Breakout Sessions

Martin Luther statue, Luther College

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Liberating Grace conference breakout sessions are offered from 1:30-2:30 and 3-4 p.m. in Valders Hall of Science and the Center for Faith and Life.

Greening the Church: An Alumna Shares How the Church Can Reform Our Thinking About Sustainability
1:30 p.m. ● Valders 349

What role does the church have in responding to environmental issues? How can the Lutheran Church draw on the legacy of the Reformation to take action? Callie Mabry '14 shares her perspective of how the church can reform our thinking about sustainability and inspire positive change from her experiences working with a variety of Lutheran and non-Lutheran faith communities.

While a student at Luther, Mabry was a Greening Area Churches Intern in northeastern Iowa, an intern with Eco-Justice Ministries in Colorado, and learned about environmental efforts of churches in Norway while on the Green Germany and Norway January Term class. After graduation, she joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps for two years and continues to work for Faith in Place, an interfaith environmental justice organization in Chicago.

Tolerance and Religious Pluralism in the Age of Reformation: The Religious 'Other' Then and Now
1:30 p.m. ● Valders 345

In this session, we will consider how early modern Europeans dealt with the fragmentation of Christianity in the sixteenth century. We will examine their views and treatment of the religious "other," and consider whether our reactions have changed in the ensuing 500 years.  

Victoria Christman is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement at Luther College. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in history and the comparative study of religion from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in early modern history from the University of Arizona, under the direction of Heiko A. Oberman (†2001) and Susan C. Karant-Nunn. In 2015, Christman published the monograph, Pragmatic Toleration: The Politics of Religious Heterodoxy in Early Reformation Antwerp, 1515-1555, with Rochester University Press. She has written several articles on aspects of the Reformation in the sixteenth-century Low Countries, and is currently coediting an anthology titled, Topographies of Tolerance and Intolerance: Responses to Religious Pluralism in Reformation Europe.

The Enduring Impact of Luther's Liturgical Revolution
1:30 p.m. ● Valders 252

Martin Luther's proposals for liturgical reform, together with his sacramental thinking, made an impact upon the understanding and practice of Christian worship that endures into the present. This session will explore the ritual, theological and musical dimensions of this legacy in relation to Luther's fundamental aim: that the practice of worship nurture faith (trust) in God and love for the neighbor. The question will be posed: what is the future for this legacy?

The Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Schattauer is professor of liturgics and Dean of the Chapel at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, where he has taught since 1996. He is the author of over 30 articles and essays in liturgical history and theology, the editor of Inside Out: Worship in an Age of Mission (1999), a participant in the work that led to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), a contributor to the Brill Companion to the Eucharist in the Reformation (2011), and a past president of the North American Academy of Liturgy.

J. S. Bach's Mass in B Minor: Symbolism, Symmetry and Summation
1:30 p.m. ● Valders 254

This session will give an overview of Bach's monumental opus, placing it in the theological context of the Reformation. It will also highlight its musical construction. The session is open to all, but will be of particular interest to those attending the evening performance.

Gregory Peterson is professor of music, college organist and head of the Music Department at Luther College. He holds the DMA degree in organ performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa, a master of music degree in organ and sacred music from Yale University and a bachelor of arts degree in music from Luther College. He is active as a performer, teacher and church musician.

Gallery Activity: Before the Foundations by Richard "Skip" McKinstry
1:30 and 3 p.m. ● Center for Faith and Life, 2nd floor gallery

Kate Elliott, Luther College associate professor of art history, and David Kamm, gallery coordinator at Luther College, will introduce the exhibit Before the Foundations and lead the group through a series of close-looking exercises to explore together one way that the Reformation has had a lasting impact on creative practice.

Before the Foundations, by artist Richard "Skip" McKinstry, is a series of images on paper, based in photography and digital collage, exploring the considered cost of creation, the loss of innocence, free will and God's sovereignty, the struggle to function in a wild and overgrown world separated from its source of life, and redemption. McKinstry says about his work: "I believe that art, like people, provides little theophanies of unique, reflected light (and refracted light), insights into the nature of God."

Being Co-Converted: Missionary Service in a Fractured World
3 p.m. ● Valders 349

A global refugee crisis. Famine. Xenophobia. Religious extremism. Diseases of poverty. Civil war. Undocumented immigration. Terrorism. Gender-based violence. Nationalist politics. The world that God so loves is groaning under the weight of deep pain, and we are all in it together. Different from the historic missionary activity of converting people to a particular brand of Christianity, come and explore the ways that contemporary ELCA missionaries and our global companions are being converted – together – to God’s vision of a world reconciled.

Rev. Heidi Torgerson is the Director for Global Service in the ELCA Global Mission unit, leading the team that recruits, calls, trains, and supports some 230 ELCA missionaries in nearly 50 countries around the world. Heidi’s previous calls include service as director for the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program, and as a long-term missionary in central Mexico. She is passionate about the life-sustaining witness of the global church and loves helping people wrestle with what it means to be sent into this fractured world as God’s people. Heidi is originally from (very) small-town North Dakota, and is a graduate of Luther College (’00) and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her spare time lately is spent mostly in games of pretend with her 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.

For the Sheer Joy of It: Luther's Theology of the Body
3 p.m. ● Valders 252

Martin Luther's writings about embodiment and human sexuality as intrinsic parts of God's creation connect to current movements in the Lutheran church related to sexuality and gender. We will explore Luther's theology of the body and its modern day implications from academic and activist perspectives.

Wanda Deifelt is professor of religion at Luther College, where she teaches courses in Luther and Lutheranism and God and Gender She holds master's and doctoral degrees in theological studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University.  

Amalia Vagts '95, is executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a social ministry that believes the public ministry of publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people demonstrates God's extraordinary love for all people.

New Directions in Martin Luther and Reformation Research
3 p.m. ● Valders 345

Until about 30 years ago, research on Martin Luther and the German Reformation was the domain of theologians and political historians who focused mostly on the Reformation's early years. Since then, scholars interested in the Reformation's social and cultural context have sought to understand Martin Luther the man, and to investigate how, during the second half of the sixteenth century, the Reformation movement became its own church with unique and distinctive forms. This session investigates these new directions in research and assesses how they change our overall understanding of Martin Luther and the movement he inspired.

Robert J. Christman is associate professor of history at Luther College. He received his Ph.D in early modern European history in 2004 from the University of Arizona, where he studied with the distinguished Luther scholar, Heiko A. Oberman. Christman's first book, Doctrinal Controversy and Lay Religiosity In Later Reformation Germany: The Case of Mansfeld, explored the Lutheran controversy over the doctrine of original sin as it impacted the lives of the laity in the German territory of Mansfeld during the 1570s and 1580s. He has written numerous articles on various aspects of the German Reformation and is currently finishing a book on the Reformation's first executions and their impact titled, The Reformed Augustinians of Lower Germany and the Dynamics of the Early Reformation.

"To Taste with Wonder": Martin Luther's Singing Church
3 p.m. ● Valders 254

Martin Luther’s abiding interest in congregational singing is apparent in his writings and compositions. Yet the practice of congregational singing developed slowly in sixteenth-century Germany. This session will consider the state of liturgical music during Luther's lifetime and musical developments after his death that have made congregational singing a cornerstone in the Lutheran Church.

Melanie Batoff is assistant professor of music at Luther College and teaches music history classes. She holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Michigan. Her research on medieval sacred music has been presented nationally and internationally.

Brad Schultz is a visiting instructor of music at Luther College, teaching courses in music history, church music and applied organ. He holds a master’s degree in sacred music from Emory University in Atlanta.