Meet a Valued Leader


Jump to: [Joel Baranko], [Sean Bunger], [Sandi Decker], [Mark Lepper], [Ryan Lun], [Suzi Orlopp],[Winston Persaud], [Tobi Reinert], [Saliba Rishmwawi], [GwenSayler]


LizAlbertson.jpgElizabeth Albertson

DEGREE PROGRAM: M.Div.
CURRENT YEAR:   Senior
AGE:  28
FAMILY:  Single
HOMETOWN:  Oelwein, IA 

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?
The Holy Spirit who roots our identity in Jesus Christ calls and forms valued leaders.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?     
Wartburg is a place where I continue to learn, grow and form lifelong habits and core values as a leader in the Church.  I feel that the Wartburg takes seriously the formation of each person and challenges us to think critically and holistically about being leaders who contribute to the Church and its work in the world

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
Wartburg’s community and justice emphasis as well as the Wilhelm Loehe scholarship helped me to choose Wartburg.  I feel like I was called to study and be here.

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS AFTER GRADUATION?
After graduation I hope to serve as a pastor in a congregation.

JoelJoel Baranko

DEGREE PROGRAM - Master's of Divinity
CURRENT YEAR - Intern
AGE - 25
FAMILY - Married
HOMETOWN - Belfield, ND   

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?:
Evangelical heart, love of the church and its mission, biblical stewardship, collegiality and ethical leadership. Not original to me, but it's a great list. When leaders can speak to each of these and claim them for their lives in one way or another, they have opened up to the work of the Holy Spirit - the true valued leader of the church.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?
Wartburg has a unique blend of academics and community. This atmosphere provides the tools necessary for leaders committed to life-long learning. It also allows me to grow into a unique pastoral identity, albeit kicking and screaming at times.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
I'm not really sure - there was a lot of prayer involved. After visiting Wartburg, I think it kind of chose me.

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS UPON GRADUATION?
Although it will be difficult for me to leave the institutions of higher-learning, I am looking forward to my first call. I hope to return for post-M.Div work some day.


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BungersSean Bunger

DEGREE PROGRAM:  MDiv
CURRENT YEAR:    Graduate
AGE:  34
FAMILY:  Married to Jess, son Seth
HOMETOWN:  Juno Beach, Florida 

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?
A valued leader listens to the people and context that is around them.  We all have ideas that we think will work and be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if we fail to listen and know the context of ministry then we are only serving ourselves.  I believe that leading means not always doing things how you want, but doing things that others need.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?
Wartburg has given me the theological skills in the classroom, but more importantly the practical skills of ministry.  Many times the practical skills are learned and discussed in informal conversations around coffee after chapel or on a bench in the quad.  The faculty, staff, and students genuinely care about each other and mentoring leaders for the next generation.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
I like to think that Wartburg chose me.  The first time I stepped foot on the campus for the Center for Youth Ministry Certification School I knew that this was the place for me.  I can't imagine having gone anywhere else.

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS AFTER GRADUATION?
I have been assigned to the New England Synod and look forward to serving that synod for many years to come.


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DeckerFamSandi Decker

DEGREE PROGRAM:  Master of Divinity
CURRENT YEAR:   Senior
AGE:   37
FAMILY:    Married 15 years to Chad, two sons (Carson, 9 and Tristan, 6)
HOMETOWN:    The Rose City, Portland, in the great state of Oregon   

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?:
A valued leader is someone who, through faith, recalls that the Source of all life is our great God. A valued leader is centered in the gospel, understanding that the Holy Spirit reaches different people in different ways. A valued leader trusts in the redemption and forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ. A valued leader is also authentic and is willing to acknowledge their shortcomings and admit their faults, someone who has boht grand vision and a dose of reality, and someone who loves the people they serve.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?
Wartburg’s community is palpable and true.  It is a village where my husband and our children have thrived.  This has allowed me to thrive and to explore and be formed for leadership in the church.  The faculty is approachable, encouraging, and gifted. They encourage and challenge students, and they help students find their own voice and pastoral identity. Coffee hour, daily worship, small groups in classes, internship, and serving as co-President of the student body have all had an important hand in forming me as a leader. 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
I chose Wartburg because it fit my family’s style and my academic needs and interests.  Even before my visit to campus, I could tell WTS was a place where I could thrive as a student and as a mother. The family housing is fantastic.  The public schools in Dubuque are excellent, and Dubuque is a wonderful place to raise a family. The WTS staff cares deeply about Wartburg and its mission, and their investment shows.  In the classroom and in the cul-de-sac, Wartburg offers a collegial environment where people learn, grow, and laugh together. 

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS UPON GRADUATION?
I am looking forward to serving in an ELCA congregation as a pastor.  The variety and opportunities parish ministry offers appeal to me.  I am especially interested in what it means to be the church today in terms of mission and pastoral care.  I have pondered Ph. D. work in this area and I continue to discern this possibility.  But at this time, parish ministry is clearly calling out to me.


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MarkLepperMark Lepper

DEGREE PROGRAM: M.Div.
CURRENT YEAR:   Senior
AGE:  29
FAMILY:  Single
HOMETOWN:  St. Paul, NE

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?
A valued leader is someone who cares deeply for the community that she/he has been called to lead, who is open to the movement and call of the Holy Spirit, who is willing to take risks and step out in faith, and who claims his/her identity as a beloved Child of God and enables others to do the same.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?    
The community of Wartburg has constantly and consistently strengthened me as a valued leader.  In a larger setting, I think there would have been the possibility for me to slip through the cracks.  Here at Wartburg, however, I have been encouraged and challenged in my gifts and my calling.  In my relationships with classmates and faculty, as well as in the classroom, I have been encouraged to develop my pastoral identity and to claim my own unique voice as a leader within the Church.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
When I visited Wartburg, I was struck by the sense of community and the family-friendly atmosphere.  It was important for me to be in an environment where I was able to be involved in the life of the school, as well as with people of all ages.  Wartburg has provided all of that for me!

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS AFTER GRADUATION?
I am really looking forward to becoming an ordained pastor in the ELCA and being called to serve, live, work and PLAY with a community of believers with the gifts that God has given and Wartburg has helped shape.


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Ryan

Wing Shing "Ryan" Lun

DEGREE PROGRAM - Master of Arts with a concentration in Youth, Culture & Mission
CURRENT YEAR - First Year
AGE - 31
FAMILY - Married to Manhei Yip
HOMETOWN - Hong Kong

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?
Be a humble servant-leader. As in Tao Te Ching, “The best leaders become servants of their people.”(chapter 68) Instead of being self-valued, leader should also value people, co-workers, and all those supporters. “The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly. When she has accomplished her task, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!” (Tao Te Ching chapter 17)

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?
Wartburg values every student and sets a good example for everyone to value others as well.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
Well, I like to say Wartburg chose me and has given me a chance to learn.

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS UPON GRADUATION?
I am looking forward to engaging myself in youth ministry and working with youth for all young people are talented and creative in their own ways.


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Suzi_OrloppSuzanne (Suzi) Orlopp

DEGREE PROGRAM:  M.A. with concentration in Youth, Culture and Mission
CURRENT YEAR:    First year
AGE:  23
FAMILY:   Single
HOMETOWN:  West Bend, WI


WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?
A valued leader is someone who knows they are a leader so takes that role to heart. A valued leader is also someone who lives each day with an attitude of good spirit. A valued leader is also someone who stays true to God's calling in their life. Over all they must also have respect for everyone they come into contact with.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?
Wartburg has given me opportunities to be a leader within both the classroom and the social world of Wartburg. Wartburg has also given me freedom to be the kind of leader I know I am to be and has given me the courage to do so.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
I chose Wartburg for many different reasons. First and foremost I chose it for the commitment to God's word. Second the community allowed me to feel right at home. Finally I chose Wartburg for its commitment to Missions and also to Youth.

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS AFTER GRADUATION?
I will be a non-ordained Rostered leader with in the ELCA. My call right now it to be an AIM serving in a parish as the youth and family ministries director.


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Photo - Winston PersaudDr. Winston Persaud
 
CURRENT POSITION: 
Professor of Systematic Theology  

YEARS AT WARTBURG:    22

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER? 
In terms of a Christian understanding, a valued leader is one who lives life daily in the rhythm of confession and forgiveness in the Name of Jesus Christ, in the conviction that God alone is the Source of life.  She/he is reminded again and again that she/he does not achieve life before God but receives life from God through faith in Jesus Christ.  She/he is a forgiven sinner! From this centre of life and forgiveness from God on account of Jesus Christ, she/he leads by calling the community that she/he serves to the multifaceted nature of God’s mission and the variety of gifts the Holy Spirit has given the members of the community for the sake of God’s mission.  She/he lifts up and contributes to that mission; but his/her contribution or anyone else’s contribution is not the centre of God’s mission. A valued leader knows the Christian story—head and heart are integrated with and not opposed to each other—and strives to share it in both formal and informal arenas, public and private. A valued leader shows some versatility in being able to attend to the diversity of people and contexts in which God’s mission places her/him as a valued leader. She/he tenaciously and passionately insists that worship, the Sacraments, prayer, and the sense of life lived at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ are what make her/him a valued leader.  She/he invites others to hear and believe the good news of Jesus Christ.

HOW DOES WARTBURG FORM VALUED LEADERS?    
Through its worship-centred life, its commitment to preparing women and men from the USA and across the world for public leadership in and through the church, Wartburg Seminary, by the composition of the community and its variety of ecclesial relationships, seeks to form valued leaders in the way it actualises its life and identity as a community of mutual learning. For decades, its graduates have spoken about the amazing value of its formal and informal curriculum.  Accessibility of the teaching faculty to students is a hallmark of Wartburg Seminary’s way of forming valued leaders.  We strive to attend appropriately to the various subjects: students, faculty, and the material being taught and learnt.  Attending to the styles of learning of our students and being open to finding creative ways to respond to those styles are a primary commitment. Faculty have different views on various topics and are committed to sharing them in a respectful manner. Academic rigour and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not opposites but form an integrated whole. In a nutshell, Wartburg Seminary forms valued leaders through an intentional relational approach.


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Tobi Tobi Tawn Reinert

DEGREE PROGRAM - Master's of Divinity
CURRENT YEAR - First Year
AGE - 29
FAMILY - Single
HOMETOWN - Ness City, Kansas 

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?
I think a valued leader is one who understands a group's background and its desires, can think clearly about a group's needs, and will try to balance the two, remembering that they are both valuable.  A valued leader respects the group's position of placing trust in another's leadership and honors that trust as fully as possible.  Finally, a valued leader remembers that their leadership is entrusted to them by God, and they take seriously the responsibilities that have been placed on them.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?
Wartburg has and is offering me opportunities in which I am becoming more confident in my leadership abilities.  Within the community and its operations, in classes, and in experiential settings, the people at Wartburg offer empowerment, criticism, and encouragement as I continue to take steps toward being a pastor and leader in my church and community.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?
I chose Wartburg partly because of the encouragement from and challenging discussions with faculty during my visit.  I also enjoyed the obvious sense of community which only Wartburg seemed to offer.

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS UPON GRADUATION?

Both rural and urban settings each offer their own set of challenges and blessings, and I am open to being called to either one, hopefully in Nebraska.  This, of course, depends on hopeful personal developments between now and then.


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Rishmawi_Saliba  Saliba Rishmawi

DEGREE  PROGRAM: 
Master of Arts in Theology, Development and Evangelism (MATDE)
CURRENT YEAR:   First year
AGE:   33
FAMILY:    Married
HOME:   Beit Sahour, Palestine 

WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER? 
Following the call of God with love to serve all.  Living the love of God with all people.  Listening to all people with respect. Speaking the truth always without fear.

HOW IS WARTBURG STRENGTHENING YOU AS A VALUED LEADER?     
Wartburg is giving us the best education because of its academics and community. It is creating new leaders who are able to do God's ministry in a holistic way.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG?    
I heard about Wartburg from my bishop. My church appointed me to go for studies and I thought that this program would be the best for me.

WHAT ARE YOUR MINISTRY PLANS UPON GRADUATION?     
My plans after graduation are to work as a congregation pastor in the ELCJHL and to teach in a university or college.


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Gwen_powertools Dr. Gwen Sayler
Photo at left: Gwen (right) performing withProfessor Ann Fritschel (left) at the Wartburg Coffee House

CURRENT POSITION:  Professor of Hebrew Bible

YEARS AT WARTBURG:   15


WHAT MAKES A VALUED LEADER?
 
A valued leader is grounded in the Scriptures, articulate the Lutheran tradition, and equipped to serve among God's people for the sake of God's mission in the world. This leader is a woman or man of prayer able to comprehend the systemic complexities of situations and to respond accordingly. He or she seeks to work collaborately and collegially with others. The valued leader takes seriously the connection between justification and justice, as well as WTS's motto "where learning leads to mission and mission informs learning."

HOW DOES WARTBURG FORM VALUED LEADERS?    
The entire ecology of WTS, from corporate worship to curriculum to the faculty to collaboration and collegiality among students and between students, staff, and faculty, as well as, I sometimes think, to the water itself contribute to this process.

P.S.:    
As the NCAA Tourney begins--GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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