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President's Message

A Letter from President Stan Olson

Welcome to Wartburg Theological Seminary, a gathering and sending place! People come to be part of the Wartburg community because they were sent by the people of the church. Almost everyone who studies or teaches here was told something like this, “Christ’s church needs a leader like you.” And probably also, “Wartburg is a place where your servant leadership can be nurtured.”
 
People are gathered here by Christ, around Word and Sacrament in worship and around the Word and the world in study, conversation and service. By Christ, people are sent from here to gather others in congregations for worship and learning so that they also can be sent equipped into their daily lives. These rhythms of sending and gathering have been part of Christian life for 2000 years, and Wartburg has nurtured that rhythm for more than a century and a half.
 
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)
 
Jesus gathered his disciples and sent them as apostles into a distressed world. In 19th century Germany, Pastor Wilhelm Loehe had compassion on scattered immigrants and their Native American neighbors in the upper-Midwest. Loehe gathered and sent scores of seminarians to minister to them. This was Wartburg Seminary’s origin, and the blessing of that sending is needed now more than ever. You are needed.
 
Wartburg’s mission is strong precisely because God has chosen to gather people in faith and give them a mission. Wilhelm Loehe used the phrase “life together” to describe this shared experience. A century later German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer used the phrase inspiringly for young church leaders. And, when Professor William Weiblen wrote the history of Wartburg, he chose the title "Life Together at Wartburg Theological Seminary" to capture the vitality of the community life that characterizes us. With the wisdom of many, living and dead, Wartburg excels in life together for the sake of God’s world!
 
We believe that those who will lead communities of faith are best prepared if they are formed for that leadership in a community of faith. At Wartburg people are shaped by God’s Word, by the church’s traditions, and by the faith of other believers. Students are encouraged in dedication to outstanding scholarship, caring community and the exercise of God-given reason. We practice respect for each other’s differences and the world’s rich variety of cultures. We look for God’s work through careful study and faithful imagination.
 
Relying on God’s Spirit, the Wartburg community strives to help people become valued pastors, deaconesses, diaconal ministers and associates in ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and for other churches, especially those with which the ELCA has close mission relationships. This community serves God's healing love for individuals and communities by training lay people whose vocations include youth work, global connections and contextual exploration of the faith. Whether the learning is on campus or off, students can expect to absorb Wartburg’s Christ-centered, community-building convictions and practices.
 
Wartburg Theological Seminary seeks to develop the whole person for public ministry in the church for the world. Embodied in our life together, our curriculum is an educational strategy to accomplish the goals of attaining basic theological knowledge, developing professional skills that enable future leaders of the church to communicate effectively, and growing and integrating the personal qualities of a genuinely caring person. Leadership in Christ’s mission is the standard. Elsewhere on this website you can learn more about our pioneering curriculum and the "Twelve Pastoral Practices" that are the metrics by which we assess the effectiveness of Wartburg’s promise to you and to the church.
 
A sound preparation for public ministry requires a public theology. Wartburg’s curriculum is centered in a rigorous study of the Holy Scriptures as guidance in all matters of Christian faith and life. Students here engage in study that gives faithful attention to the history of the global church and the rich variety of theological interpretation that has come down to us through the centuries.  The Lutheran Confessions are faithful interpretation of the Scriptures. From that solid foundation we welcome the witness of other traditions and engage ecumenical and global understandings of the faith. Wilhelm Loehe and his tradition welcomed the open questions which are part of our rich theological heritage. Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Wartburg is a place to pursue such questions, always seeking to be faithful and effective for service of the neighbor and the world.
 
Wartburg’s worship life draws deeply from our Lutheran tradition along with other ecumenical and contemporary worship resources. Life here offers rich opportunities for worship, prayer, pastoral conversation and counseling for one’s own faith, and preparation for leadership in these arenas of our gathered life. Wartburg strives to provide those who study for public ministry with a healthy sense of themselves as people centered in God's grace within a lively Christian community.
 
Wartburg Theological Seminary's vocation thrives in partnership with every congregation, institution, and agency of Christ’s church, seeking to carry out the mission of living by and for the gospel of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
 
Our Lord gathered disciples and sent them into the world. In this calling and sending place such vocations are welcomed and nurtured. I invite you to learn more about Wartburg and its mission by exploring this website and by visiting us in Dubuque!
 
May you know God’s rich blessings in the callings of your life,
 
Stanley N. Olson, President


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