Dr. Largen speaks with The Rev. Dr. Martin Zimmann, Pastor, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mechanicsburg, PA, about the importance of talking about issues of race and culture in the church. Pastor Zimmann offers some helpful strategies for beginning the conversation.
Dr. Christianson speaks with the Rev. Glenn Ludwig, Vice President of Seminary Advancement, Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary, and author, In it for the Long Haul: Building Effective Long-term Pastorates (Alban Institute, 2011) about long term pastorates. Rev. Ludwig observes that we have changed our minds about long-term pastorates. Where once three years was thought to be a good average, we now think that one doesn’t really develop a foundation until the seventh or eighth years. He describes five pillars for building a healthy congregation and a long-term pastorate, including how to create a climate of trust.
Dr. Tom Deloe, Retired Health Researcher, Department of Health and Human Services talks to Dr. Christianson about Marijuana. With the number of states approving medical or even recreational use of marijuana increasing, several questions arise. How extensive is the use among teens and what do we know about its effects? What are the chances that teens or adults will move on to harder drugs? Has legalization reduced the prison population? Has marijuana helped cure any diseases? If not, what are the positives and negatives of medical use?
Dr. Strobert explores the nature of “friendship” in contemporary society with Pastor Fritz Foltz. Pastor Foltz discussed the changing nature of friendship from the biblical texts to the Church Fathers to the present technology of Facebook. He also shared his introduction to “professional” friendship roles in the professional sports and gambling industries.
Shirley Armstrong, Psychological Counselor and Peer Education Advisor at Gettysburg College describes the goals of The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program is for congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other Lutheran organizations. RIC recognizes Lutheran communities that publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender believers. She discusses the need for churches to make a statement on the subject, but stresses that the main objective is to get people talking with each other, not simply taking votes.
Pastor Brown discussed her week as Minister-in-Residence at Gettysburg Seminary with Dr. Strobert. She describes her conversations with students, preaching and presiding in chapel as well as attending and lecturing in seminary classes. Pastor Brown also discussed her context of parish ministry at Advent Lutheran Church in New York City. It has an immigrant population in addition to being in a gentrified neighborhood. Although a small congregation, the church is involved in broad social outreach in the community.
Dr. Christianson speaks with Dr. Bradley Hoch, Pediatrician and author of The Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania about President Lincoln’s religious evolution. Lincoln developed throughout his life, beginning as (what his neighbors called) an “infidel” and moving on to a doctrine of “necessity” before coming to terms with Providence. In 1862, probably because of the horrifying numbers of casualties and the death of his son Willie, the president began to affirm a personal deity. In the Second Inaugural he envisions a God who has purposes for humankind, although they may not be ours.
Dr. William O. Avery, Arthur O. Larson Professor Emeritus of Stewardship and Parish Ministry, Gettysburg Seminary speaks about the dramatic difference in the world of young people today, driven especially by technology, drives the question: how should the church respond? Dr. Avery suggests some interesting ideas that might help meet the needs of Millennials who are looking for dialogue, new kinds of spirituality, and above all meaning.
Dr. Christianson speaks with Ambassador Lawrence Taylor who describes the current tensions in eastern Ukraine and suggests that the U.S. and NATO were surprised by Russia’s incursions. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin was not prepared for the resistance from the new government in Ukraine. He suggests that we take seriously Russia’s claim to protect Russians everywhere and do so unilaterally, but also try to bridge the gap between the Old Europe (“Mother Russia”) and the New.