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Rev. Barbara Lundblad

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • she/her/hers

Ministry setting

I served as pastor of Our Saviour's Atonement for a little over 16 years. In 1997 I joined the faculty at Union Theological Seminary in New York as the Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching. In addition to teaching I served on the clergy team at Advent Lutheran Church, a wonderful faith community at 93rd and Broadway. I retired in 2015, but then spent spring semester as a visiting professor of Homeletics at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

What brings you joy in your ministry?

Preaching has always brought me joy -- the deep engagement with biblical texts and the connection with the congregation. I never tire of this creative, life-giving work. My students at Union bring me joy -- they're wildly diverse, unafraid to ask questions, open to discoveries beyond their traditions, and many of them are very gifted preachers. I also have wonderful colleagues on the faculty.

Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?

Past teachers: Letty Russell, Joan Forsberg, Margaret Farley, Henri Nouwen, Luke Johnson (all at Yale Divinity School). Other mentors include Joseph Sittler, Krister Stendahl, Beverly Harrison, Elizabeth Bettenhausen, John Vannorsdall, Herb Chilstrom and Fred Craddock. At this time in my life I'm inspired by my colleague and friend Janet Walton who teaches worship at Union; Marion Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund; Barbara Brown Taylor, friend, poetic preacher and writer; and others I'm forgetting at the moment. I have also been inspired over and over by LGBTQ heroes who paved the way for me in the Lutheran church: Anita Hill, Emily Eastwood, Bradley Schmeling, Jane Ralph, Joel Workin, Jeff Johnson, Jim Lancaster, Cindy Witt, John Ballew, and lots of people who should be added to this list! I continue to be supported, sustained and inspired by "The Women," a clergy women's support group that I've been part of since 1983: Gladys Moore, Janet Peterman and Mary Forell have kept me going through many ups and downs.

What are your interests outside of ministry?

I love days Nicole and I spend in Maine: hiking, kayaking, eating lobster, reading, exploring new places, and this summer for the first time, walking our dog Tribe. New York City is constantly fascinating: I love going to theater, listening to music in concert halls or on the subway platforms, walking along the river in Riverside Park, and reveling in the wild diversity of this city.

Best meal you've ever eaten?

This is hard because I love to eat. Haddock and lobster in Maine. Penne Pisticci at a local Italian restaurant up the street from where I live. And my mother's roast with potatoes and carrots.

Brief bio

I grew up on a farm near the small town of Gowrie, Iowa - and the Iowa soil is still in my heart. Zion Lutheran Church was my home congregation, a very special place. I received a BA in English at Augustana College in Rock Island, another special place. From there I went to the Twin Cities where I served as Youth Director at two different parishes -- Gloria Dei in St Paul and Transfiguration in Bloomington. After 10 years working with youth, I traveled east to Yale Divinity School where I received my MDiv degree in 1979. I was ordained at Zion Lutheran in 1980. My first call was a dual call to Our Saviour's Atonement Lutheran Church in upper Manhattan and to Lutheran Ministries in Higher Education. The campus ministry part of my call was to Lehman College in the Bronx, later to New York University in Greenwich Village. During these years I was active in LCA and later ELCA boards, committees, and protests! In the same year as the Constituting Convention of the ELCA (1987), I met Nicole Johnson and we have been together ever since. We were legally married in Connecticut in March, 2011, and celebrated our vows in New York City in June. Our son Sam is now 22 years old and a student at Hunter College in NYC.

Did you always want to be clergy?

No I didn't imagine that it was possible for women to be pastors. I didn't even think about it. I lived in Minneapolis when the LCA voted to ordain women in 1970 and the whole decision passed me by without celebrating! Even when I went off to seminary I wasn't sure I was called to be ordained. It was during those years at YDS that I felt the call to ordination in clearer ways. The presence of ordained women such as Joan Forsberg and Letty Russell was very important in my decision. I also became clearer that being a pastor brought together many of my gifts and passions. It was the realization Frederick Buechner describes when he says: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

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