Senior Pastor, New Hope Lutheran Church/Iglesia Luterana Nueva Esperanza in North Aurora, Ill.
How to get rid of chickens roosting in the sacristy!
What is an issue that you never imagined yourself dealing with as a pastor?
Racism. We often feel that our U.S. society is advanced and racism no longer exists, but we are ignorant to and/or ignore how it permeates our lives, culture, and even our church. It is difficult for me to see how racism has affected the lives of the people I have been in ministry with—from Inupiaq in Alaska, to Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica, to Mexicans and other Latinos in the Chicago area.
What are some of the most interesting or prominent changes you’ve seen in the church in your career or since you went to seminary?
A decrease in the intentionality of becoming an inclusive, multi-cultural church. I would like to see more support of ethnic ministries within our church. For example, there are no longer classes held in Spanish at the seminaries for Spanish-speaking student pastors.
What are your own spiritual practices? Where/to whom do you turn for guidance and encouragement?
I attend the Spanish worship service on Saturdays at the congregation my husband serves, San Andres Lutheran Church. The mostly Mexican congregation has a great love for the Virgin of Guadalupe (Mary). As a person firmly grounded in Lutheran tradition and faith, I have incorporated the Virgin into my spirituality and turn to her for guidance and encouragement. My Lutheran and Christian faith says that I only need to pray directly to God. I don’t need intercessors, though I find it comforting to ask the Virgin, as mother of our Lord Jesus and mother of all of us, to pray with me.
Who at Augsburg inspired or guided you, and how?
The whole religion department really inspired me, both academically and in my faith. Their classes were interesting and unique. The quality of the classes helped prepare me, even more than seminary, for ordained ministry. PQ2 (or Phil Quanbeck II), Janelle Bussert, and Lynne Lorenzen especially guided me by always being willing to lend an open ear to listen to my questions about my courses, future seminary plans, and just life in general. They are pastors who were my pastors and helped me become a pastor.
Is there a particular passage of scripture that frames your call to ministry?
I remember [Professor] Dick Hardel retelling the call of Isaiah to my Youth and Family Ministry class at Augsburg. After Isaiah said, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” I knew I was called to ministry and I also said, “Here I am, Lord, send me!”
What is one thing you wish non-clergy knew about your life/identity/call as a pastor?
A pastor is on call 24/7, which is really hard on your family life. It is even harder because my husband is a pastor, too. We have people wanting to talk to us starting at 7 a.m. and sometimes we even get calls at 3 a.m.
What is one of your most memorable services?
When I was a missionary in Costa Rica, one of the congregations I served was only youth and children. Holy Communion was always a powerful experience, as I watched sometimes 80 children come forward to the Lord’s table with their arms outstretched and their hands held out in front of them to receive the sacrament.
During a worship service, I noticed that one small boy came through the communion line twice. It was only after the service, I realized it was because he came from an impoverished family and was hungry. After that, I gave every child a whole tortilla, rather then a small piece of bread or a host, during communion.
What do you think you would be if you were not a pastor?
A religion professor at Augsburg or a first-grade teacher.
When you meet God, what do you hope God says to you?
Well done, good and faithful servant.