Rev. Dr. Thomas Schattauer & Matthew O’Rear Reflect on New Daily Rhythm of Digital Worship at WTS

March 14, 2020: The New Rhythm Begins


During this time of heightened concern, uncertainty, and social isolation due to the coronavirus, it remains essential that we continue to be a worship-centered community—a community that sings and prays around God’s word. We are committed to gather as a community for worship each day at the regular 10:30am CST hour. Students, faculty, and staff join as their schedule allows and hang around for fellowship and chat time in Zoom breakout rooms following the service.

We are keeping the worship services internal to the WTS community so that we can maintain a space for worship that allows us to experiment and practice the leadership of worship in this digital environment.

As we prepare for worship by Zoom, we have invited the WTS community to consider how they might create an appropriate environment for worship wherever they are. We suggest lighting a candle at the beginning of worship each day. On Monday, we also suggest a bowl of water as a reminder of baptism for Prayer at the Font; on Tuesday, perhaps an image of the sun rising for Morning Prayer; and on Wednesday, an opened bible or something that conveys the Word of God to you for the Service of the Word.

We place our trust in God to gather us in the name of Jesus and to form us as a people free from fear and free for life-giving relationships with one another.

April 23, 2020: Reflections on Digital Worship at WTS


Though we are scattered and separated during the pandemic, Wartburg has continued to be a worship-centered community. We were quickly able to move daily Chapel into a Chapel Zoom room, where students, faculty, and staff gather online through a dedicated link. The Chapel Staff with the assistance and inspiration of Matt O’Rear (Interim Dean of the Chapel beginning July 1, 2020) and Ted Winders (Technology Director) has worked diligently to forward the regular patterns of our worship in this digital environment. Gathering in this way with one another around scripture, song, and prayer way has been been a great gift. There’s even opportunity for after-worship fellowship in a virtual “coffee hour” each day with community announcements followed by breakout rooms—a “Zoomfectory.” While the on-campus community indeed looks forward to the day we can gather again in person, we are learning ever new ways of gathering our hybrid community of residential and distance learners in digital space.

April 23, 2020


This Eastertide, the gospel for the second Sunday of Easter, reminded us that Jesus came to the disciples who were behind closed and locked doors. COVID-19 has indeed shifted the worship life at Wartburg Seminary, but we have remained worship centered community, even behind our own closed and locked doors.

Utilizing the same technology we use for classroom instruction, we have been able to continue our weekly pattern of worship. Faculty, student, and staff have continued to provide leadership, and we have seen a new way of being the body of Christ develop organically.

Each of the worship leaders has provided innovative ways to communicate the gospel: props during a sermon, artwork created to be displayed on the screen, and even providing special music to help focus our worship.

While we long to physically gather back in our beloved Chapel, what this time apart has shown is that Christ is present, we still have an assembly of worshipers, and the gospel is proclaimed anew even behind our locked doors.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Worship at WTS


Rev. Dr. Thomas Schattauer, who has long served Wartburg Seminary as Professor of Liturgics and Dean of the Chapel, will be retiring at the end of this 2019-20 academic year. Having taught in the ministry division and served as Dean of the Loehe Chapel since 1996, Dr. Schattauer treasures the relationships with students, faculty, staff, and alumni that have developed through the years. As he concludes this chapter of his life, he anticipates enjoying a new chapter of life in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

A book of letters is being gathered in honor of his retirement. The letters will be collated and put into a bound volume, which will be presented to Thomas at the end of the semester. You are invited to contribute a letter to this bound collection—in fact, we would welcome as many letters as possible! If you wish to contribute a letter, we ask that you keep the letter to one (1) page for the sake of the collation and publishing process.

Please email your letter as an attachment and direct it to my attention at this email address or to Lynne Baumhover in the Office of the President at


Interim President Dr. Kristine Stache announced to the Wartburg Community the appointment of Matthew D. O’Rear as Wartburg’s Interim Dean of the Chapel starting July 1, 2020. With a passion for liturgy and liturgical theology, Matt has served the Wartburg chapel and led numerous liturgies throughout the wider church. He will be working with Thomas over the next several months in preparation for this transition.

Matt, along with the WTS community and technology, has resourced several local Dubuque congregations in addition to his home congregation in New York City in their transitions to worshipping online. He also co-led a webinar for LEAD on leading digital worship, which was attended by over 400 church leaders.