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LifeLong Learners Events

Contact Dr. Gwen Sayler, Director of LifeLong Learning at 563-589-0302 or

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Luther Academy of the Rockies
2015 Information and Registration Coming Soon
Meeker Park Lodge   
Allenspark, CO

Wartburg Theological Seminary invites YOU to join with us for 10 days of learning, recreation, and renewal for ministry at our annual LUTHER ACADEMY OF THE ROCKIES. The theme of this year's Academy "The Holy Spirit at Work:  The Church in Joy, Lament, and Mission."  Speakers leading participants through these discussions in morning sessions include: Dr. Troy Troftgruben, Dr. Cheryl Peterson, and Dr. Kathleen Billman. Afternoons will be free time for participants to enjoy the many recreational opportunities awaiting them in the beautiful Estes Park area.  Evenings will be filled with optional social and/or educational activities for individuals and families. 

In keeping with Wartburg Theological Seminary's emphasis on daily worship, each day begins with opening devotions.  In addition to educational programs for the adults, age-appropriate daily programs are provided for children and teens (age 4 - 19), as well as childcare for children 3 and under. 

LAR adults hiking

Come join us for 10 days in the beautiful Rockies with renowned speakers sharing their wisdom at an incredibly reasonable price!  This opportunity is too great to miss!! 




This Year's Faculty


Tex Sample"The Spirit at Work in Church and Mission: Revisiting the Book of Acts Together"

Throughout our earliest writing about the church (the Acts of the Apostles), the Holy Spirit plays a critical role. Although the narrative recounts dynamic movements of ministry, mission, and witness, they are hardly sparked by human ingenuity. In Luke’s story it is God through the Holy Spirit who initiates, empowers, and drives the new community into places they would not otherwise go, and movements they had not considered. Together we will revisit portions of this fascinating narrative to see distinctive directions of the Spirit's work among the earliest Christian communities: (1) to fulfill and carry on God's historic purposes, (2) to empower believers to bear witness, and (3) to initiate new movements of ministry. As a whole, Luke's narrative raises the question whether believers will resist or be in tune with the Spirit's initiative—a question no less real for us today. Throughout these lectures, we will consider together how the Spirit has been active among church communities both in the first century (in Acts) and in today's complex and ever-changing world. In turn, we will reflect on what it means for us—as the church and as Lutherans—to be a "Pentecost people" faithfully engaged in God’s initiatives of ministry today.

A native of northeastern North Dakota, Troy has served at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, since Fall of 2013. By vocation Troy sees himself as a pastor, only called to serve through teaching and service to the ELCA through Wartburg Seminary. Prior to teaching at Wartburg, Troy served for five years as a pastor at Calvary Lutheran church (E.L.C.A.) in Grand Forks, ND, and as an adjunct instructor of Religion at the University of North Dakota. He completed his M.Div. at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, and his Ph.D. at Princeton Seminary focusing on the Book of Acts, narrative endings, and general New Testament studies.  Troy is married to Maria, his wife of 10 years. She is a preschool teacher by education who currently works full-time as a mother. They have two children, Timothy (6) and Teresa (3), who are also in attendance at this event. Timothy loves being outside and doing anything physical, while Teresa has a passion for reading books that rivals Troy's. On Sabbath time, Troy enjoys riding his Trek road bike (and pretending he's fast), indulging in God’s creation and in great coffee, and practicing the discipline of hope by following Minnesota sports teams and the Chicago Cubs.


Tex Sample"The Holy Spirit as the Giver of Life in the Church and World Today"

The declining numbers in many mainline Protestant denominations is the cause of both much anxiety and many solutions, most of which call the church to "do" something different (become more marketable, more relevant, etc.). Nearly all of them, however, presume a sociological concept of the church, that of "voluntary association." The solution, then, cannot lie in simply "doing" something different; the crisis goes much deeper. The real crisis is one of ecclesial identity: the church has forgotten who it is.

In these lectures, Dr. Cheryl Peterson will explore the theological identity of the church in light of the changing mission field in North America, especially in light of the rising number of "Nones" and those who are "spiritual but not religious." She will briefly discuss various theological starting points for ecclesiology today (Word, Trinitarian communion, and missio Dei) and outline her proposal for an ecclesiology that "starts with the Spirit," drawing on the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles and also the ecumenical creeds.  She will also explore what it means to affirm the Holy Spirit as the giver of life both in terms of a traditional Lutheran understanding of the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, and in dialogue with other perspectives, such as charismatic and Pentecostal. Finally, she wants to explore where the Spirit seems to be at work in and outside of the church bringing new life and transformation.

The Rev. Dr. Cheryl Peterson is associate professor of systematic theology at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.  She received the Ph.D. in theology from Marquette University, Milwaukee in 2004 and the M.Div. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1991. A native Ohioan, she grew up in Worthington and attended Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, receiving the B.A. in 1986.  Before joining Trinity's faculty in 2005, she served as co-pastor with her husband, the Rev. Dr. Charles Peterson, of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (2000-2005) and as pastor of First English Lutheran Church in Tyrone, Pennsylvania (1991-1997). Before attending seminary, she worked in the Ohio Governor's Office as a staff writer (1986-1987). She is the author of Who is the Church? An Ecclesiology for the Twenty-First Century (Fortress Press, 2013) and numerous articles and books chapters, including "Spirit and Body: A Feminist and Lutheran Conversation" in Transformative Lutheran Theologies: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Perspectives, ed. Mary Streufert (Fortress Press, 2010). She served on Round XI of the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue, "The Hope of Eternal Life." Her current research focuses on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life. She enjoys talking about ministry and theology over coffee, traveling, reading, weight training, racquetball, folk/old timey music, watching Ohio State football and Marquette basketball, and playing with her dogs.


Tex Sample"Holy Spirit, Holy Spaces, Holy Friendships"

In his most recent book, Eschatology and Space: The Lost Dimension in Theology Past and Present, Lutheran theologian Vítor Westhelle makes a compelling case that the eschaton is not confined to "last things" and should not be limited to theological investigations about time, but is something that occurs in space, or what he calls the "space between spaces" where people dwell adjacent to both a familiar world and a new world; a space in which the close association between despair and hope, beauty and terror, life and death, is revealed.  There are many witnesses to the Holy Spirit’s movement in just such places of danger and possibility.

One powerful witness to the power of the Spirit’s presence in the "space between spaces" comes from Christian theologians, ethicists, and caregivers who are making a compelling case for the church to recover ancient practices of ars moriendi (the Christian art of dying) and reform them for a new historical era.  Through sharing art, songs, stories, changing theological conceptions of human personhood, and inspiring congregational practices,  my presentations will invite us to consider how a contemporary ars moriendi may, paradoxically, offer faith communities a powerful opportunity to experience the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

Kathleen D. (Kadi) Billman is the John H. Tietjen Professor of Pastoral Ministry: Pastoral Theology and Director of the Master of Divinity Program at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Joining the seminary faculty in 1992, Billman was named dean of the seminary in 1999, the first woman to serve in that position.  She served as LSTC’s dean and vice president of academic affairs through June 30, 2009, when she returned to full-time teaching.  She began serving as Director of the Master of Divinity Program in July 2012.  Billman grew up in a farming village in Ohio, deeply influenced by both the Lutheran piety of her father’s family and the Methodist piety of her mother’s family.  She earned the B.A. degree from Muskingum College and M.Div. degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.  Following seminary graduation and ordination (Billman is an ordained elder in the Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church), Billman served as the pastor of an urban congregation in Trenton, New Jersey for eight years before returning to Princeton to complete the Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees.  While completing the Ph.D. degree Billman served on the staff of another urban congregation in Trenton until her election to the LSTC faculty.  Her passion for urban ministry contributed to her joy to be called to Chicago to engage in teaching and learning at LSTC.  Her teaching areas include pastoral care, pastoral theology, and congregational leadership, and she also greatly enjoys serving as Director of the Master of Divinity Program.  With wide-ranging interests in the disciplines of pastoral care and pastoral leadership, her particular scholarly passions include research and writing on death, dying, and bereavement; the Psalms and the life of faith; and cultural/theological investigations of narrative therapy.  She is the author of several articles and book chapters and is co-author of Rachel’s Cry: Prayer of Lament and Rebirth of Hope and co-editor of C(H)AOS Theory: Reflections of Chief Academic Officers in Theological Education.



Director: Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dr. Gwen Sayler, Director of LifeLong Learners
Dean: Dr. Frank Benz, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Wartburg Theological Seminary
Co-Coordinators: Rev. Kristi and Rev. Scott Beebe

Morning lectures, designed for adults, feature theologians from diverse backgrounds and create an academic atmosphere.  25 Contact Hours or 2.5 Continuing Education Units are available. 

LAR groupA Biblically-based morning program for children and teens (ages 4-19) while adults are in lectures, provides an exciting team building experience, incorporating music, crafts, recreation and environmental awareness. Child care is provided for children ages 3 and under. Children and teens are welcome at all evening programs and events. Teens should come prepared to spend $40 - $45 for horseback riding or other activities during one of the morning sessions.

LAR hikingAfternoons are free for hiking, sightseeing, picture taking, horseback riding, or just quietly enjoying the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Nearby Estes Park offers golfing, shopping, swimming, and other diversions. Evenings bring many surprises! There may be additional lectures, music, square dancing, potlucks, talent night, or other group participation events.

LARkidsSetting & Housing
Home to the Academy for the past 45 years, Meeker Lodge's natural setting lends itself well to outdoor recreation and relaxation, as well as to spiritual and intellectual renewal.  Housing options for the Academy include: Meeker Park Lodge; housekeeping cabins; or nearby camping facilities. For more information, please visit the Meeker Park Lodge website:

Meeker Park Lodge, an old time, rustic, mountain lodge contains a limited number of sleeping rooms, up a short, but winding staircase, each with a bed(s), desk, dresser, and closet.  Lodge room guests share a central bath and shower.  No cooking facilities are available in the lodge, but guests are welcome to take advantage of the stone fireplace, piano, small library and seating area on the main floor.  Meals (breakfast and lunch) are available for purchase in the Lodge.  Lodge room guests, faculty, and staff generally take advantage of these meals, but they are available for others as well (as space is available).  There are also restaurants several miles down the road. five

Cabins, both on and off Meeker Park grounds, can sleep up to 9 people and are fully equipped with kitchens with basic cooking utensils, bedding, linens, and bathrooms. Camping sites are available at Olive Ridge Campground, maintained by the National Forest Service, as well as in the Estes Park area. A primitive campsite is available one mile north of Meeker Park Lodge. For more information regarding camping facilities, please contact the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce.


Are you considering attending Luther Academy of the Rockies for the first time? Hurry and secure your spot now!

Registration Fees  








 $100 each



 Housing Deposit








Cabin Housing Costs



Total Cost


$ 75.00 /
$ 37.50

$ 750.00


$ 33.00

$ 985.00


$ 28.75

$ 1150.00


$ 25.30

$ 1265.00

6 or more

$ 23.00

$ 1380.00

Lodge Room Costs (limited availability)

No kitchen facilities available for cooking in lodge rooms



Total Cost

Room with Central Bath


$ 28.00

$ 280.00


$ 15.75

$ 315.00








Registration is Now Open


There will be a $50 processing fee for all cancellations. if the cancellation is received less than 21 days before the opening of the Academy, we cannot guarantee that the housing deposit will be fully refunded. Extended family (e.g., adult children, grandparents) staying for part or all of the Academy must pay housing for the full 10 days. If extended family members will be participating in the program of the LAR, they will also ned to pay the registration fee. Generally, no part-time registration is possible. There is no housing charge for children ages 2 and under. A limited number of cribs are available for $15 each. Please indicate any need for a crib on the housing request. Pets are not allowed.

If there is any change in your housing request, please notify us no later than May 15th, 2014 Participants will be notified of their housing assignment in early June.

There are now two ways to register!
You may both register and pay online!

1. Complete the registration form online  and pay online.

2. Download and complete the printable registration form and mail with payment to Wartburg Theological Seminary.

LAR FoundersHistory
Modeled after similar continuing education events for pastors and spouses in Germany, Dr. J. Michael Reu designed and directed the first academy  in 1937 at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA. It was the first Lutheran continuing education event in this country, with an original registration fee of $5.00 for the 10 days. The academy remained an annual event in Dubuque for the next 31 years, with a brief respite during World War II. Before it was moved to Colorado in 1969, Dr.William Streng, Professor of Christian Education at Wartburg, expanded the format of the academy to include pastors, spouses, and families in a setting that focused on a blend of theological education and relaxation. Today the Luther Academy of the Rockies may be the only LifeLong Learners event in the country that includes education for the entire family.


Contact Jill Kruse, Communication Specialist, at 563-589-0327 or 



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