One of the great joys I feel in the call to rostered ministry is the expectation that we work to create community among Christians and neighbors.
In the gospel stories of Jesus, we hear of the ways in which Christ’s ministry focused on gathering people together for teaching, meals, and healing. In the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul, we hear of the many ways that the early followers of Jesus built communities and the struggles these early communities faced. These communities were not always permanent structures – sometimes a community gathered once for a meal and left transformed. These communities often were separated geographically, but connected through Christ.
Although Proclaim Seminarians are scattered around the country and Canada, we are connected in community through Christ, too. This time of year many of our students are returning back to their communities on campus. As leaders on campus, the members of the Proclaim Seminarian Team (PST) are immediately involved in the work of creating connections with new people in the community as well as re-connecting with people returning to campus.
PST members had a robust and active presence in the orientations at each of our 8 Lutheran seminaries and at a couple ecumenical divinity schools with Proclaim students. Many new students had never heard of Proclaim before and this was the first time they had been connected with other LGBTQ seminarians – what a gift to know that as you follow this exciting and sometimes scary call as an LGBTQ person that you are not alone!
Kristian Kohler, who represents Lutheran students at non-Lutheran seminaries on the PST and attends Yale Divinity School, hosted a Proclaim table during Yale Divinity’s School’s Orientation. Kristian connected with a couple of students on exchange at Yale from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. These two students come from theologically conservative dioceses in the UK and were surprised, but excited to hear about the work of Proclaim and ELM. They even took Proclaim and ELM brochures so they could learn more about the work of ELM and use the resources we provide for pastors and congregations on our website!
Beyond orientation, our representatives are planning ways to connect and build community throughout the first semester. Dug Swank, a first-year student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and the PST representative for LTSP, plans to organize a social for Proclaim members at LTSP as well as Proclaim members who live and work in the Philadelphia area. For students who attend seminaries in areas where many Proclaim members live, a gathering like this is a great opportunity to expand their community outside of the seminary. This community can provide encouragement, mentoring, and professional connections for students as they move through seminary and internship.
The PST will also build community beyond campus this semester – hosting video and phone chats, sending care packages and notes to members on internship or being assigned for first call, and praying for members of the group each month. Like many of the early Christian communities, this group of seminarians is geographically scattered, but through Proclaim we will support and care for each other, and stay connected through Christ.
Peter Carlson Schattauer received his Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School last May and serves as the pastoral intern at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Seattle. He is busy learning about his new home in Seattle, both the natural beauty and ways in which the housing crisis is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable Seattleites. If you email him and he doesn’t respond, you should assume that he’s watching a show imported from the BBC or listening to the Indigo Girls.