Tag Archives: Leadership

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Paula Carlson Elected President of Luther College

Dr. Paula Carlson has just been elected President of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Her husband, Dr. Thomas Schattauer, is Professor of Liturgics and Dean of the Chapel at Wartburg Seminary. Thomas and Paula have long been a part of Wartburg.  Paula will assume the office of president July 1. She is currently in her 6th year serving as Vice President of Mission at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Previously she was Associate Dean and then Director of the Wendt Center at the University of Dubuque.

Paula is a graduate of St. Olaf College. She earned her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York City. She has taught in many positions at various institutions through the years.

Karen Bloomquist Begins Her Leadership of PLTS

The Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist is the new dean and Chief Administrative Officer of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, having begun January 1.  She replaces Rev. Dr. Phyllis Anderson who was president of PLTS and is a Wartburg Seminary graduate. Karen taught Ethics at Wartburg Seminary before spending 11 years as the director of the department for theology and studies at the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland.  She served in a similar position for the ELCA before and while teaching at Wartburg.

Karen is a graduate of St. Olaf College, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and earned her doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

BUT WORDS THEY CAN DESTROY by Carter Hill, 2nd Year MDiv

One of the greatest fallacies children learn is the phrase: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yes, at any time within our lives sticks and stones may break our bones, but the truth is that at some point, without any doubt, words will hurt us — if not destroy us.

The power of human words can be a blessing in our lives, but also they carry the great ability to cause massive destruction. We as adults must be aware of this ability to cause wounds from words, and also the many issues that can arise from each of our word choices.  The words of church leaders are particularly given weight and authority. A few careless words can rip away the beliefs of a person.

We may think  we are being understanding and accepting of all people, all races, all religions, all genders, and sexual orientations, but through our word choices we sometimes do quite the opposite of what we intend. Unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) we may create a condemning God through our language.

Simple words can cause great pain, and we as people often use these simple words to make people feel less about themselves. We must take a stand to be sure that our words and language are used to include all people. Our words can in fact make someone feel as though they are separated from the love of God when God always intends to include us all in Christ Jesus.

A young man from North Dakota a few years ago came out to his family as gay.  After the initial shock they asked him to go speak with his Lutheran pastor. The young man told his pastor whose actions and words would be something that would haunt this young man for years. He was told that he would no longer be welcome by many members of the congregation and his homosexuality would cause a great stir among the people.  The pastor thought it would be best to ask this young Christian man to leave the congregation he had always called home. Following these harsh actions and words, the title of Christian was no longer something this man associated himself with because his pastor created a condemning and unwelcoming God for him. In a few short sentences, this man was ripped of his entire beliefs of the loving and accepting God he had always known, simply because of the words his pastor spoke.

“Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words, they can destroy.”

We are the speakers of a loving God, a God who calls us to ministry to be faithful servants of God’s message, and servants of a God who gathers us around a table of bread and wine to taste and see that through the cross we are forgiven and equal. In this equality we are continually uplifted and reminded that we are beautiful children of a loving, peaceful, and accepting God, whose words build up rather than destroy.

TO PROTEST BY PERSISTING IN REMAINING by Paul Andrew Johnson, 2nd year M.Div.

This article has remained unwritten for far too long. Despite encouragement from classmates, there always seemed to be something else more important to do. I realize now how foolish that was. I do not want it to sound like I am such an insightful person, or that when I speak, everyone should listen—far from it.  It is the message, not the messenger, that needs to be heard.

I am an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.  I cherish this title and am proud of what that represents.  I am also a homosexual. Same thing goes. But most of all, I am a child of God, and that alone makes me special. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have decided to uphold a policy which suggests that, because I publicly identify as gay, I am unfit to be a leader in this organization.

In recent months this has gained much media attention from both sides of the issue, both for and against homosexuals in scouting. One particular group, which seems to be growing ever-larger, is the group of Eagle Scouts who have turned in their badges to the BSA in protest of their stance. I definitely support these individuals in their personal decisions and am encouraged by their public statements in protest. But I will NOT be turning in my badge, and I hope they can respect that as well.

I do not want anyone to think this is because I believe the BSA’s current stance is correct, nor that I disagree with those who have made the decision to protest by turning in their badges.  Above all, I certainly hope no one thinks this stance is because I am not passionate about the Boy Scouts or do not care about the issue—quite the opposite.

My decision is both to recognize that I, a child of God who happens to be gay, have rightfully earned the rank of Eagle. It honors all those who have been denied this honor because of their orientation. Even more, I hold on to my medal because I wish also to honor all those who earned this rank before and after me. Turning in my badge would, for me personally, disregard all those who worked so hard to earn this rank. I wish rather to honor those individuals, who include, among others, my brother, cousin, friends and role-models.

I anticipate a day when I may once again proudly don that scouting uniform, hold my right hand up proudly in the scout sign and join my voice with all the others in saying “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent,” and “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Until then, I will stand not only with those who protest the exclusion of homosexuals, but also with all those who still believe in and are proud of this organization and its scouts.

ICELANDIC WOMEN TALK ABOUT THEIR MINISTRY by Tammy Barthels, M.Div. Middler

Three women pastors from Iceland were part of a group of 14 (12 pastors and 2 spouses) on Wartburg’s campus this past week for the Center for Global Theologies Icelandic Pastors Academy. They led and participated in many presentations. Midweek, Rev. Halldóra Þorvarðardóttir, Rev. Hulda Hrönn M. Helgadóttir, and Rev. Jóhanna Sigmarsdóttir led a lunch-time discussion on women in ministry, saying that women were always a part of the history of the church.

Hulda shared some background saying that many women were mentioned in the early letters of the church. She told a story of visiting a very old church building where many images were of women: angels depicted as women; Mary the Mother of Jesus; and female leaders of the church. Women held positions of prominence before the Church of Rome was built and a patriarchal influence became the norm. When did women vanish from the forefront of the church? This is uncertain; however in 1974 women started to return to leadership in Iceland and the first woman was ordained.

How have women’s roles changed in the church of Iceland? Today there are sixty women pastors in Iceland; approximately 40% of the pastors of the Lutheran Church in Iceland are women. Iceland has recently ordained their first woman bishop, Reverand Agnes Sigurðardóttir.

There was not a theological argument against women belonging in the church, but it was difficult because it was a male dominated field, said the Icelandic women. However, women saw it as natural to want to become ordained priests.
Halldora, a Dean of the Church of Iceland advised: “Be who you are. Don’t think about being a man or a woman, but be yourself. She said it is good to have women in leadership. It does however change the cooperative leadership. Women are not afraid to admit that they don’t know everything. Men don’t show their vulnerability; they need to look strong and can’t look fragile or they will appear weak. Men think of their roles differently.”

At the lunch meeting many men as well as women participated in the discussion. Both the women and men from Iceland agreed that there has been a change in the last decade. Women are now senior pastors and with a woman as Bishop, things will continue to change. They said, “This is the first time in history that we heard the Bishop talk about the weaknesses of a Bishop, maybe because she doesn’t have a ‘power struggle.’ There is no history behind her.” It is too early to judge if this will change the church of Iceland; however they are on a new path.

Where was the turning point for women in Iceland? They all agreed it came with the first women president of the country, elected in 1980. June 19th was designated as Women’s Day with women gathering in the streets to support women’s equality.

Halldora lifted up that equality is for both genders not just the women. “We need to remember that this is not about women taking over, but sharing in the roles of leadership. Equality will become a non-issue when we do not have to think, talk or do anything about it. Respect is the beginning of equality.”

“WOMEN, WAR, AND PEACE,” A REVIEW by Jenn Collins, M.Div. Senior

Women, War & Peace” is a bold new five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain.”

Eight women gathered at Wartburg Seminary for a four-week module led by Professor Norma Cook Everist called, Gender, Power, and Leadership.  None of us knew what a profound impact it would have on us.  We reflected on our womanhood and our call to ministry as women.

We also spent time listening to the stories of women from around the globe whose courageous voices were raised toward justice in the midst of war and strife.  These voices came to us through the five-part PBS series, Women, War, and Peace. (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace).

From Bosnia to Liberia, Afro-Columbia to Afghanistan, women speak of harsh injustices inflicted not only on other women, but also on all people as a consequence of war.  While we face brokenness in our own ways, we who are not at war do not face these atrocities.  The women of Bosnia and Liberia have been raped as a strategy for war.  The women of Columbia have been taken advantage of and silenced as their families’ homes have been taken away at the expense of greed.  The women of Afghanistan have endured death after death as their loved ones are thrown into the fight.

The documentary series, while naming harsh realities faced by women, also testifies to the heroic acts of women like Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, women who were judges at the war court that tried the men who organized strategic rape, and the list continues…

This captivating series, produced by Gini Reticker is beautifully filmed and edited.  The full five episodes can be found on-line and could be used by congregations as a five-part study on women and war, or could be watched independently. 

 This 5-part video series is available in the Wartburg Seminary Library collection.