Hello Everyone at Easter,
As some of you may know I’ve been attending the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. As part of my time there I have been part of a fellowship program called Public Church Fellows. The goal of the program is to provide a stipend to student who show dedication to doing Church “outside the four walls”, this usually means being the hands and feet of Jesus alongside non-profit, service, and community organizing groups. My first year as a fellow I worked with an organization called the Inner-City Muslim Action Network or IMAN. It’s a Muslim led but ecumenical in practice organization that works out of the Chicago Lawn neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. They have projects ranging from health clinics, voter education drives, returning citizen trainings, and healthy food initiative. While I was with them I spent time designing flyers, door-knocking, and assisting with their corner store initiative that works to fight the effects of food deserts in the south side. I got to know some great people and see a beautiful expression of faith at work in the world. My second year I worked for The Peoples Lobby a community organizing group. I helped with their efforts holding politicians accountable to their constituents through voter registration drives, community meetings, and finding authors for a devotional that the group was planning on putting out. During my time with them I learned so much, and wrestled with how the Church can be the visible sign of Christ in the world including in the political world without being political as it has come to be known today.
Some of my favorite moments at LSTC have been in the classroom. There are a lot of really great professors and I have some of the most brilliant peers so the discussions are almost always lively and stretching. I wish I could talk about every class I have taken but I’ll try and focus on my top two. One of the best classes for me was my first history and theology course. The course was more theology than history and it was taught by a brilliant Professor by the name of Vitor Westhelle. The way he taught the class and through discussion of various aspects of society demonstrated how Church is called out into the world, and how it can live out there was amazing for me. It really changed my own personal theology and my own sense of calling. My other favorite class was Paul’s Letters. The class itself was a night class and offered jointly with the Presbyterian seminary next to LSTC. It was taught by a professor whose other job is an Episcopal minister. The discussions in the class were amazing. Even though there were only 15 or so students in the class it was amazing how many different life experiences and points of view. I think I learned just as much from the other students as I did the professor in that class so I will always look back on it fondly.
On top of classes at LSTC there are certain field education experiences candidates are expected to take part in. The first is Clinical Pastoral Education or CPE which is when candidates spend time as an intern chaplain at a hospital, hospice, or assisted living center. I did my unit of CPE over the summer at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities hospital in Minneapolis. I did not enjoy it and do not have a call to be a chaplain. My biggest take away was that I will probably always have room for improvement when it comes to my pastoral care skills. The other field ed opportunity is called Ministry in Context or MIC where students partner up and spend ten hours a week learning in a local parish. I was assigned to a church called Shekinah Chapel which is in Riverdale, IL a small town just outside the Chicago city limits. As my supervisor there Pastor Yehiel Curry put it the church was “Black Church by practice Lutheran by denomination.” When my MIC partner and I showed up for worship on Sunday the number of white people in the congregation tripled. I loved my time there. I worked to revamp their confirmation program and formed amazing relationship with a wonderful group of mostly young women. While there I learned so much about seeing the spirit at work in the congregation, the importance of sharing our stories, and how to be white in a black space. As far as I and the people of Shekinah are concerned they will always be family to me.
The most recent part of my seminary journey has been internship. The process to find a site that worked for me was longer than I would have liked but I am very happy to have ended up at Holy Trinity in Falls Church, VA which is just inside the DC beltway. It’s funny for me to end up in the city of DC after studying politics in undergrad and having dreams of working here in a very different capacity at one point. My project has been to start up a music and education class for pre-k and toddlers on Tuesday mornings. I’ve leaned a lot on my experience as a Intern at Easter in my work with them for sure. The people here are really nice and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and serve with them.
Personally there is one big update for me from seminary. During my first week orientation at seminary I sat down on a bus next to one of my new peers. We got into an argument about whether Minnesota Duluth or Maryland is the proper UMD (I think I won). Little did I know that I was meeting my now soon-to-be spouse Maddie Tallman. She is also studying to be a pastor (which is why finding internship was a little harder) and has a passion and love for liturgy and Spanish ministry. We are getting married with Pastor Sarah doing the officiating in August at the bible camp Maddie grew up going to and working at.
I hope everything is going well at Easter and that you’ve enjoyed this little update. I follow you on Facebook and get updates from my parents so I know that you are continuing to be the great expression of the gospel you always have been.
Peace, Corey Bergman