Luther Learning Initiative

HTLC Invited to Luther Seminary Learning Initiative

This winter, Holy Trinity was one of 12 Christian churches chosen to participate in a three-year learning process led by Luther Seminary. The program, titled “Congregations in a Secular Age,” is funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment and seeks to “discover how congregations can accompany people in narrating, interpreting, and integrating their direct encounters with the living Christ.”

“We want to teach people how to see God in their everyday lives,” says Dr. Michael Binder, Associate Director of the program, on a Zoom call with the HTLC team. The program is based on the book “The Congregation in a Secular Age,” by Dr. Andrew Root, Director. Root writes in the book he feels there are fewer sacred elements in our modern churches due to the constant push for innovation. He challenges congregations to redefine change and how they can continue to enrich lives.

Each congregation is represented by a group of three to five people. The team representing Holy Trinity includes leader Luke Friendshuh, Pastor Ben Hilding, Children Youth and Family Director Casey Fremstad, and Communications Specialist Rose Fife.

“While we have a team of people representing Holy Trinity, this will be a project where the whole congregation will be invited to participate,” says Pastor Ben. “We look forward to the learning and discerning we get to do together!”

Team leader Luke Friendshuh is optimistic for this process. I hope that we can increase people’s awareness of God’s presence in our lives and in the world. Open their eyes to see the joy, love, goodness, beauty, peace that comes with this increased awareness. GOD is here. The church isn’t just a community or a way to help those in need. It helps us connect with God–which helps us align our wills with God and allows the love of God to flow through us. This the gift that Jesus gave us – the ability to connect with God through the Holy Spirit. It is given to us, but we only fully benefit when we actually OPEN the gift.”

The group will meet bi-monthly and complete assignments such as interviewing people about their faith. (Get ready, everyone! You know I love to hear your stories.) With access to training and webinars, they will also meet with the teams from the other congregations every few months through a video call. Originally set up as an in-person event, the program had to be reimaged due to COVID-19. But additional Zoom time on a Saturday morning does not seem to have deterred this group.

I am very excited to be a part of this learning process and experience to better understand the church in the secular age,” says HTLC representative Casey Fremstad. “I think that this is an important conversation that all congregations will need to be engaging in at some point in the very near future. In our current context, people not only have the option to ignore the existence of God, but for many, the presence of God simply never even crosses their mind. In secular settings, people are finding meaning in experiences that are not religious and therefore do not even consider God. Especially in a world of digital ministry how do we reclaim the sacred and recognize holy transformation in our lives today? I look forward to embarking on this journey with this highly intelligent and gifted team!”

A three-year process, the first year will focus on learning from the Luther Seminary directors. Experience and Reflection are the themes of the second and third years, respectively.

Pastor Ben looks forward to this time and how we can grow as a congregation. “We are honored to have been asked to participate in this Lilly Grant-funded initiative, and I’m excited to learn from these other selected congregations and colleges, as well as the seminary faculty throughout this process.”
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist
March 2, 2021

Leave a Reply