I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8)
I’m writing from Erfurt, Germany, the city where Martin Luther attended university and where, after deciding not to continue his studies in law, he entered an Augustinian monastery and was ordained a priest.
500 years after Luther’s time, a group of 16 curious travelers is exploring our roots by learning about Luther’s life and legacy. The group includes Trinity alumni, Capital alumni, current Trinity students, some Trinity and Capital staff, and a few other friends.
In my work as a pastor and a person of faith, I lift up Luther’s central teachings about justification by grace through faith for Christ’s sake; Word and sacrament as instruments of God’s grace; and vocation.
As an educator, it is also important for me to lift up the educational import of the Reformation. Luther himself was a first-generation college student, whose parents envisioned a brighter future for their son. While Luther is best known as a church reformer, he earned his salary as a university professor in the town of Wittenberg. He wrote to civic leaders about their responsibility to establish and maintain schools – for everyone, regardless of gender or social class. He wrote to parents about the importance of keeping their children in school. Luther’s advocacy for universal education was based on two fundamental convictions: that everyone should be able to read the Scriptures for themselves and that a well-rounded education was essential preparation for whatever work God might call a person to do in life.
Preparing students for a life of vocation is essential to the work we do at Trinity and at Capital University overall. Regardless of whether faculty, staff, or students self-identify as Lutheran, they can identify with the values of Lutheran education that have over-500-year-old roots.
For me, it’s a joy hearing the Trinity alumni on this trip reflect not only on what they learned in seminary but also on the faculty from whom they learned. It’s also a joy seeing our current students dig even more deeply into their Lutheran identity as they reflect on how events and ideas from the past will inform and shape their future ministry.
May the Spirit work signs of life and growth in your own ministry!
The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.
Trinity Lutheran Seminary forms leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world.