This summer, three 2010 Augsburg College alumni have been ordained to ministry and began their first calls as pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These Auggies (who also graduated from Luther Seminary in St. Paul in May of 2014) are: Michael Buller, Emily Wiles, and Peter Weston Miller.
We asked them to tell us about the congregation(s) where they serve, and what they are most energized about with their call. We are proud to celebrate their accomplishments, and we wish them well in their new vocations as pastors!
Michael Buller, Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Abercrombie, ND and Galchutt (pronounce Gal-Shoot) Lutheran Church in Galchutt, ND.
My role is solo pastor of a two point parish. I am very excited about this parish because they are in desperate need of new life. They are “mission re-development sites” which essentially means that they are on the verge of closing. I received mission re-development certification in the ELCA, so we could very well be a good fit for each other.
Since arriving I have discovered that there is a great deal of life in both Abercrombie and Galchutt proper and a great deal of life in the surrounding areas. For instance we have an educational farmstead near by called Crooked Lane Farms which is only 4 miles outside of Abercrombie. They have concerts during the summer, gardening classes, crafting classes, any many other activities; super cool stuff, and wonderful people.
In November of 2015 Emmanuel Lutheran will be celebrating 125 years of faithful ministry and we will be making it into a very big event. Finally the two churches tend the grounds of a third church building. St. John’s Lutheran church is located between Emmanuel and Galchutt and is the oldest Lutheran Church building in the Eastern North Dakota synod. We have a joint worship service there each year.
I have a website folks can look at to keep tabs on what I’m up to: it is www.facebook.com/pastormbuller. There are many other pictures and stories on this site.
Emily Wiles, Faith Lutheran Church in Avon, Indiana – rapidly growing suburb outside Indianapolis.
Faith is a small congregation with a tremendous level of mission and opportunity. We are currently seeking approval to build a new church building; about 5 years ago, Faith sold their large, mostly-unused church building in Indianapolis and moved to Avon, hoping to be Christ’s church in a growing community.
Things that I’m excited about include Faith’s people, their willingness to follow God’s call to new opportunities, and the dynamics of a small congregation setting roots in a new area. These people know how to do ministry within the walls of a church, and I’m excited to walk with them as we begin to do more ministry outside the walls. This is a congregation that feeds; they have a small but vital food pantry and always share monthly meals. The new church property resides on 35 acres: 22 of those acres are currently farmed and Faith visions a vital, viable community garden that supports their food pantry and its community.
My role has been set since the beginning, but is still forming; I’ve only been here a month. My call is to remind them that God loves them and provide resources and encouragement to do ministry together and individually.
Peter Weston Miller, Atonement Lutheran Church, New Brighton, MN
Atonement Lutheran Church in New Brighton has always been invested in transformation. Originally, Atonement was a mission start of the American Lutheran Church merger in 1960. For the first time, Lutherans agreed to merge across ethnic lines in order to create a new church body. (Prior to 1960, it had always been Germans uniting with Germans or Norwegians with Norwegians.) 19 other “Atonement Lutheran Church” were birthed in districts around the country. It was a bold strategy of the Lutheran church to put away cultural divisions and unify under the banner of God’s work in Jesus Christ, to always be made new.
Today, Atonement continues to serve and grow with a new population of local residents. There is an influx of young families and people see New Brighton as a hub that can get you anywhere in the Twin Cities. I love that Atonement has a history of experimentation and a commitment to transformation. It has an excellent preschool program for the neighborhood, as well as a variety of mission partnerships with local organizations and community churches. We also house a Nigerian Pentecostal worshiping community called Faith Community Church. Worship for us is a blend of contemporary, Southern Gospel barbershop, and traditional Lutheran liturgy. One of the central symbols of the church is its large font in the entry space. People love to gather here, reminded that they are marked with the promise of baptism to be a community that is moved and drawn by the Holy Spirit.