Friday, February 18, 2011

On the life and death of the ELCA

An ELCA Lutheran (seminiarian I think) named Gary posted this as part of a comment on David Housholder's blog.  It's a fantastic summary of some things I've been wanting to find words to say. Thanks Gary, whoever you are! 
"I believe the Church is not called to be a prosperous organization, but to be the Body of Christ in the world. Thus, it is important for me to remember what the Body of Christ does: be born, grow, teach, heal, live with the least, speak truth about the human condition, speak truth about God, remain faithful to scripture, not engage in violence for self-protection, die, be buried, rise from the dead. As far as I can tell, being afraid that a denomination is “dying” makes little sense – but being afraid that the Church is dying makes less. If your concern is about the ELCA in particular, I must say that I believe the ELCA will find a way to live its call. But if it doesn’t, it doesn’t – and that is the way it should be. It might be important to remember that it is Christ that is to be pushed, not the ELCA (though I like to think the two can go hand-in-hand)."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trinity Lutheran College welcomes new Director of Vocational and Spiritual Formation

From: John Reed
Sent: Fri 2/4/2011 1:45 PM
Subject: Trinity welcomes new Director of Vocational and Spiritual Formation
Dear Trinity Community and college friends,

We continue to be a college on the move. As we grow, we are committed to nurturing the spiritual and vocational discernment of our students and to nurturing our chapel experiences.  Toward that end, we are pleased to welcome the Rev. Erik Samuelson as Director of Vocational and Spiritual Formation.  The part-time position will begin March 1.

Like other members of our Living-Learning Community, Pastor Samuelson will support a number of strategic initiatives, though his primary charges will be to shepherd the first-year Vocation & Formation program and to foster a high-quality chapel experience, providing a pastoral resource to students, faculty, and staff. 

The selection team included representation from faculty, staff, students, and the board.  I, too, was pleased to get to know him and his heart during this prayerful process.   I am particularly enthusiastic for his passion for ministry to young adults, his authentic commitment to a rich and compelling expression of Lutheran theology, a commitment to supporting our pan-Lutheran and ecumenical identity, his understanding of the doctrine of vocation, and his enthusiasm about the future and relevance of Trinity's educational mission.   

John W. Reed


The Rev. Erik Samuelson grew up in Everett, WA, where he graduated from Cascade High School.  He then worked his way down the West Coast, first at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, where he studied Classics and Religion (and bartending) and met his wife Tauni, a pediatric nurse.  Erik and Tauni then moved to Berkeley, CA, where Erik completed a Master of Divinity at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts in Systematic and Philosophical Theology (with an emphasis on the theology of the Lutheran Confessions) from the Graduate Theological Union. In 2006, Erik was ordained a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Most recently, Erik has been serving as pastor/mission developer at a redevelopment congregation in Spokane, WA, where he and Tauni have lived for the past 5 years with their two children, Lily (3) and Emma (5).

Erik has had an interest in experiential worship and faith development since his days at PLU, where he was part of a campus ministry team that began what would now be called an emergent worship experiment called Common Ground.  He has served on the planning team for the ELCA Youth Gathering since 2001, working with the creative team that puts on the "big events" in the dome, including worship.  (Ask him sometime about how one organizes communion for 40,000 people.)  Erik is approved as an ELCA mission developer, was a voting member at the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, is a member of the ELCA's Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission Program Committee, and is part of a network of young ELCA pastors using the methods of community organizing for new and renewed mission in the world.  He has a passion to help translate the Gospel of Jesus as understood in the Lutheran tradition to people who have not been encountered by it—particularly people aged 18-40—and to participate in authentic relational communities that are seeking to concretely embody the Way of Jesus in a life lived together in the world. He also loves to talk about Jesus in coffee shops and pubs.

Erik's prayer and worship life is shaped and nourished in major ways by the Acts of the Apostles, the TaizĂ© Community, the writings of Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the liturgy and theology of the Lutheran Church.   Erik sees the Lutheran Church (and Trinity Lutheran College) as poised to make a significant difference in the emerging reformation of the Christian Church—a reformation perhaps as significant as the one in the 16th Century.   He takes seriously the call of God in Baptism, believes that each and every person is called by God for significant work and service in the world, and loves to help people connect deeply to their vocations. Erik describes his call to ministry in this way: "I am called to encourage and challenge the Church to live more fully into God's dream by innovating in and among communities who are engaging the resources of the Christian faith to include and empower young adults."  He's excited to live out this calling in his hometown of Everett and within the community of Trinity Lutheran College.

You can find Erik on Twitter and Facebook (pubpastor) and can read his blog at