The Lutheran Center brings to campus a range of speakers to enhance the college community’s understanding of 21st century Lutheran identity, diverse religious and non-religious identities, interfaith engagement, and vocational reflection and discernment. The Center’s first major speaker was Rev. Lenny Duncan, author of Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US, who expands and challenges conventional understandings of who and what is Lutheran today.
Upcoming speakers include:
Kristofer Coffman ’13
September 17 and 24, 2020
Kristofer is a Phd student in the Classical and Near Eastern Studies Department at the University of Minnesota and will talk about race, the Bible, and his vocational journey after St. Olaf.
Eboo Patel October 29-30, 2020
National interfaith leader, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core and author of Acts of Faith, St. Olaf’s 2020 Common Read.
Chris Stedman Spring 2021 Humanist, interfaith activist, and author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious
The Common Read program brings all new students together around a common text. The Common Read for 2020 is Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, a book written by an Indian-born Muslim immigrant who grows up in the suburban Midwest, comes of age in the aftermath of 9/11 and becomes an interfaith leader who mobilizes young people to take up the work of religious pluralism and understanding. Patel’s book draws students into discussions of race, religion, immigrant status and coming of age in a time of polarization. The 2020 Common Read is funded by the Lutheran Center through generous support from the Interfaith Youth Core and the Association of American Colleges and Universities through the generosity of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations as well as from St. Olaf’s To Include is To Excel Grant.
Student Interreligious Council
In partnership with College Ministry, the Lutheran Center established the Student Interreligous Council, made up of students from a variety of traditions including Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Humanist. These students explore with one another how their own religious/non-religious identities inform how they live and how learning more about other identities inform, challenge, and enrich their understanding of who they are individually and as a member of a diverse community like St. Olaf.
Student Interfaith Fellows assist the Lutheran Center in working to deepen campus understanding of the role that religious identity plays in many people’s lives and of the importance of interfaith (including non-religious) education and cooperation on campus and beyond. Fellows plan interfaith events for the campus community, deliver chapel talks and serve on the Lutheran Center Steering Committee, among other duties.
The Lutheran Center partners with Rev. Kelly Chatman and the new Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement (CLNE) to offer summer internships to St. Olaf students. Based in North Minneapolis, CLNE is a faith-based organization working to network and equip individuals and communities to authentically engage their neighbors with compassion and cultural competency. Internship positions include community-based research, community gardening and youth development. Hear about the experiences of our 2020 summer interns.
Conference on Worship, Theology, and the Arts
The Conference on Worship, Theology and the Arts (CWTA) offers professional development, spiritual nourishment and networking opportunities for people engaged in congregational ministry. Pastors, church musicians, artists and lay leaders from many denominations and congregations of varying sizes participate in the conference, which is hosted at St. Olaf. The conference offers ideas and practices that participants can readily incorporate into worship in their own congregations.