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by Sonja G

Summer Seminarian

Thank You for Your Support!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
by Sonja G

It is hard to believe I have almost completed my first full year of seminary! This June, I spent two weeks at Luther Seminary in St. Paul participating in intensive classes and living in community with my fellow distributed learning students. It is sometimes hard to communicate the reality of this experience. Two weeks can seem like such a short period of time, but when you are together in class for 7 hours a day, eating lunch in the cafeteria, finding dinner, and spending time in the dorms in the evenings and on the weekends, it is amazing how quickly relationships are established.

Add to that the similar joys and challenges of working, parenting, and participating in the distributed learning program, and it is a great benefit to be around so many individuals who “get” exactly what you balance and experience on a day to day basis and how much of a privilege it is to be on this journey.

My summer classes include Public Worship: Leadership in Word and Sacrament and Triune God and the World: Holy Spirit. These classes are a great balance as their content and execution are drastically different.

In worship class we learned by being engaged in a variety of worship experiences throughout the week culminating in planning and participating in the Great Three Days/Triduum services (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil). Lecture was interspersed with experience as we gained insight into worship planning, music selection, the history of liturgy, and the “central things” in word and sacrament that draw us into the body of Christ and send us out into the world to love our neighbor sharing God’s love.

Planning a unique Maundy Thursday worship service with a team of twelve other students was a highlight and joy. There were challenges (as are always present in worship planning) but the opportunity to consider ways to engage sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch in a communal encounter with the body of Christ opened my eyes to how we can communicate the abundance that is Christ’s love poured out for all in a worship experience.

The Holy Spirit class was an intense opportunity to consider the nature of the third person of the Trinity. We learned about the history of Pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit), and about the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. We considered how we create space to be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, and how we understand the Spirit as the creative presence of God from the very beginning, which brings Jesus to us and thereby justifies us, and is present with us through grace (a grand simplification of five days of seven-hour-a-day lectures!)

This was certainly a lot to digest in a short period of time, and I will continue to process these things as I complete the additional reading and write the papers that are the culmination of my learning for the Holy Spirit class.

I am grateful for all the ways the people of St. Peter support me on this journey with the time to attend classes, financial support for seminary costs, and words of encouragement along the way. Seeing, encouraging, and building up leaders is a fundamental activity of the church, and St. Peter is living out this call. May we continue to raise up leaders in the faith!


Grace + Peace,

Sonja Gerstenberger

Director of Faith Formation

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