Rev. Heidi Hagstrom’s Story, TEEM ’18 Graduate

The Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) program offers alternative preparation for those who will provide pastoral ministry in emerging ministry contexts throughout the church. These contexts include ethnic specific, multicultural, rural, inner city, and ministry with deaf communities. Candidates for the TEEM program are nominated by their synods and approved by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Heidi Hagstrom, a 2018 TEEM graduate, first learned about Wartburg’s TEEM program in 2016, “I have never not felt called to ministry… I have always been a passionate advocate for lay ministry, but when I learned about the TEEM program the Spirit spoke to me. The time was right for me to think about a new way of serving Christ’s church and, after 18 years in Chicago, I wanted to be closer to my family and closer to the earth. My soul feels most at home in a rural environment, and when I learned there was a need for pastors in rural settings it just seemed like the right time. My whole life people had been telling me I should be a pastor. I guess it just took a long time for me to be prepared to accept that call.”

Immediately before entering into the TEEM program, Heidi served as the Director for the ELCA Youth Gathering. It was here that Heidi met Wartburg professor, Dr. Kristine Stache: “she explained Wartburg’s commitment to the TEEM program as a respectable alternative path to the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Kris invited me to dip my toe in and take the summer intensive course “Introduction to Lutheran Worship.” I loved the class and I loved being part of the summer community at Wartburg. Prior to coming, I was nervous about performing well academically. In college I was an average student and I had been away from it for many years. But, Kris encouraged me to give it a try. I left that week feeling affirmed, and like Wartburg was the right fit for me.”

Candidates accepted into the TEEM program will prepare to meet the opportunities for ministry in the 21st century in emerging ministries, or ministry settings that are without ordained pastoral leadership. Heidi says, “Emerging ministry in my context is about creating space for something new to emerge out of deeply held practices that are intertwined with a sense of family and cultural traditions rather than Lutheran theological principles. For my parish that means discerning what God is up to and figuring out how we are called to be part of that. When we can create space for an awareness of the presence and action of God we will slowly experience a shift of consciousness in the way we do church.”

Wartburg learning is collaborative. TEEM students are engaged with their classmates, mentors, supervisors, faculty, synod staff, and others. Heidi shares, “While I deeply loved the faculty and the learning, I think the best part of TEEM was the cohort with whom I made the journey. Many of us have stayed in touch via social media, and because there are several of us in the SW MN Synod, we see each other often. We are able to share ministry challenges and joys, which brings our learning to life.”

The TEEM program is designed to provide support, collaboration, and service to current and future church servant leaders. Heidi reflects, “Working through fears and moving to “the other side” is a central theme in my life and ministry, and in the gospel text I chose for my ordination service, Mark 4:35-41…Christ is the peace, and the strength, and the calm that we draw on…We need to continually seek that inner calm—that courage—because Jesus will keep calling us to go to that other shore.”