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Seminary of the Street offers pragmatic discipleship

One popular question being asked in church circles today is “What is God doing today?” That question resonated throughout the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod (MAS) during its extensive “in-reach” effort.
As it turned out, those asking the question and listening to answers heard about significant vitality within local congregations: Congregants shared stories of communities rooted in radical grace, authentic worship, courageous discipleship, and racial inclusivity. To undergird the emerging faith communities, Faith in the City, the Minneapolis Area Synod, and other stakeholders are planning opportunity for Christian education through the Seminary of the Streets.
“The Seminary of the Streets is an opportunity for people with a missional curiosity to find what the Holy Spirit is doing in our communities, and what the Holy Spirit is calling us to,” explained the Rev. David Wangaard, bishop’s associate for the MAS. “We need to get out of our bubbles and experience God’s presence in our entire community,” said Mark Johnson, past president of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Excelsior, Minnesota, and a lay person actively involved in developing Seminary of the Streets.
Planners have developed a free three-year course of studies designed to engage community leaders in a practical theological dialogue. “The faculty in the classrooms are leaders within congregations who are able to engage the question of what God is doing in their community.

“Mission partnering already happens. We’re just taking it above ground now.”

The first session, held at the Minnesota Church Center on September 16, addressed the topic “The Purpose of the Church, Out the Door and into the World,” based on Acts 2:1-12, 43-47. Faculty included Bishop Craig Johnson, the Rev. Sue Tjornehoj, and the Rev. David Wangaard, all of the MAS.
The second session, October 21, will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1800 Glenwood Avenue, Minneapolis, and will examine “The Streets on Which We Live: Mapping Metro Disparity.” The Revs. Kelly Chatman and Deb Hutterer will facilitate the discussion based on Acts 17:16-21.
For more information about the remaining six session in the first year of Seminary of the Streets, visit

A three-year missional program

The second year of the program will address the question “What is God calling me to do?” The final year will put people on the street living the gospel that they have been discussing, according to Wangaard.
“There’s nothing really new [in the Seminary of the Streets program],” said the Rev. Kelly Chatman, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran and faculty member for the courses. “Mission partnering already happens. We’re just taking it above ground now.”
Seminary of the Streets “pulls together the institutional church with the innovative church,” Chatman goes on. The institutional leaders are acknowledging the indigenous leadership that already exists, according to Chatman. “In my ministry, for me to be acknowledged, I had to be taken out of my community, to learn a different language, in order to be recognized as a leader.” Now, Chatman believes, Seminary of the Streets gives credence to natural leadership.
All are welcome, according to Wangaard. Come to one session or come to all. There is no cost. “The only homework involves reading the book of Acts and agreeing to worship at two congregations other than your own over the next year,” he explained. Wangaard believes it is essential that participants experience the church beyond the doors of their congregation.

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