation in the world. Other themes covered included: Luther's theology of the cross, the centrality of community and the importance of creation. [Pictures]

In March 10-11, 2006 our focus was on the life and importance of Martin Luther with Professor Kurt Hendel of Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. [Pictures]

Our April 7-8, 2006 session was to be with Jane Strohl, Professor of Reformation History and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) in Berekely, CA. Her topic was to be "Other Voices of the Reformation." Who were the people that the Lutheran Confessions label as "our opponents" and what were their positions? Included wasto be: The Catholic Reformation and the Council of Trent, the Reform tradition, both the Zwinglian and Calvinist movements, the Anabaptists, and the radicals. However, due to health issues, Professor Strohl was rescheduled for a summer retreat. In her absence due to an illness, Companion Synod Coordinator, Diane Kaufmann spoke on the recent Malawi Choir tour and Arlan Bergquist spoke on our Synod's gift of a portable church to the Texas-Louisianna Synod in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Bonus: Our guest presenter for the May 12-13, 2006 session was Mphatso Thole (Companion Synod Coordinator, Malawi.) [Pictures]

Professor Jane Strohl - PLTS came for a special summer retreat session held in Rice Lake and taught the course she missed due to illness - all Lay School participants were welcome. [Pictures]

For the 2006-2007 LSM year we experienced our first low enrollment year and didn't begin a new first year class - second year graduated 24 and continuing ed had over 30 attend. Faculty changes included Don Wisner retiring and the Board was pleased that Pastor David K. Anderson from Immanuel in Eau Claire took the worship class. Pastor Mary Jorgensen switched from teaching Biblical Studies to Spiritual Formation.

The Continuing Education topic was The Apostle Paul and the First Century World.

September: Dr. David Tiede (Augsburg College) Dr. Tiede, a recognized Lukan scholar, introduced us to Paul and the first century world using the book of Acts as his lens. Luke's Acts could very well be titled the Acts of Peter and Paul, with Peter dominating the first 12 chapters and Paul the final 16! How can Luke's Paul inform our own calls to be active in loving service in the 21st century? [Pictures]

October: Dr. Darrell Jodock (Gustavus Adolphus College) and Dr. Karla Suomala (Luther College) Drs. Jodock and Suomala, both experts in Judaism, introduced us to Paul the Pharisee. Herod's temple wasn't destroyed by the Romans until 71 CE, and since Judaism was still a key player on the world religious scene until that time, and since Paul claims to be the best Pharisee that ever lived...well sort of....they introduced us to the various versions of Judaism of that time, and what that meant for Paul as he travelled from one city to another. [Pictures]

November: Dr. Phil Quandbeck III (Augsburg College) Dr. Quanbeck, leader of study trips to Greece, and participants in archeological digs, and an expert on Paul's use of Greek rhetoric in his letters, introduced us to the urban context of Paul's ministry. How Paul did his ministry in the different cities of Greece and Asia Minor (modern Turkey) was Dr. Quanbeck's focus. He also shared stunning slides of the ruins of the cities Paul visited. [Pictures]

December: Dr. David Rhoads (Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago) Dr. Rhoads is Paul! He has memorized a number of NT books, including Galatians. When Dr. Rhoads stands in front of the class and "talks us through" the entire book the letter comes alive. Dr. Rhoads shared how Paul's lens on why the cross is good news colors how we see the different Gospel's take on the same issues.

Jan. - May. Dr. David Fredrickson (Luther Seminary, St. Paul) The LSM was pleased to welcome back once again Dr. Fredrickson. An expert on Paul, and a frequent traveler to the cities Paul visited, Dr. Fredrickson shared his insight with the class as he took the group through the seven genuine letters of Paul. [Pictures]

2007-2008 Enrollment - 42 first year students, and 52 Continuing Education. No second year class.  Continuing Education. . The topic was "From Exodus to Jesus: A Look at the History, Literature and People." Faculty included Phil Ruge-Jones, Texas Lutheran; Dennis Olson, Princeton Theological Seminary; Esther Menn, LSTC [Pictures]; Ralph Klein, LSTC [Pictures]; Gary Stansell, St. Olaf College; Jim Aageson, Concordia College [Pictures], Minnesota; Monte Luker, Southern Seminary; Paul Hanson, Harvard [Pictures] and Casey Elledge, Gustavus Adolphus College [Pictures].

2008 - 2009 Enrollment - 22 first year students, 32 second year and 61 Continuing Education.

Continuing Education. The topic was "The Gospels - Canonical and Noncanonical."

September, Mark Allan Powell, Trinity Seminary, introduced the class to Gospel Literature. October, Ray Pickett, Lutheran Seminary in the Southwest, covered Luke. November, Richard Caemmerer Jr., Grunewald Institute, presented on Art and the Gospels. December, Jim Boyce, Luther Seminary, covered Matthew. January, Sarah Henrich, Luther Seminary, covered the Non-Canonical Gospels. February, Hans Wiersma, Augsburg College, presented on Film and the Gospels. March, Susan Briehl, Valparaiso University & Wartburg Seminary, covered John. April, Audrey West, LSTC, presented on Parables and the Gospels. May, Phil Ruge-Jones, Texas Lutheran University, did a live performance of the entire Gospel of Mark (which was filmed and is now available from Select Learning). He also led us on discussions of the oral tradition and the Gospels as well and covering additional aspects of Mark.

2009-2010 Continuing Education topic was the Old Testament Prophets. [Pictures]

Faculty School Prophet Month
Jeremy Hutton Princeton Former Prophets September 2009
Rod Hutton Trinity Seminary Amos & Hosea October 2009
Monte Luker Southern Seminary Micah November 2009
Eleanor Beach St. Ambrose University First Isaiah December 2009
Paul Hanson Harvard Jeremiah Jan 2010
Ralph Klein LSTC Ezekiel Feb 2010
Chip Bouzard Wartburg College 2nd & 3rd Isaiah March 2010
Bill Urbock UW-Oshkosh Jonah & others April 2010
James Vigen Director, Luther Institute The Prophets Today May 2010

2010-2011 Enrollment - 15 first year students, 23 second year and 45 Continuing Education.

Continuing Education - Christian History Overview

This year's continuing education class was shared using Skype with a group meeting at Trinity Lutheran in Lawrence, Kansas.  Part of the expenses were covered by a Thrivent grant. [Photo]

September 2010 – Martin Marty - University of Chicago - "A Short History of Christianity" [Pictures]

Dr. Marty [Photo] divided his presentation into three parts.

I. A satellite view of the Christian presence in history. Just as a satellite views features of and on the earth from a great distance, one which reduces them and makes their outlines clear, this first session will involve us "getting the big picture in which some main features will stand out." This would in a sense be a timed "geography" of the faith, the who and what and when and where of Christian doings, without the detail. Such an approach helps participants do their own sorting out of significances. Beginnings, early growth, acquiring empire, crusading, building cathedrals, fashioning systems of theology will make their appearance.

II. When a hurricane comes, many can flee its path. However, medical officials, firefighters, mass communicators, chaplains, and the like have to stay on the scene despite the dangers. In this second presentation we will move in closer, observing the structures, institutions, professions, and agencies of the Christian church, to see how leaders and followers interact in their efforts to serve and enjoy God and God's creation. Here there will be occasion to look at the arts and hear the music of Christianity, to study the way it communicates its meanings.

III. When storms come and go, it is the people "in the huts" in the pathway that feel them most. This third presentation will follow the outlines of what many today call "the people's history of the faith." In it we will take an historical look at practices, folklore, culture, ways of life, rituals, ways of coping, and ways of living out adventures, not always with the aid of popes and poets, but living out many meanings of the faith which historians formerly overlooked.

In all three cases we will be mindful of "what are the uses of Christian history." Dr. Marty likes to quote a British scholar who explained why he was an historian: "Because I find everything so odd, and I wonder how it got that way." Others say, "we study history in order to interrupt and overcome history." Abraham Lincoln guides others: "If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we might know what to do and how to do it."

He also expounded on the history of Dr. Hans Bibfeldt and his profound influence on Dr. Marty's career.

October 2010 - Kurt Hendel - LSTC - "Reforming the Church"

He addressed the following themes [Photo]
1. Heresy and Orthodoxy-with special focus on the Christological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries
2. Monasticism-which will include a concise survey of major monastic movements and some discussion of monastic ideals
3. Theological reform-with particular concentration on Luther
4. Reform of Piety-an exploration of German Pietism, especially Spener and Francke
5. Social Reform-Reformation; Anglican Evangelicals; Social Gospel

November 2010 - Phil Krey - LSTP - "Church in Times of Crisis" [Photo]

What is the role of the Bible in three major controversies over heresy and schism in the Early Church: The Trinitarian Controversy, the Donatist Controversy in North Africa, and the Pelagian Controversy? The role of the Bible was always more complicated than one might assume from our modern perspective. It was the interpretation of the Bible and trajectory of that interpretation that usually was decisive in the church catholic. A biblicist perspective, no matter how well grounded in the scriptures or in tradition, often lost out to the church's conversations with culture, philosophy, and need for inclusivity in a changing historical context. What are the parallels to our current debates about the role of the Bible in the church and how can we learn from ancient heresies in modern dress?

December 2010 - Guy Erwin - California University - "Sex, Marriage, Men and Women"

Dr. Erwin's presentation was cut in half by a record snowfall that began Friday evening during class. By Saturday morning we were forced to cancel Lay School classes, although almost 15 class members managed to get in and were fed breakfast.  Not only was Lay School cancelled, but so were all flights out from the Chippewa Valley Airport - for three days! [Photo]
January 2011 - Kit Kleinhans - Wartburg College - "The Development of Doctrine"  [Photo]

Friday evening: How the Creeds Came to Be

Saturday: How Our Understanding of the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion Developed

Suggested readings were:

Alan Richardson, Creeds in the Making or Frances Young, The Making of the Creeds

Here is more detail under the two main topic areas.

Why do Christians believe what we do? Many of our treasured Christian beliefs and practices have developed over time as Christians faithfully applied the Scriptures to new issues in changing contexts. Our two focus points will be the development of the Apostles and the Nicene Creeds in the early church and the development of Lutheran understandings of the sacraments at the time of the Reformation.

February 2011 - Darrell Jodock - Gustavus Adolphus College - "Transforming Society" [Photo]

March 2011 - Mark Tranvik - Augsburg College - "Peace and War"

April 2011 – Mark Wilhelm - Vocation and Education - ELCA -"Unifying the Church" [Photo]

An enduring hope for a unified Church, in the face of seemingly unending disputes and disunity, is a major theme in the history of Christianity. Christian leaders from St. Paul to the voting members of the ELCA's 2009 Churchwide Assembly have called upon Christians to remember that despite their disagreements they have "one Lord, one faith, one baptism;" that is, one Church. This session will explore the struggles and debates over unity and disunity in the Church. He identified the events and ideas that are considered by most historians to be the primary markers of the struggles and debates around ecclesial unity, from Imperial Rome's hope to unify the Church through the Council of Nicaea to the contemporary ecumenical movement and the ELCA's commitments to "unity in diversity" through its bi-lateral full communion agreements. In doing so, we will explore the question, "What does it mean for the Church to be unified?"

May 2011 – Samuel Torvend - Pacific Lutheran University - "Missionary Outreach" [Photo]

Such terms as "God's mission" and "missional church" have recently emerged among North American Lutherans and other communities of the magisterial reformation. Indeed, church agencies and religious entrepreneurs offer "strategies" which will extend the church's "mission" in our increasingly pluralistic culture. We pondered the question, "Why should Christians think of missionary outreach in the first place?" Why not "stay home" and tend to our own little corner of the world? We then explored different models of what it might mean to be an "apostolic" community today: Paul among the Romans; Patrick with the wild Irish ;Benedict's mission among invaders; De Las Casas' struggle with "Christian" conquistadors; Matteo Ricci in the Chinese imperial court; and Lutherans in Cameroon. On June 12, 2011, Christians will celebrate the Pentecost festival of the Spirit's outpouring some two thousand years ago. How might our study of missionary outreach offer us different ways to participate in that continual outpouring today?

2011-2012 - Enrollment - 25 first year students, 13 second year and 62 Continuing Education.

Continuing Education Faculty & Topics

Lutheran Answers to Real Questions

Sept 9-10       Susan McArver (Southern Seminary) [Photo]
Topic: Why do Lutherans make such a big deal about our baptism? What do we mean when we say that all the baptized are called to live out their vocation in the world? What does ministry in daily life look like through the many stages of our lives?
Oct  7-8       Eli Hernandez, Assistant Director for Outreach, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service [Photo]
Topic: As an immigrant church, should Lutherans be a part of the national debate over immigration? Does the Biblical perspective on the “sojourner in our midst” help shape what Lutheran’s bring to the conversation? What has been our own history with immigration? Do we have an ethical perspective on the pressures that drive immigration, and the administrative bottlenecks that contribute to the rising tide of undocumented immigrants?

Nov 11-12      Carol Schersten Lahurd (LSTC) [Photo]
Topic: What is the role of Lutheranism in a religiously pluralistic society? How should the ELCA relate to the varied Jewish traditions represented in the USA? What should our role be towards our Islamic neighbors? Should we work together with other faith traditions on social issues?
Dec 9-10       David Fredrickson (Luther Seminary) [Photo]
Topic: What should the church say regarding the criminal justice system? Does the fact that the vast majority of people incarcerated are minorities go against our own Scriptural roots? Does criminalizing everything actually lead to a safer society? What should we say about rehabilitation of those who are incarcerated?


Jan 13-14      Bishop Mark Hanson (ELCA Presiding Bishop) [Photo] [Photo] [Photo]

Topic: What is the calling of the church, and what is the best way to organize it? As a church committed to becoming a more missional church, how should we be structured? Does the current structure of our ELCA make sense in the 21st century? What does the emerging church movement have to teach us?
Feb 10-11      Ralph Klein (LSTC) [Photo] [Photo]              
Topic: Why do so many people fight about how to interpret the Bible? What did Martin Luther think about the Bible? Do Lutherans believe “in the Bible?” What do Lutherans have to say about inerrancy, infallibility and authority? Does the Left Behind series fit with a Lutheran understanding of the Bible?

March  9-10    Jim Martin-Schramm (Luther College) [Photo]
Topic: If heaven is our home, why should Lutherans care about ecological issues? Should we get involved in current scientific debates over cosmology, evolution or genetics? Does our Lutheran confessional heritage call us to care for the earth and what humans are doing to it? Do Lutherans offer a unique perspective in the debates over the interlocking problems of global warming, energy consumption, water availability and usage, and the loss of species?

April 13-14     Gary Simpson (Luther Seminary) [Photo]
Topic: Why should Lutherans care about the culture wars going on in our country? What is the vocation of the church in a polarized society? Should the church work for the common good of the society it finds itself in? Should the church be concerned about the growing economic inequality in the USA? How dangerous is the declining civic engagement and why should Lutherans care?
May 11-12       Phil Ruge Jones - (Texas Lutheran) [Photo]
Topic: Why do Lutherans emphasize the theology of the cross so much? Doesn’t God want to bless us? Why do Lutherans reject the very popular “prosperity gospel” movements? Does the theology of the cross leave any room for a theology of glory? What difference does this actually make in our own lives of faith?

Lay School Of Ministry Year One had 27 students, Year Two had 14 students and the Continuing Education Class had 67 students.  This year, Karl Jacobson, Augsburg College [Photo], taught Systematic Theology for both groups 1 and 2 while Professor Gary Simpson, Luther Seminary, was on sabbatical.  Again, this year's continuing education class was shared using Skype with a group meeting at Trinity Lutheran in Lawrence, Kansas.  Also, for the first time, audio pod-casts of the continuing ed sessions were given to Select Learning - www.selectlearning.org.  These podcasts are available for downloading on the Select Learning web site.

2012-13   Enrollment - 22 first year students, 20 second year and 51 Continuing Education.

LSM Continuing Education

Book of Faith Meets Missional Church

Sept. 14-15     Stephen Bouman, (Executive Director of Congregational and Synodical Mission, ELCA)
Bishop Duane Pederson and Director of Evangelical Mission, Amy Odgren of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin

This month's faculty made the case for a more missional orientation given our context and culture, stated the biblical imperative, provided some tools that folks could use with their own congregations, and provided examples as to what the missional church looks like synodically and nationally (successes/failures of those who have boldly stepped out in Christ’s name to witness to and serve neighbor as disciples, as individuals living out their baptismal vocations and as the community of faith.

“The Biblical Roots and Current Reality of the ELCA as a Missional Church."

Friday: Bishop Pederson[Photo] Stated the case and explain why the missional church is crucial for our time and culture.
Steve Bouman[Photo] Bible overview of missional imperative

Sat.: Amy Odgren[Photo] Mission planning tools and ways to explore mission context and do intentional strategic planning
Amy Odgren – Reviewed what’s happening on the territory of our synod;with examples of how the missional church is lived out
Steve Bouman – Overall movement of the ELCA that’s missional in orientation; reviewed what’s happening across the country 

Oct.  12-13      David Tiede (Past President of Luther Seminary and past Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College) [Photo] [Photo]

Apostolic Israel: How the Communities of Jesus were Scripturally Formed to Serve God’s Mission

Overview:       The Bible is the Church’s Book of Faith, and every assembly of believers is a community of interpretation in its worship, witness, and action. These sessions explored how Jesus and his communities of followers heard God’s apostolic calling to them in Israel’s scriptures. The Holy Spirit is at work both in what is written and how you read the scriptures.

October 12 Session One:  “All the Rest is Commentary!
At the time of Jesus, Israel’s scriptures (Torah, Prophets & Writings) were interpreted in varied communities. Their traditions embodied diverse convictions and defined their places in the world. Their hand-written scrolls were not yet our “Book of Faith,” but Israel’s scriptures were the common ground of the people of God and the contested ground for identifying faithfulness. Session One introduced this variety of communities of interpretation, exploring the social and theological worlds into which Jesus came. It wasn’t simple then. It isn’t now.

October 12  Session Two:  “That is What I Came Out to Do!”
Jesus is still remembered as a teacher and his followers are often called disciples or learners.  Appreciating his profound interpretation/enactment of the “script” of Israel’s scriptures is one of the best ways to understand why Jesus was so authoritative, and so adamantly denounced. Session Two investigated how Jesus enacted an embodied scriptural vision of God’s mission. Less original or heroic than often thought, Jesus was obedient to his role in the scriptural story.

October 13 Session Three: “An Instrument I have Chosen!”
Paul, “A Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee,” Paul’s abiding concern was Israel. In writing to churches, he opened the apostolic gates of Israel’s scriptures in the light of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He is often credited (and blamed) for the ways the communities of Jesus’ followers reached out to the varied peoples and nations of the Roman world.  In Session Three, the Apostle Paul taught us to read the scriptures to mobilize for mission.

October 13 Session Four: “That My Salvation may Reach to the End of the Earth!”
The four Gospels were probably written during the last third of the first century. The first three include many of the same stories. Selections from all four are read every week in Christian communities, then interpreted with deep deference to local pastoral and liturgical realities. Session Four sampled how varied selections (gospel pericopes) stir again with new power and challenge in the light of their apostolic (Spirit driven) vitality.

Nov. 9-10  Marty Stortz (Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College)[Photo]
Dr. Stortz [Photo] looked with us at the Beatitudes in Matthew's gospel as a strategy for the mission church.  We're called by blessing, which is itself kind of counter-cultural when you think about it.  The beatitudes commission blessed disciples to be a blessing for others.  Together they describe a church that is not tethered to place, but bound by practices.  And the great thing about practices is that you take them with you.

The missional church is about the apostolate, a group of disciples that moves out in the world.  It's no longer the abbey, a place where people are sequestered, nor a campus where people come to you.  The missional church is discipleship - with legs.

"Called by Blessing:  The Beatitudes as Strategies for a Missional Church"

  • Biblical blessings: What They Are -- and Do
  • "Blessed are the poor in spirit....": The practice of generosity.
  • "Blessed are those who mourn....": The practice of remembering the dead
  • "Blessed are the meek....:" The practice of civility
  • "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness....": The practice of feeding the hungry
  • "Blessed are the merciful....:" The practice of forgiveness"Blessed are the pure in heart....": The practice of the Lord's Supper
  • "Blessed are the peacemakers....": The practice of baptism
  • "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake....": The "corporal works of mercy"

Friday night:  sessions #1 and #2
Saturday morning:  sessions #3-#5

December 7-8  Diane Jacobson (Director of the Book of Faith Initiative) [Photo]
Alive in Our Congregations: Living Into and Out of Our Book of Faith

Overview: One of the deep challenges we face is how to help Scripture come alive in our congregations, not just for ourselves, but also for the sake of God’s world.  Many folks engaged in the Book of Faith Initiative have been meeting this challenge in creative ways that might help others do the same.  In our time together we explored both the depth of the challenge we face and some of the many opportunities for deeper and broader engagement that lie before us.

December 7 Session One: Formed By the Word: Challenges and Promise of Congregational Engagement with the Bible

We explored together some of the current challenges we face as a church committed to being deeply and continually formed by God’s Word in Scripture.  We thought particularly about the presuppositions and needs that everyday folk bring to Bible study and asked questions like: What would it look like in our place if Scripture really was our primary language of faith, and how might we get there?  What obstacles do we face?  What insights from our tradition might help guide us?  Then we considered some opportunities and promises of renewed biblical engagement. What activities might we take up, and how can we join together and learn from others?

December 7 Session Two: Engaging the Book of Faith and Asking Questions: A Biblical Conversation with Lydia and Paul

How one engages Scripture is central to both deepening our own engagement and moving that engagement outside the doors of the church.  In this session we explored different sorts of questions we might ask any biblical text through delving into the richly missional text from Acts 16:13-15.

December 8 Session Three:   Story Matters: One Proposal for Congregational Engagement
On this morning we spent time with one newly emerging proposal for congregational engagement with the Bible, Story Matters: Claiming our Biblical Identity for the Sake of the World.  This is a proposal from folks working with the Faith Practices Initiative, the Book of Faith Initiative, and Mission Development of the ELCA to help congregations discover and articulate, in a deep and biblically based conversation, their common identity and mission.  Congregations are invited to name their story, explore their story, and live into and out of their story.

December 8 Session Four:     Story Matters: A Hands-On Engagement: Discovering Our Own Biblical Story
Having been introduced to Story Matters, in this final session we tried our hand at discovering the biblical story at the heart of our own congregations.  We explored the stories of our congregations and communities and began the process of discernment about how discovering our defining biblical stories can help to create us as communities in mission.

Jan. 11-12   Gordon Straw (Program Director, Lay Missional Centers, of the Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit of the ELCA) [Photo] and Sue Eidahl from Zion - Stratford [Photo] and Angele Fairbanks from Off the Grid in Ashland [Photo]

“Place, Memory, and the Search for God.”

  • We went through an in-depth study of St. Paul’s speech to the Athenians in Acts 17:22-28a. Dr. Straw contended that this gets at a very important topic in missional theology, i.e., the importance of place and context in mission and theology.
  • We looked at biblical passages and attitudes about place and memory as they relate to mission.
  • An American Indian perspective on place, memory and covenant, in juxtaposition with a modern Western perspective on space, time and chosen-ness (manifest destiny).
  • We went through a brief overview of the importance of context in missional theology.
  • During the group discussion times, I would posit the overarching question: “What does all this mean for your place?”

Feb. 8-9  Rick Rouse (Director of the Grand Canyon Synod Missional Leadership Academy) [Photo]
Friday night we focused on missional leadership (with references to A Field Guide to the Missional Congregation) in two, one-hour sessions with conversation and on Saturday we looked at "the healing power of forgiveness" (with reference to Fire of Grace) in three, 45-minute sessions with conversation.

"Healthy Leadership for God's Missional Church"

Friday (first presentation):  "Opening the Door to God's Missional Future"
Friday (second presentation):  "Six Marks of Missional Leadership:  Managing Change and Transformation"

Saturday (first presentation): "Leading From a Grace-Filled Perspective"
Saturday (second presentation): "The Five Stages of Forgiveness"
Saturday (third presentation): "Four Steps Toward Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution"

Mar. 8-9  Craig Nessan (Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology, Wartburg Seminary) [Photo]

This course focused on key theological themes and practical directions for equipping the saints for the work of ministry, building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4 ). Worship is at the center of all congregational life. Yet many times we fail to grasp what God is seeking to make of us through the practices of worship. Jesus came to proclaim and embody the inbreaking of God’s kingdom. This selfsame kingdom is what God is making of us, the church, at worship in Word and sacrament. All “inner mission” and “outer mission” of the congregation derives from what we profess and enact at worship. This includes a comprehensive understanding of stewardship, the engagement in evangelizing, and the service of shalom for the mending of the world.

Beyond Maintenance to Mission: A Theology of the Congregation (2nd edition) [Photo]

  • God Brings the Kingdom. This session reclaimed the centrality of Jesus’ teaching and activity centered on God’s kingdom.
  • Worship: Kingdom Arriving. This session articulated a theology of worship in accordance with the things of the kingdom.
  • Stewardship: God Owns All. This session developed stewardship as a comprehensive approach to life based on gratitude and leading to generosity.
  • Evangelizing: Speaking the Kingdom. This session defined evangelizing as “speaking the faith” and introduces concrete practices for provoking a change in congregational culture.
  • Shalom: God Mending the World. This session was centered on the character of the church in its engagement in the world as mediator of God’s shalom: reconciliation, social justice, care for creation, and defending human dignity.

April 12-13  Karl Jacobson, (Assistant Professor of Religion, Augsburg College)  [Photo]  [Photo]

Religion, church and the Bible in American Popular Culture
No subject, no group of people, and no text is as widely referred to in the American popular culture (in books, music, television, film, and even comic books) as Religion and the religious.  The contemporary movement known as the missional church needs to take this reality into account in a responsible and practical manner.
The church’s role as God’s missional agency in the world must, must engage the popular culture in which most if not all of our own people, and all of those who do not yet know the grace and love of Christ Jesus, are steeped.  The perceptions, reactions, and language of the popular culture are critical parts of a biblical and missional vocabulary with which the gospel may be proclaimed to the world.  We not only explored together various representations of religion, the church, and the Bible in the popular culture, but we asked how we as Christians, as church-bearers, and as Bible-readers, might faithfully engage the world in the midst of the present dominant cultural reality.

May 10-11      Fred Nelson, Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Naomi Bruesehoff [Photo](former congregational president of Redeemer Lutheran Church) and Dick Bruesehoff [Photo] (Outreach Coordinator, Portico Benefit Services)

From Drift to Turn-around to Multisite: Some Keys to Our Renewal and Reproduction
at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, IL

The story of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, Illinois, is quite typical! Founded in the early 20th century, Redeemer was planted in a burgeoning first-ring suburb of Chicago. It experienced the glory days of the post-war years and then began a slow, steady decline until, in the late 1990s, it was facing a very uncertain future. But the story didn’t end there! We were invited you into a story of turn-around within the Park Ridge congregation and replication in the new Chicago site. But this story won’t be complete until it opens the door for each of us to ask “What is God up to in our congregation?

During the Lay School year 2013-2014, the Lay School Board chose to partner with the Evangelical Mission Commission, in order to bring the Practice Discipleship II trainers to our Synod.  We invited congregational teams to join us on Saturday morning to join us for their presentations, and on Friday evenings, we invited these faculty members to choose a topic area they are most excited about in the church and present on that topic.  29 Congregational Teams came and participated.  Saturday morning we met in the sanctuary in order to accomindate both the continuing ed student and the congregational teams.  On Saturday afternoons, the congregational teams worked with Synodical leaders to develop practical tools for local use based on these presentations.

Year One had ten new incoming students including some from our ecumenical partners.  Year two had 23 returning students.

This year's annual free resources give away was the largest by far, we gave away whole sets of commentaries and resources of all kinds related to congregational. Photo.

Our sound reinforcement equipment for continuing ed after loosing a number of audio channels was replaced with a new sound system, including speakers, amp, mixer, cables and microphones. The board and class were really pleased with the results, and this also made the quality of the pod casts for Select Learning better as well.  Photo.  The LSM Board also chose to order coffee mugs and seat cushions this year - not as money makers, we got enough to last a couple of years. Photo.

LSM 2013-14 Faculty and Dates and Friday Night Topics

September     13-14             Terri Elton                             Luther Seminary
October          11-12             Rozella White                       (program director for young adult ministry the ELCA)
November       8-9                 Colleen Windham-Hughes   California Lutheran U.
December      13-14              Susan Engh                         Director for Congregation-based Organizing for the ELCA

January          10-11              Jeremy Meyers                     Ausburg College
February         7-8                 Nate Frambach                    Wartburg Seminary
March             7-8                  Hans Wiersma                     Augsburg College
April               11-12              David Fredrickson                 Luther Seminary
May                9-10                David Fredrickson                Luther Seminary

2013-14 Friday Night Topics:

September  13            Terri Elton                             Luther Seminary      Photo

Adaptive Leadership: Leading Change
Being church in the 21st century requires leading adaptively. Adaptive leadership has its own posture.  It acknowledges that the church is in new territory, territory that is discontinuous from the past, therefore demanding discovery and new learnings in order to find our way forward. It means acquiring new skills and learn new ways of being church, as it also invites us to deconstruct some of our paradigm and unlearn habits. In this session, “Adaptive Leadership: Leading Change,” Terri Martinson Eltonl introduced participants to core elements of adaptive leadership and helped congregational leaders think about these ideas with an eye toward their own particular ministry setting.

September 14

Faith Formation in a Missional Age
The world is changing rapidly. One out of every five adults in the USA claims to have no religious affiliation. Our task of faith formation just got more difficult. The purpose of this year’s Practice Discipleship Project was to explore the realities of faith formation in this missional age. This session was an open discussion on the challenges we all face when doing ministry in this era. What are the challenges we are faced with? What is the opportunity? What are your fears and anxieties? What are your joys? We sought the collective wisdom of the group on ways we can faithfully move forward and continue to support one another in our work.

October 11           Rozella White                         ELCA Staff Young Adults

Towards a Theology of Accompaniment: Young Adult Ministry in the 21st Century
Before you ask how to get young adults in your church, how about spending some time reflecting on who they are, where young adults spend their time and why young adults are NOT in the church? Many individuals and congregations are disconnected from the cultural reality of young adults, which leads to a misunderstanding of how young adults view faith and life. We took some time to explore the sociocultural landscape and engage in theological discourse about what it means to be in authentic relationship with a segment of the population that has much to offer our congregations and our world.

October 12

Walking Together in Solidarity: A Theology of Accompaniment
The ministry of accompaniment is the sacred act of being in authentic relationship with others. The
purpose of this ministry is to allow individuals, groups and organizations to grow in love and compassion
towards each other. Accompaniment calls congregations to listen deeply to their contexts in order to
discern how best to walk alongside the community. This accompaniment provides a reciprocal
relationship of giving and serving that builds the bond between the community and the congregation.
This way of being in relationship calls the congregation to take the needs and the wisdom of its context
November 8                Colleen Windham-Hughes        California Lutheran U.     Photo

"Mash-up Mission: faithfulness across generations"
Being church sends us to connect in creative ways with our neighbors and each other. We find our way to faithfulness by putting together our emerging experience with wisdom from the ages, mashing up lyrics, rhythms, practices, and melodies that reach up, out, and in, directing human energies toward God in praise and the world in service.

November 9

In•cultur•ating the gospel

The gospel is the good news for all people, in all places, at all times. And yet the gospel must be
translated anew for each generation, made fresh for each culture. What is culture anyway? We learned how
cultural intelligence helps to equip us for the work of inculturating the gospel for God’s people in our
places and times.

December 13             Susan Engh           Director for Congregation-based Organizing for the ELCA 

"The Church in its Public Expression: A Continuum of Responses"
We explore the various ways that people and communities of faith respond to issues and opportunities in the public arena. What are the characteristics, benefits and shortcomings of each approach? How might we broaden our repertoire so that we have the greatest positive impact, and faithfully represent God's mercy and justice toward the world?

December 14

One-To-One "Relational Meetings" and Six Practical Applications
The field of community organizing offers a great tool for building or deepening relationships within our congregations as well as in the broader community. The one-to-one is a natural but uncommonconversation with someone you want to know, or know better. It’s natural because it flows from your curiosity and your conversation partner’s responses, rather than using a set of pre-determined questions. It’s uncommon because it requires intense listening and courageous inquiry as you focus primarily on going deep into your conversation partner’s story.

In this very practical workshop we learned one-to-one techniques that can be used in congregational
listening sessions, neighborhood outreach, and intentional visiting of community leaders and public officials.


January 10            Jeremy Meyers                      Augsburg College    myers@augsburg.edu     Photo

Hearing the Call to the Public Square
Swedish theologian, Gustaf Wingren said a congregation’s call is the need of the neighbor who is knocking at its door at that moment. How do we become communities of faith deeply engaged in listening to our neighbor not only as an act of service but as as our primary method of faith formation & discipleship? Saturday’s session laid out some hands-on ways of leading your congregation into the public square as a method of forming faith while serving your community. But before we jumped in, it was good to spend some time on Friday digging into the theological claims and the biblical narratives that compel us to form faith in the public square as well as theories from education and the social sciences that inform this movement.

January 11

Going Public
So, how can my church engage our community in new and meaningful ways? This session will built off
all the previous theological and theoretical sessions and offer a way forward with a handful of practices
and exercises to empower your congregation to express its faith in public ways with your youth. We’ve
figured out the service project (sort of) but now we started talking innovatively and creatively about
community asset mapping, public art, and public rituals.

February 7                  Nate Frambach                      Wartburg Seminary 

Living and Leading in Systems
On Friday evening we focused on systems thinking and some basic concepts in family systems theory to help us better understand human beings--both individually and collectively. We considered the emotional and interpersonal dynamics between persons as a way of understanding congregations as systems. The focus on systems thinking was oriented primarily to pastoral ministry and congregational leadership. Each spring, when our graduates return to Wartburg Seminary for their three year reunion, one of the questions that we ask them is: "What elements from the curriculum have been most helpful to you as a pastoral leader?" A better understanding of family systems concepts as it relates to congregations is consistently at the top of their lists. A working understanding of basic systems concepts will prove to be very useful as we serve as a leader in our congregations and communities.

February 8, 2014

Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology, Ministry, and Faith Formation
Culture: a familiar word that rolls off the tongue rather easily, perhaps casually, as though it needs no explication. How do we move beyond popular definitions to a deeper understanding of the notion of culture for today? Three assertions:
The Christian gospel and culture(s) cannot be separated;
We live within a pluriverse of cultures;
Congregations are one of those cultures.
This workshop helped participants better understand the reality of culture(s) today for the sake of faithful, truthful, and effective ministry in a missional age.

March 7               Hans Wiersma                       Augsburg College

Remembering The Wittenberg Door and More: Getting Ready for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
The 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther Posting the 95 Theses is just around the bend (on October 31, 2017, to be precise). In light of this, the Lay School of Ministry’s continuing education theme will be Luther-and-the-Reformation for the 2015-2016 year. This session provided a preview of sorts by way of offering (1) an overview of the events that kicked off the Reformation 500 years ago, (2) reasons why Lutheran congregations (especially!) should begin planning now to observe this important event, (3) guidance for how to observe this important event, and (4) resources already available to help congregations in their planning for the 2017 observation.

March 8, 2014

"When Necessary Use Words"?  Verbum Dei Theology for Right Now
By now, you've likely been admonished by some t-shirt, poster, or bumper sticker to "preach the gospel and, if necessary, use words." The slogan (inaccurately attributed to St. Francis) appears to turn the Theology of the Word on its ear. On the other hand, the slogan resonates in a culture where explicitly religious speech is met with suspicion or even outright hostility. Still, if "faith comes through hearing" and "God's Word does what it says," then should we not also be speaking up for the spoken, preached Word? Along with Scripture, we looked at past and present resources from Lutheran and other traditions to guide our investigation.

April 11-12 + May  9-10          David Fredrickson             Luther Seminary

Paul and Poetry
The self-emptying of Christ (kenosis) in Philippians 2 has long been the focus of attention by Christian theologians and interpreters of Paul's christology. Our own Dr. David Anderson, did his doctoral work on this topic! In our last two sessions of the year, Dr. Fredrickson will share with the class his ground breaking work connecting Paul’s theology with Sappho and Paulus Silentarius.  Who are they you might ask?  Sappho (of the 7th century BCE) and Paulus Silentiarius (of the 6th century CE) wrote about longing for communion. Sappho originated a number of love motifs that Paulus Silentiarius incorporates. We will be amazed to discover that Paul the Apostle utilized the poetic language of Sappho as he tried to describe the saving work of Christ! We will ask what difference poetic imagination makes for Christian theology then and now. What does it mean to be a disciple of a savior who emptied himself and took on the form of a servant?

In the last two sessions of this course, we looked at the varied NT responses to engaging the culture. Luke, John and Paul each have distinctive approaches to the way in which the Christian communities should interact with the Greco Roman world they found themselves in. The 21st century world is equally complex. We joined together in mining these different missional approaches and discovered how they challenge our basic assumptions and offered bold, new directions for engaging the world.

LSM 2014-15 Faculty - The Torah

September 12-13 Chip Bouzard - Photo Wartburg College Torah Intro & Genesis 1-11
October 10-11 Esther Menn - Photo LSTC Genesis 12 – 50: Ancestor Stories

November 7-8

Richard Swanson - Photo Augustana/SD Performing the Torah
December 12-13 Carl Heidel - Photo Northwest Synod of Wisconsin The Dead Sea Scrolls and our Understanding of the Torah
January 9-10 Diane Jacobson - Photo Luther Sem. Exodus 1-20 & the 10 Commandments
February 13-14 Kathryn Schifferdecker - Photo Luther Sem. Leviticus: Holiness Codes/Law/Land
March 13-14 Brian Jones - Photo Wartburg College Law Codes, Prophets and Peace
April 10-11 Ann Fritschel - Photo   Photo 2 Wartburg Seminary Leadership and Community in the Wilderness
May 8-9 Ralph Klein - Photo  Photo 2 LSTC Deuteronomy

In Preparation for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Sept 11-12, 2015     
Kit Kleinhans     Photo  Photo
Wartburg College 
“Reformation: Why and How? An Introduction”

There have been reform movements in the church almost from the beginning of Christianity. What happened in the early sixteenth century that led us to identify this period as THE Reformation? We examined the theological background as well as the political context that helped shape the Protestant Reformation as we know it.
Oct 9-10, 2015         
Martin Lohrmann   Photo 
Wartburg Seminary                         
“Reformers Working Together: The Collegial Side of the Lutheran Reformation”

More than just the effort of a single person, the Lutheran Reformation was the product of rich collaboration and collegiality. This presentation began with Luther’s early relationships with people like Staupitz and Spalatin to show that he had strong mentors, friends and colleagues from the beginning. We then looked at Luther’s relationships with people in Wittenberg like Melanchthon, Karlstadt, Amsdorf and Cranach to see that Luther belonged to a circle of reformers in Wittenberg. Other important reformers outside Wittenberg like Barnes, Brenz and Osiander were also be introduced, noting how they helped shape the Reformation across distances. Finally, we studied examples of collegial reform visible in works like the Saxon Visitation, the Torgau Articles, and the production of the Luther Bible.

Nov 13-14, 2015      
Wanda Deifelt     Photo
Luther College                                              
“Art and the Reformation”

Using art works from Cranach (and his workshop) we studied how key theological themes (such as interpretation of Scriptures, sacraments, priesthood of all baptized believers, and the role of a Christian in the world) are conveyed in forms other than the written word.

Dec 11-12, 2015      
Robert and Victoria Christman       Photo  Photo
Luther College          
“The Reformation and the Common Folk (Germany and the Low Countries)”

How did the common people experience the Reformation? Scholars have answered this question in two very different ways. One group argues that from the start, the Reformation was popular movement, characterized by a groundswell of support from the masses. The other group sees the Reformation as a long, slow process, ultimately imposed on the laity by the political and ecclesiastical authorities over the course of the sixteenth century. The series of lectures addressed this seeming contradiction by evaluating popular responses to the Reformation from its origins up to the turn of the seventeenth century, with a focus on Germany and the Low Countries. Topics included popular piety on the eve of the Reformation, early lay responses to the Reformation, the impact of the Peasant’s War on popular support for the Reformation, the intervention of the political authorities, and their efforts to control the beliefs and behaviors of their subjects.

Jan 8-9, 2016                       
Phil Ruge-Jones         Photo
Texas Lutheran University                         
"Luther and the Word"

At the heart of the Reformation's theological witness was the active, living, effective Word of God. We explored how Luther's understanding of the Word shaped his understanding of God's way of being in the world. We examined how this commitment was manifest in Luther's work as translator, interpreter, and proclaimer of the Word. We asked about the role of God's Word in the continuing work of reformation to which we ourselves are called.

Feb 12-13, 2016      
Darrell Jodock    Photo       
St. Olaf                                                                                   
"500 Years of Interpreting and Reinterpreting Luther."

The legacy of Martin Luther is a living tradition, always wrestling with how to connect the historical Luther and the faith community today. The basic principles of Luther’s teachings are valuable in many, many situations. But in any given context, some seem more important than others. These are emphasized, while others are neglected. When the situation changes, the emphasis also changes. Over the past 500 years the followers of Luther have found themselves in many different contexts. For example, in the late 1500s and in the 1600s Lutherans struggled to define and defend the distinctiveness of their teachings. They feared that Luther’s insights would be blotted out. The emphasis fell on the ways Lutheranism differed from other Protestants and from Roman Catholics. But, after the Thirty Years War and the demoralization that accompanied it, the emphasis shifted to cultivating individual faith and renewing hope. Protestantism had been successfully defended, even if at great cost. Denominational differences became less central. Each of these two developments produced a school of thought that has continued to play a role in church life. They were followed by others: an emphasis on reason and “progress” in the 1700s, an emphasis on historical development in the early 1800s, an emphasis on the cultural significance of Christianity in the late 1800s, and, in the early twentieth century, an emphasis on the distance between the kingdom of God and any of its embodiments. We examined these developments and what they meant for the church and then saught to assess where the emphasis should be today. What has been neglected and can be retrieved? What has been over-emphasized and can be modified? What does and does not “speak” to the problems and possibilities of today? What is the vibrant center of contemporary Lutheran thinking?

Mar 11-12, 2016     
L. DeAne Lagerquist       Photo     
St. Olaf                                               
“Global Legacy of the Reformation”

Jaroslav Pelikan observed that in Europe the effervescent era of the Reformers was followed by solidifying work of the Orthodox theologians and then by the warm, awakening of Pietism; and, in contrast, in the United States Lutheran history unfolded in the reverse order. While the movement spread through Europe in the first generation, it arrived on other continents later, often prompted by Pietist impulses. These sessions considered the spread of the Lutheran Reformation, attending to ways the tradition has traveled around the globe and how it has developed in various places including India, China, Indonesia, two or three places in Africa, and tohe Americas.  

April 8-9, 2016         
Brooks Schramm & Kirsi Stjerna   Photo  Photo
“Luther and the Jews"

The presentations developed the claim that Protestant Christians, and most especially Lutherans, have an ethical obligation to come to terms with the writings of Martin Luther on ‘the Jews and Judaism’. Reading Luther with an eye toward ‘the Jewish question’ makes clear that, far from being tangential, the Jews are rather a central, core component of his thought, and that this was the case throughout his career, not just at the end. By probing the logic of Luther’s anti-Jewish arguments, the presentations saught to ascertain how Luther’s attitudes towards the Jews shaped his interpretation of Scripture and his theology in general, as well as what problems this poses for modern readers. Attention was also given to how Luther was different from and similar to his contemporaries and predecessors in this regard.

May 13-14, 2016     
Ralph Klein     Photo
Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago   
“Rare Books, Reformation Medallions and Luther”

Dr. Klein showed us examples and samples from the LSTC Rare Books Collection and related stories and histories of different methods of celebrating earlier celebrations and commemerations of Reformation events and histories.  Wood cuts and illuminated manuscripts were shown and discussed, as were methods of translating the Bible and Luther's works.

2016-17 LSM Cont Ed Faculty/Topics
The Book of Acts

Sept 9/10 Sarah Henrich/Luther Seminary

Session One
                  "Restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6): What were they thinking?
We began where Jesus and his followers began, in a world understood through a Jewish imagination about God, God's word, God's promises, and human hopes.  Every aspect of Jesus' life and ministry was deeply rooted in Jewish thought and life.  What did Jews believe at the turn of the millennium?  How did Jesus challenge those beliefs, if he did?  What did that mean for community?

Oct 7/8 Sarah Henrich/Luther Seminary <--- Photo

Session Two
                  "The Gentiles who turn to God" (15:19):Who were these folks and what did they bring to their new communities?
                  Gentiles were everyone who was not Jewish.  The ancient Mediterranean world was predominantly Gentile--filled with varieties of beliefs, languages, customs, ethnic groups....you name it.  Most of the Mediterranean world was part of the Roman Empire which tolerated variety pretty well as long as taxes were paid and the peace kept.  What did it mean in the midst of all this variety to proclaim another king, a savior other than the emperor, and the worship of one God?   Perhaps we will find some clues for faithful living in our own pluralistic world.

Nov 11/12 David Fredrickson/Luther Seminary <--- Photo

The Two Pauls: The Book of Acts Versus the Letters of Paul

Over my years of reading the Book of Acts I have been fascinated with the way it tells the story of Paul in ways that he himself would neither have recognized nor approved. Paul is the major (human) player in Acts. He is there at the stoning of Stephen in chapter 7, and the last words of Acts 28 describe his stay in Rome. But this beginning and this ending and all that happens between fails to show up in the genuine letters of Paul.  So what are we to make of the two Pauls, and which one can enliven the church of the 21st century?

Session one dealt with the two ways Paul’s conversion was depicted (2 Corinthians 12; Acts 9; 22; 26).

Dec 9/10 David Fredrickson/Luther Seminary
Session two dealt with the meaning of religion (1 Corinthians 1-2 and Acts 17)

Jan 13/14 David Fredrickson/Luther Seminary
Session three examined attitudes toward the religion of others (1 Corinthians 8; Acts 14:8-18).

Feb 10/11 David Fredrickson/Luther Seminary
Session four looked at gender (Philippians 3-4 and Acts 16:11-15).

Mar 10/11 David Fredrickson/Luther Seminary
Session five treated Judaism (Romans 9-11; Acts 13-15).

April 7/8 Ray Pickett/Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago <--- Photo

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8): How is the Spirit at Work in the World Today?

Acts tells the story of the continuation of Jesus’ ministry through his followers who have been filled and empowered by the Spirit. Acts has sometimes been called the gospel of the Spirit because it features transformational experiences prompted by the Spirit. In this session we explored various interpretations of the work of the Spirit in Acts from a variety of cultural and theological perspectives.

May 12/13 Ray Pickett/Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

“These people who have been turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6): How do we Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus?

The story Acts begins with a small band of Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem who are impelled by the Spirit to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus throughout the Roman Empire. As the movement spreads, Jesus’ Jewish followers find themselves encountering people of different ethnicities and engaging cultural differences in ways that transform both the movement and those it embraced. In this session we explored what Acts has to say about bearing witness to the resurrection of Jesus in creative ways that allow us to be transformed by others even as we share the good news.

2017-18 LSM Cont Ed Faculty/Topic
We have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery.
Now what?

Two years ago (in 2015) the Lay School Board (LSM) began planning our continuing education theme for the 2017-18 academic year. “We Repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. What's Next?” Our synod (made up of 199 congregations) was one of the 18 synods tha passed this resolution and memorialized the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to do the same this past August (2017), which it did! It is one thing to pass a resolution. It is another thing altogether to live into it.

Our LSM board took the four resolves of this assembly resolution seriously (they call for study and engagement). They plannied an entire year of work, led by American Indian and other scholars, including time spent in American Indian nations in our synod listening to elders. Representatives of the LSM board, and members of our synod’s SWO Racial Justice Advocates, went to Chicago to meet at our church-wide office with Gordon Straw, Prairie Rose Seminole and Inez Torres Davis. Our goal was to map out what 9 sessions, 6 hours each, would look like. We wanted to hear from the three of them what should be covered and how it should be experienced. 

Here was the schedule for 2017-2018:

We also had full classes in years one and two

September 8/9 - Session 1: Doctrine of Discovery/history of colonization in the world and role of the church.

Anton Treuer

Workshop Scholar

Dr. Anton Treuer (pronounced troy-er) is Professor of Ojibwa at Bemidji State University and authour of 14 books, including Everytihng You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask.  His equity, educaton and cultural works has put him on a path of service throughout the region, country and the world.

Warm Up:  Visit the website for Why Treaties Matter: http://treatiesmatter.org/

Session 1 The Anatomy of Oppression: The Doctrine of Discovery

Before the dawn of the agricultural age, human beings harvested food and one way or another placed their resources into a
common food cache.  Societies took resources from each according to ability and distributed them according to need. But after someone started locking up the food, we got oppression in many forms—slavery, feudalism, and colonization. The Doctrine of Discovery, developed by the Catholic Church, was a codification of the enabling philosophy for oppression; and it fused oppression dynamics and Christianity. Today,  Christian faith communities have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery and begun to explore the role of Christianity in the oppresion of the indigenous peoples, with an eye on atonement, reconsiliation, and living the best tenets of their faith. Come learn about the Doctrine of Discovery, oppresion, dynamics, and lean in to the a healthy discussion about what healing really looks like.

Session 2 Supreme Law of the Land: Indian Treaties from the Revolution to Standing Rock

Native Americans are not just distinct cultural enclaves.  They are independent political identites with histories far older than the United States. What parts of the pre-contact sovereignty have remained? Which had changed?  What is a native nation? And what is the cultural tapestry in Indian country really like?   From the genesis of the American nation to the contemporary struggle at Standing Rock, let's take a deeper look at the first Americans to better understan the history of this place and inform our efforts to reconcile differences for the future generations. 

Follow Up:  Want to go deeper into Tribal Histoty and Language?  Try this.

Read Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Aftaid to Ask

Watch First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibewe Language
          Free at Twin Cities Public Television: http://www.tpt.org/?a=productions&id=3

Watch The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code

October 13/14 - Session 2: Biblical and Confessional basis from which all of these conversations flow – why this is not optional for Lutherans!

Bishop Guy Erwin

The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin was elected bishop of the Southwest California Synod in 2013. He is the first Native American to be elected bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well as the first openly gay person to serve as an ELCA bishop. Bishop Erwin is a member of the Osage Nation. After earning a PhD from Yale University, he was Lecturer in Church History in the Yale Divinity School (YDS) where he taught History of Western Christianity as well as courses on Martin Luther, the Pietists and other specialties. He taught at California Lutheran University from 2000 until his election as bishop.  Bishop Irwin related his experience as a member of the Osage Nation and how that has impacted his life.

November 10/11 - Session 3:
History of the Indian Nations of Wisconsin, Act 31, the view from a Wisconsin public school classroom & stories of real interaction with tribes –Jeff Ryan and Paul Rykken.

December 8/9 - Session 4: History of Federal Law relating to Native Americans (which of course includes Treaties), including conversation about whatever is current on this topic, like Standing Rock is now – with Gordon Straw.

“The Nations Within: The Legal Context for Ministry Within Tribal Communities”

A crucial dynamic or tension exists when non-Indian congregations ask American Indians to speak to them about American Indians. Most often, non-Indian congregations want to learn more about “Native Spirituality” and the Natives’ “love for nature.” Or, they want to witness the “quaint” cultures they have heard about, asking American Indians to bring their “costumes” (They aren’t costumes; they are regalia.) and perform. Most often, American Indians don’t want to talk about or share these things. They want to talk about the legal context of their everyday lives. They want to talk about tribal sovereignty, legal jurisdiction and legal rights vs. human rights. Many congregations believe it is unwise to talk about politics in “church.” Many American Indians believe that not talking about politics, specifically Federal Indian Law, reduces them to mere objects of mission or relics of a fictional past. American Indians and members of non-Indian congregations can have wonderful, fruitful discussions about many things, if non-Indians realize that the “legal stuff” must be discussed and understood for authentic and respectful dialogue to begin.

Why start with the “legal stuff?” It is not possible to understand American Indian cultures unless one understands the conditions within which these cultures exist. No culture exists in a vacuum. Cultures are not abstract entities; they are living, evolving organisms. They grow and die. They have no “true form” to which they can be restored. They exist in the realities of the “everyday.” One of the primary aspects of racism against American Indian tribes and people is the romantic notions non-Indians have of them. If American Indians can be seen to be mere backdrops to European manifest destiny or as romantic figures of a bygone era, then non-Indians need not acknowledge the legal commitments made to tribal nations, the genocide of whole peoples, or the material benefits currently enjoyed by non-Indians from possession of stolen lands. The current obsession with “Native Spirituality” is an extension of this racialized view of American Indians. Rather than learning from real American Indians and tribal nations how they exist today, non-Indians want to experience “quaint spiritualities of nature worship,” that never actually existed among American Indians. To be part of an authentic ministry with American Indian peoples, we must learn about and wrestle with the relationship of tribal nations to the United States federal government.

Over the two days we are together, we will address four over-arching topics related to Federal Indian Law: 1) A historical overview of the federal government-tribal nation relationship and the foundations of Federal Indian Law, 2) The evolution of tribal governments, sovereignty, and tribal jurisdiction, 3) Landmark Cases in Federal Indian Law, and 4) Federal Indian Law Issues in Wisconsin, Then and Now. Each session (day) will include an opportunity for deep discussion of the topics presented, in addition to questions of clarification and guided questions for small group reflection. Admittedly, there is way more information to be digested than there is time allotted. My hope is that we cover enough ground for you to feel comfortable continuing these discussions with others in your congregations and with tribal members in your area. As my parish pastor was fond of saying, “You don’t need to know everything before you get started in a ministry, but doing a bit of warm up beforehand is recommended.”

Kay Ressel

January 12/13, February 9/10, March 9/10 - Sessions 5, 6 and 7: White privilege/racial justice training. Kay Ressel, Pine Ridge Reservation. Kay also shared personal stories from her work at Pine Ridge and Africa.

Kelly Sherman-Conroy

Joann Conroy

In February Kay was joined by Joann Conroy and Kelly Sherman-Conroy who are Oglala Souix.  Joann and Kelly returned in May to particiapate in our closing worship.

April 13/14 - Sessions 8: A late winter snow stormed cause the cancelation of first and second year classes. Field Trips to different reservations in our synod were scheduled for continuing ed students. Better weather up north allowed 17 to meet with a tribal elder at the Red Cliff reservation.  Seven attended a meeting with an elder at LCO near Hayword.

Prairie Rose Seminole

May 11/12 - Session 9
: Review, Wrap-up and Planning for the future.  Prairie Rose Seminole.

2018-2019 Contining Ed topis was Biblican Lenses and how they affect how the Bible is read.

Faculty School Topics* Photos
Dr. Mark Allan Powell Trinity Lutheran Seminary Introduce the basic topic of "How Social Location (and Other Factors--including, apparently, genetic ones) Determine Comprehension" -- with numerous examples, mainly from the Bible.   
Dr. Mark Vitalis Hoffman United Lutheran Seminary Reading the New Testament through lens of OT and a geographical lens. Place matters.  
Dr. David Anderson Milestones Ministry Family and Household Eye Glasses – as compared to typical U.S. individualism.  
Dr. Corrine Carvalho University of St. Thomas “What Video Games and the Nones Have to Teach Us about the Old Testament.”  
Rev. Lori Ruge-Jones and Dr. Phil Ruge-Jones Synod Pastors Hearing Scripture (Orality) and Reading Through our Own Biographical story  
Dr. Diane Jacobson and Anna Marsh Professor Emeritus at Luther Seminary Food and Drink in Scripture  
Dr. Kristin Wendland Wartburg College Reading What is Hidden  
Dr. Charlene Cox Wartburg Seminary "Engaging the Living Word: The Text, Narrative Identity, and Spiritual Formation."  
Dr. Mercedes Garcia Bachmann Lutheran Church in
Global South lens; Latin American Liberation theology lens; sociopolitical reading of the Bible  

The 2018-2019 Lay School Year marked the last year that Pr. Greg Kaufmann served as the Director of Lay School. He will continue teachning, however. Rev. Dr. Phil Ruge-Jones was selected by the Board to assume this calling and he begain during this year by shadowing Pr. Kaufmann on the tasks involved. Phil also was instumental with selection of faculty for the 2019-2020 Continuing Ed school year and contacting them and scheduling.

Understanding, Renewing, and Co-creating
in God’s Good Creation

Lay School of Ministry of Northwest Synod of Wisconsin
2019-2020 Continuing Education Schedule

September 13 & 14
God is Here: Inhabiting Creation with a Room-Making God
            Mary Emily Briehl Duba, University of Dubuque - The 2019 Greg Kaufmann lecturer
            Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology, Louisville Institute Fellow
October 11 & 12
When the World was Wild and Waste & Other Creation Stories
            Pam Faro, Oral Performance Storyteller and Educator, M. Div.
            Richard Swanson, Augustana University (Sioux Falls)
               Professor of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics
November 8 & 9
Faith-Inspired Care for the Environment in the Southwest
            Glenn Schrader, The University of Arizona, Institute of the Environment
            Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
December 13 & 14
Creation: A Native American Christian Perspective
            Kelly Sherman-Conroy, Luther Seminary
            Ph.D. Student
January 10 & 11
Climate and Faith: The Science, Our Shared Values and Some Responses
            Jim Boulter, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Watershed Institute
            Associate Professor of Chemistry
February 7 & 8
A Watered Garden: Worship and Ecology
            Benjamin M. Stewart, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
            Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship

COVID-19 Forced us to cancel our last three speakers for the year.  We will be moving to Zoom meetings for Lay School until such time as we may safely meet in person again.  These speakers would have been great as well.

March 13 & 14
Practicing Joyful Stewardship
            Jim Martin-Schramm, Luther College
            Professor of Religion                                                            

April 3-4    (weekend shift to avoid Good Friday) (This class was canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic)
Eco-Reformation, Jesus and the Bible: Cultivating Hope and Healing for All
            Barbara Rossing, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
            Professor of New Testament

May 8 & 9
Resisting Structural Evil to Heal a Broken World  (This class was canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic)
            Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, California Lutheran University
            Professor of Theological and Social Ethics

2020-2021 Continuing Education Instructors and Topics

Biblical Welcome and Sojourning Saints:
Living into the 2019 ELCA Church Wide Assembly Decisions and Commemorations

Karen González

Justice, Compassion, and Truth in the Immigration Conversation

September 11 & 12

Writer, Speaker, Immigrant Advocate
Author of The God Who Sees

Javier Alanis

Immigration & the Image of Diosito/God, the Beloved: a Southwestern Perspective

October 9 & 10

Director/Associate Professor of Theology, Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest

Author of Dignity for the Foreigner: The Imago Dei from a Latino Lutheran Perspective

Richard Ward

Just Jesus or A Just Jesus: the Politics of Following Jesus

November 13 & 14

Professor of Homiletics and Worship at Phillips Theological Seminary

Author of Speaking of the Heart, and Speaking of the Holy

Aubrey Thonvold

Co-Creating a World without Outcasts, 10 Years Later

December 11 & 12

Executive Director of ReconcilingWorks

"ReconcilingWorks embodies, inspires, advocates &
organizes for the acceptance and full participation of people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, & gender expressions within the Lutheran communion..."

Mary Campbell

with the AMMPARO Team

Being a Sanctuary Denomination

January 8 & 9

Program Director of AMMPARO

"AMMPARO is a holistic, whole church commitment by the ELCA, as a church in the world,
to accompany children today and in the future."

Michael Chan

Welcoming the Stranger: Legal and Prophet Witness from the Old Testament

February 12 & 13

Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary
Author of The City on a Hill and co-author of Exploring the Bible


Rhonda Hill

Race and Faith on Living Out Liberation: Challenging Racism in the Church

March 12 & 13

Tuhina Verma Rasche

Christian Hospitality in an Inter-Religious, Authentically Diverse World

April 9 & 10

Activist, artist, (un)intended disruptor

Blogger at medium.com/@tvrasche and thislutheranlife.blogspot.com/


Julia Dinsmore

My Name is Not "Those People", It is Child of God: Abolishing Economic Injustice

May 7 & 8

Poverty abolitionist, writer, singer-songwriter

Author of My Name is Child of God

A full year of Lay School done on Zoom.  While we discovered we miss meeting together and the social aspects of being togeter in worship and the break room, we also discovered that Zoom works very well and we didn't miss winter driving, so next year will be some on site and Zoom and some strictly Zoom in the months that snow can be a travel issue.

2021-2022 Continuing Education Instructors and Topics

The Shape and Shaping of Faithfulness:
Diverse Biblical Perspectives


September 10 & 11  Jason Paul Engel, "Illuminating Faithfulness: The Saint John's Bible as Witness to the Torah and Beyond"

October 8 & 9  Leticia Guardiola-Sáenz , "The Faithfulness of Women in the Gospel of John: Crossing Borders and Building Bridges with Jesus"


November 12 & 13  Amy Lindeman Allen, "Jesus among the People:  Following Jesus through the Synoptics and Book of Acts"

December 10 & 11 ❉  Gregory Cuéllar, "Deuteronomic History and the Former Prophets in the Face of Empire"

January 7 & 8 ❉  Nathan Esala, "(Re-)translating the Voices of the Major and Minor Prophets for Life"

February 11 & 12 ❉  David Rhoads, "Life Lived in Response to Grace:  The Radical Proclamation of Justification"

March 11 & 12 ❉  Fausto Liriano, "Faithfulness in Wisdom's Way:  Poetry and Prose of Wisdom Books Slowing Us Down"

April 8 & 9  ❉ Holly Hearon, "Exploring Faith and Faithfulness in the Catholic Epistles:  Context and Conversation"

May 13 & 14 ❉ Barbara Rossing, "Faithfulness as Hope Unveiled:  Apocalyptic Literature's Vision"