February has been a busy month for the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) and its Dean of Student and Religious Life, Rev. Timothy J. Swenson. As Dean of Chapel for ILT, Rev. Swenson made three journeys in the first two weeks of the month: 1) to Orlando, FL; 2) to Bloomington, MN; and 3) to El Paso, TX. There he was able to reconnect with ILT graduates and current students.
Rev. and Mrs. Swenson journeyed to the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) Pastors’ Conference held February 2-5 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Orlando, FL. The days were ordered by the daily offices of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Prayer at the Close of Day—all from the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) and excellently led by Rev. Dr. David Wendel. In between there were theological lectures and discussions led by Dr. David Yeago of the North American Lutheran Seminary (NALS); there were exegetical studies led Dr. James A. Nestingen of the NALS; there were opportunities to hear good preaching for the Lenten and Easter seasons; and there was ample time in the afternoons for visits with the NALC leadership. One highlight for Rev. Swenson was being called upon to preach by Dr. Nestingen. His sermon text was Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32—The Prodigal Son parable. The sermon was well-received and generated good discussion. Another highlight was having the opportunity to connect with ILT graduates J.D. Cutlip and Kristen Phillips. Both of them are serving calls to pastoral ministry in NALC congregations. Rev. and Mrs. Swenson say, “Thank you,” for the hard work of the NALC staff in planning and executing a fine conference and they have much appreciation for the hospitality and fellowship enjoyed by all participants.
Hard upon their return to Brookings from Orlando, the Swensons set out the next day for Bloomington, MN and the Augsburg District (AD) of the LCMC Theological Conference at the Bloomington Best Western Plus hotel. There, members of AD and their friends gathered to hear Dr. Steven Paulson and Dr. James A. Nestingen speak on the Christian Life—as it is lived among the estates, especially of marriage. Once again, ILT was able to set up a display of its materials and engage the attendees. ILT is the endorsed seminary for the AD and is deeply appreciative of the support AD, its pastors, and its congregations have provided through the years. On Monday evening, the Swensons hosted a reception for the friends of ILT, its students, and graduates. Graduates like Dave Wollan and Shelly Larson; students like Steve Olcott and Lou Hesse; and friends like Steven King of SOLA Publishing and Paul Knudson of AD’s Board of World Missions joined the many who came to converse, fellowship, and hangout together. Please raise up Shelly and Brad Larson in prayers as they are organizing an LCMC mission start in Montevideo, MN. Again, the Swensons are appreciative and thankful to the leadership of the Augustana District for the well-planned and executed conference.
The third trip made by ILT’s Dean of Student and Religious Life was to El Paso, TX. There, he and Mrs. Swenson attended the Theologian in Residence weekend at St. Paul Lutheran Church, sponsored by the Augsburg Lutheran Churches. The theologian for the event was the Rev. Matthew W. McCormick of Church of the Resurrection, North Charleston, SC. This is of the Protestant Episcopal Church and has joined the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. Rev. McCormick presented his Master of Theology thesis under Dr. Steven Paulson of Luther Seminary. His presentation argued for an alternate locating of Luther’s Reformation breakthrough in the “Absolving Word” granted through the forgiveness of sins. The event presented Rev. Swenson with an excellent opportunity to connect with two of ILT’s students--Caleb Bahr and Rich Little--serving as interns in congregations and with their supervisors--Rev. Lenae Rasmussen and Rev. Michael Giese, respectively. A hearty thank-you and much appreciation go out from the Swensons to those who worked to make the Theologian in Residence weekend so enjoyable.