Friday, April 01, 2005

Becoming Lutheran, Part 1: personal reasons

Both my wife and I grew up in the Evangelical Covenant church. In the summer of 1995, we were married, and in the fall moved to Princeton Theological Seminary, where I began the M.Div. program. A year later, we were Lutherans. How did that happen at a Presbyterian seminary?

We have nothing but good memories of our time at PTS, we met good friends there, and I received a good education. Our first Sunday in New Jersey, we went to a local Episcopal church where no one talked to us, even during the fellowship/coffee an'. Our second Sunday, we happened upon a welcoming ELCA congregation – friendly, open, and a woman from the church, Ricarda, even brought a loaf of bread to our apartment Sunday evening and welcomed us to join a small couple's group. So, the first reasons for becoming Lutheran were good fellowship and fresh baked bread.

But why not Presbyterian? Since I was at a Presbyterian seminary, the rational thing to do, from a career perspective, was to become a Presbyterian minister. A big personal reason that I did not become Presbyterian was that I was never invited. Again, this is not meant to throw a bad light on the friends we made at PTS, nor to imply that the seminary itself was not a hospitable environment. But I often encountered the unspoken message that I was an outsider to the great tradition of Presbyterianism and Princeton. I had no PTS or other ecclesiastical connections. Often, when I shared that I was from the Covenant church, that was the end of the conversation. The only professors at the seminary that I found approachable, interestingly, were Lutheran. So, I tended to take their courses and attend meetings of Lutheran students and professors on campus. There was more of a Minnesota nice, hospitable climate at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and the “Luther League” on campus. So, we became Lutheran...

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