Tell us your Story

Hello all,

The Reunion is over and we had a good time. It was good to see Ralph, Ed, and many other faculty from our days at LSTC. As usual, I spent a lot of time with Gerry in the kitchen.

The new Chapel is amazing, the addition of the McCormick seminary building makes the center feel more, well, centered. And the addition of a campus pastor is very welcome – God knows we could have used that in our day.

We would (still) love to help you share your experience.

Please share a story that captures something of what you have learned or experienced in the last twenty years.

First Option: You can do this my sending me at email:  tkyllo@mac.com
I will post your story within a few days of receiving it.

Second Option: You can also just make a comment to this post. I suggest you write it in a word processor and then cut and paste into the document. If you have problems, you can always email me at the above address!

Thanks!
Terry Kyllo,

Reunion WebMonkey

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Tom Krieger

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”  Just thought we’d start with an attention-getter (aka Bilbo).  Alas, four years was far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable folk as you.  Which of course I didn’t, since I was on the five year plan, but we did leave together.  Been in Illinois ever since.

My first call was the first time I ever met people in the Lutheran Church who truly believed that the dinosaurs was just a conspiracy made up by the godless liberals.  A fine combination was made when the first sexuality study was released (to the public before us, so kindly); ah, remember those days?  Jill and I hosted an exchange student from Germany during that time; it was kind of like having a pet that took itself out.  Jan was a great kid and now lives on the East Coast.  Dean Hoelz and I took a little man-trip around Lake Ontario in ’93, at least I think it was Ontario – everything was in French so I really don’t know where the heck we were.  I just knew we weren’t in Beaver Springs anymore (where Dean was serving).  Dmitri was four months old when we moved to my second call in the land of Joseph (the mormon, not the youngest brother).

They crucified me in Nauvoo – several times.  The ministerial hosted a Passion Play every other year, and I was one of the few people in town with long hair, so guess what part I was cast in.  I really think they just liked seeing me die.  But I kept coming back!  The power of God and a sturdy forklift can raise up the most curious of believers.  Aidan joined our ranks in 1999 on Dmitri’s first day of Kindergarten.

The last nine years I have lived at Fairbury, which is a little like Mayberry.  Since moving here I came to find that Fairbury is 12 miles removed from where my great-grandparents purchased their first property after coming to America from the East Frisian Islands.  I still enjoy synod youth ministry (remember Decatur KevHead?).  I have run the distance of a marathon solo twice as a fundraiser for the nursing home that is that distance from where I serve.  The last four years I have found biking that distance to be far more enjoyable.  Dmitri and I have been to several Illini games, and caught the Bears/Jets the day after Christmas…I was in row 27 seat 4 if you were watching.  My boys enjoy my sense of humor; Jill’s hair has gone completely gray.

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Terry Kyllo

When Sheryl and I drove away from LSTC with our Chevy Corsica (aka the Crapsica) full of stuff we had tears in our eyes.

But over the next hour or so we began to look forward to our destination:  Mountain Home, Idaho.  Grace Lutheran was a struggling mission congregation. The bishop told me: If you can’t help them grow then we will just shut them down.”

Nice.

The very first day on the job, the two patriarchs of the congregation said to me, “Now that you are here we can put the flag back in the sanctuary.” They had figured that I was young, and as such they could “mold me.”

They were wrong. No flag, as we are baptized into a transnational faith.

Over time I began to understand that they had reasons to want to mold me. Their first pastor had sexually abused many members and broke the congregation into splinters. These two men and their families had tried to protect the pastor, as they could not believe what was being said about him. That is, until he approached their own wives.

I didn’t find this out until I was two years in. So, I sent a letter about the abuse to the congregation on the Easter Vigil, preached at Easter, and came to church on Monday morning waiting for phone calls to start.

Some were glad to know. Others were sad. These two fine men, and others who had carried the secret, were angry that knowledge of this would ruin the congregation’s reputation in the community and wreck the congregation. We had scheduled to tear out walls in the church building to make more room for worship the next Saturday. “What’s the use in this?” they said. “Nobody will want to come now anyway.”

Sunday morning we had 85 people, 20 more than usual, and Good Friday and Easter were back after only one week. And the next week we had 75 people and the numbers just stayed there, and grew. Sheryl gave birth to our two daughters there.

After 4 tough years, we went to Spokane and there I was to redevelop Salem Lutheran  Church. Salem had formerly been 1200 members, but was now down to 220. Two years later, an associate pastor working with me called and told me she found out that two pastors had concurrently sexually violated their position of trust with over 40 women, causing untold pain, 2 suicides, and many divorces. I called the bishop and said, “Well, I am two for two.”

After only two years there  I went to Anacortes to serve as a mission developer. After fast growth, there came the bust of the internet and later the Iraq war. We went from 150 to 70 in about 1 year. Tough. But then we began a relationship with the Episcopalians.

My daughters have known Anacortes as their home. During this time I wrote Being Human: the Image of the Serving God and had a great time doing it. I am currently working on another book and hope to have it out by June.

I currently serve 4 congregations in the Skagit Valley of Washington State. Three of them are Episcopalian.

http://www.skagitcluster.org

I have found that each of my congregations have had similar stories of pastoral malfunction and overfunction. It is a miracle that churches survive many of these incidents.

But then the church is a miracle that only Wind makes possible, as Ed Krentz taught us many years ago.

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Scott Frederickson

  1. I liked how Kevin formed his missive, and…subversive leader that he is, I will be more than happy to follow along.

    My first call was outside of Chicago, and after three years I went to graduate school at Luther Seminary where I received a doctorate in Systematic Theology on the relationship between the Triune God and Christian congregations. Chris (class of 1987) and I served a congregation in Blaine, MN for seven years.

    After that, we went to Bismarck, ND where I was the “Teaching Pastor” for four years. Chris finally was ordained in 2007, and she was an Associate Pastor at another congregation up here. I resigned my call, and did some interim work in prairie congregations until 2008 when I began a New Start congregation in non-traditional ministries. I have been at Prairie Table Ministries since then. Chris has recently taken a call in Omaha, NE, and I will be joining her down there later this summer.

    Since 2005 I have been an adjunct professor in Congregational Leadership and Mission at Luther Seminary, where I teach primarily in the Doctor of Ministry program. Over that time I have enjoyed getting to meet many pastors, not only in the ELCA, but also in denominations from across the country. I once even taught at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, but we won’t go into that…

    Rachel is at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, and she is studying philosophy and religion…but since she joined us for so many of our senior classes back in 1990-91, most of you probably are not surprised. Our youngest Madeleine is graduating from high school in a few months, and she is preparing to go to college somewhere (almost certainly a place that does not have snow!).

    As of today (January 31, 2011), I am not sure if I will be able to meet with you all in Chicago, but I working on it…I trust that hand of God has kept you all well, lifted you when necessary, prodded you when needed, and loved you faithfully.

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Kevin Bates

It is twenty years since we all were together.  Twenty-four since we first met. Here are a few of the events in my life. Got married a month after graduation.  First call, Northlake LC in western suburbs of Cook County.  … Continue reading

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