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Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. My vocation centers on the ministry of the gospel. I’ve been called by the church to that ministry and over the years it has taken various forms. For a number of years I lived out my calling in parish ministry. There were the regular pastoral responsibilities of preaching, administering the sacraments, teaching and community formation.

Later that shifted to a calling into the specialized ministry of seminary teaching. As a teacher of New Testament, I’ve focused on equipping the students who will be leaders in the ministry of the gospel in our congregations. For several years I’ve also been academic dean, involving oversight of educational programs and the faculty and staff who make them

possible. Supporting their vocations is my vocation, and it’s for the sake of the church’s witness and service.

Esther Menn, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Alicia Vargas, Pacifi c Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif.

Mary Sue Dreier, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C.

Sometimes the vocation of a dean fi nds expression through the most ordinary of things. Writing a letter from the dean’s offi ce, for example, is so routine that it may not seem worthy of note. Yet it’s often in such simple matters that a dean’s dedication to the faculty, students and entire institution becomes evident.

A well-written letter has the power to communicate a diffi cult decision clearly and diplomatically, to argue for a strategic course of action, or to recognize and honor individuals for work well done. Such a letter takes thought, research and even consultation to get everything right. All this eff ort is behind the scenes, and the letter itself soon ends up in some fi le or trash can. Still there is a quiet satisfaction when the practical kind of work that one does as a dean proves eff ective in furthering the seminary’s mission.

I see my vocation fi rst and foremost as a baptized child of God. God calls me to be precisely that, a child of God in all relationships and responsibilities of my life. I’m privileged to be able to exercise that vocation as a spouse, parent, grandparent, friend, citizen, community partner, ordained minister, professor and academic dean. I recognize this to be a privilege in the positive aspects of that word. Many are blocked from exercising their vocation as God’s children in areas denied them because of socio-economic and systemic reasons beyond their control. The negative eff ects on those who are “underprivileged” bid those of us who can choose our vocations to examine our privileged status. A prime expression of my vocation as professor and academic dean is to foster inquiry into vocational areas from which many fi nd themselves prohibited.

The image of a midwife shapes my understanding of being interim dean this year. Midwives facilitate the natural birth process by lending a hand as God brings new life into the world. As midwife dean, I attend to colleagues as they give birth to practices, pedagogies and programs that form and transform theological education. I attend to students as they give birth to imagination, insight and expertise for leading a 21st-century church that is becoming a new creation.

This is one expression of the radically free vocation of all Christians who, as Martin Luther invites, do not serve the neighbor in search of gratitude, praise or gain but out of love and joy in Christ.


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