Archived Sections, National Lutheran News

Lutherhostel expands the horizons

Older Lutherans do’t need to stop growing and stop going

Social, intellectual and spiritual growth opportunities are aimed at luring older Lutherans to a series of Lutherhostels scheduled from now through October of this year. These four or five-day educational adventures are presented “in the Lutheran tradition,” according to Walt and Lois Schmidt of Glendale, Arizona. They are co-directors for the Associa-tion of Lutheran Older Adults (ALOA), sponsor of the events.
A typical day at a Lutherhostel begins and ends with devotions including music, plus Bible study and a variety of one-hour presentations, many of which incorporate a local flavor.
There’s also usually a “day away” that takes hostel attendees to a place of local historical or educational interest.
No previous knowledge or study is required; there are no exams and no grades.
ALOA gets support from Wheat Ridge Ministries, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Programming for the events aims to include speakers from both the ELCA and LCMS.
Walt Schmidt was senior adult minister at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Phoenix, Arizona, for 16 years. With the Rev. Wil Erickson, a retired pastor now living in Texas, the two started the Arizona Lutherhostel in 1995. Walt’s wife Lois assists him in what they consider a team ministry.
The hostel program has grown to 10 such events this year. Attendance at the Arizona Lutherhostel, held earlier this year, was 54. That was down somewhat, due to the increasing number of hostels now being offered.
The long-range goal for ALOA is “to be an active force in developing programs with, by and for senior adults in Lutheran churches, districts, synods and the community,” Walt and Lois explained.
Three of the five events scheduled now through October will be held in Minnesota and Wisconsin. On tap are:
* Wisconsin Lakeshore Lutherhostel, Concordia University Wisconsin at Mequon (on the shores of Lake Michigan), June 2-5. Main presenters are the Rev. Dr. John Saleska, Director of Concordia Bible Institute and the Rev. Dr. Dan Paavola, Professor at Con-cordia University Wisconsin.
* Indiana Lutherhostel, Valparaiso, Indiana, July 9-13, with the theme “The Role of the Story.” Main presenters will be Dr. E. Louise Williams, Director of the Lutheran Deaconess Asso-ciation, and the Rev. Dr. Walter Keller, former chair of Valparaiso University’s theology department.
* Minnesota Lutherhos-tel, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, July 18-22, in conjunction with the Lutheran Summer Music (LSM) program. Main presenters will be Dr. Ralph Schultz, former President of Concordia University New York, and Carolyn Heider, parent of two Lutheran Summer Music alumni and LSM board member. Jim Gilbert, former director of the Gustavus Adolphus arboretum and consulting naturalist for WCCO radio and a newspaper columnist, is also on the program. A “day away” visit is planned for the Schell brewery at New Ulm, the second oldest family-owned brewery in America; another stop will be at the 1870 Harkin General Store, also at New Ulm.
* ALOA Colorama Lu-therhostel, Trego, Wisconsin, September 23-28, at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans’ North Woods Heartwood Conference Center and Resort. Thrivent is a co-sponsor. Main presenters will be the Rev. Dr. Charles Mueller, Sr., former president of the Southeastern District LCMS, and the Rev. Ted Schroeder, parish pastor and formerly a writer for the Thrivent magazine. Singing director will be Bob Unger, director of worship and music at Faith Lutheran Church, Appleton, Wiscon-sin (a musician who directs seven choirs, four handbell choirs, orchestra and several ensembles).
Naturalist Jim Gilbert, who’s on the Minne-sota Lutherhostel program, will be at the Trego, Wisconsin, hostel as well. Also on the program will be Harold Henriksen, manager of the public space at Heartwood and resident historian of the Trego facility. The Lac Courte Oreilles tribe of the Chippewa Indians will provide storytellers to share their long history in the Hayward, Wisconsin, area.
* South Carolina Luther-hostel, Lutheran Coastal Retreat Center, Isle of Palms (Charleston), October 21-26. Main presenters will be the Rev. Bob Zimmer, former missionary to Taiwan, President of Wheat Ridge Ministries and retired pastor, and Dr. Carl Schalk, Professor Emeritus, Concordia University Chicago, well-known composer and clinician.
Topics other presenters will share include “The History, Recovery and Restoration of the Confed-erate Submarine H.L. Hunley” and “Weaving Sweet-grass Baskets.”
Registration fees vary by site and range from $435 to $570, covering all costs for full-time participants.
Lutherhostels are planned as residential experiences, but for local residents there are commuter fees ranging from $290 to $435. Those fees cover all costs except housing.
Other activities on the ALOA year-long schedule include pilgrimages such as
“Faith, Friends and Fjords” to Sweden and Norway May 25-June 5 and single-day SeniorFests at popular winter destinations.
Brochures describing programs and costs for Lutherhostels are available at the ALOA Web site: ALOA Questions may be addressed to the ALOA office at 1-800-930-2562. Or, call Walt Schmidt at 623-937-8835 or by e-mail at waltlois@cox. net.