From the President
Welcome to the first issue of Word & Sacrament, the Magazine of the North American Lutheran Seminary. A good question might be “Why start a magazine?” The short answer is: We wanted a device (Word & Sacrament) to communicate, as broadly and effectively as possible, the uniqueness of the North American Lutheran Seminary. So, the next question might be “what makes us unique?” And here I would like to offer a slightly longer answer:
• The NALS and Word & Sacrament exist to foster faithful and confessional theological education in the Lutheran tradition. Accordingly, our students and readers will gain an appreciation for the spectrum of thought that exists within the Lutheran Church. We want to be intentional about giving a voice to representatives of the various confessional expressions within Lutheranism. In other words, we don’t represent a singular theological camp in the Lutheran family. There’s richness in our confessional diversity. So we say: “Let’s explore it.”
• Word & Sacrament will intentionally reflect and unpack the meaning of the NALS’s educational values. The NALS exists to educate and to form pastors and church leaders specifically for the North American Lutheran Church. This is why the Core Values of the NALC are woven into the curriculum and community life of the NALS. No other seminary is intentionally committed to forming NALC leaders who are Christ Centered, Mission Driven, Congregationally Focused, and Traditionally Grounded. These are not just slogans, they are living values which reflect the unique ethos of the NALC, which the NALS exists to serve.
• Closely related to this, Word & Sacrament will be a resource for continuing education for pastors and lay leaders. It’s very important for all of us to take time to sharpen the saw. We want to provide a practical resource, and to that end it is our hope that the articles published here will find their way into sermons and Bible studies, and perhaps even come from the lessons and sermons being taught from pastors across the NALC.
• We want to help our readers to grapple with the richness and depth of the catholic faith. We live in an increasingly secular and post-Christian age. One way to address this reality is to foster healthy ecumenical partnerships with those who share our core values. Simply put, we can no longer provide theological education in isolation from other Christian communions. Readers can expect to see this kind of ecumenical engagement in the pages of Word & Sacrament.
• Word & Sacrament is an avenue for supporting the unique “hub and spokes model” the NALS has adopted. The NALS has its “hub,” its own faculty and staff, at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. However, we have several other seminaries that serve as “spokes.” It’s important for us to give voice to students who attend spoke seminaries, to learn about their experiences, and to share the theological resources of the NALS with them. There is flexibility built into the theological education we provide. At the same time, we aim to ensure that our students are formed with confessionally Lutheran hearts and minds.
Finally, this magazine will allow us to share with our supporters all that God is doing. I am amazed and grateful for the group of people – faculty and staff – that God has brought together to work at the NALS. I offer my thanks to each and every one of them. I also want to recognize Dr. Alex Pierce as he will be serving as the General Editor of Word & Sacrament. I welcome and thank Dr. Pierce for serving in this significant role!
Of course, I want to thank you – our supporters. Your prayers and gifts make the ministry of the North American Lutheran Seminary possible. With all my heart, I offer you my deep gratitude.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
The Rev. Dr. Eric M. Riesen
North American Lutheran Seminary