Public Church

Christopher Rajkumar explains LSTC public church

“Public Church is not an alternate ecclesiology to swap with the prevalent ecclesiologies; rather, it enables church leaders, clerics, and pews to search together for their existence and relevance theologically and ministerially by being and becoming a church/congregation ‘of’ all – church ‘for’ all.”

– Christopher Rajkumar, LSTC second year student


Public Church is grounded in the convictions of the Protestant Reformation and continues Luther’s legacy of challenging corruption, naming sin, living out of a theology of grace, sharing the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and moving beyond the public of church into multiple, intersecting publics. LSTC seeks to form attentive and contextually engaged ministerial leaders for a Public Church by creatively employing the skills of community building in ways that best serve the particular communities to which they are called.

With Public Church as the organizing principle for its MDiv, MAM and MA degree programs, LSTC equips students to address their initial “publics” – the worshiping communities and congregations of the ELCA and other denominations and ecumenical communities. After all, gathering around Word and Sacrament is a profoundly public act, rigorously engaged with multiple other publics. 


LSTC’s Public Church Curriculum has been recognized as one of the most innovative among North American seminaries by Convergence US.

MDiv, MA, and MAM students are encouraged to view seminary as a formative stage of their lifelong journey of learning and intentional cultivation of the skills, aptitudes, and experiences needed for leadership for a public church today. The curriculum takes each student’s strengths, experiences, and unique interests as a starting point. It further equips them with the skills, knowledge, and experiences they need to develop competencies in leadership for a public church.

Features of LSTC’s MDiv, MA, and MAM curricula include:

  • 5-9 required orienting courses (depending on degree) provide foundation and framework
  • Competency-based, with multiple pathways toward completion
  • Holistic approach to theological education that is rigorous, dialogical, and experiential
  • Action-reflection pedagogy that foregrounds learning in context
  • Interdisciplinary and integrative design and instruction of courses
  • Hundreds of courses available through the ACTS consortium
  • Chicago as your classroom


LSTC’s innovative Public Church Fellows program combines service at a community non-profit or social service organization with intentional small group reflection and faith formation. Combining service experience with academic course work creates Public Church Fellows who serve as leaders in the LSTC community and gain meaningful experience for ministry.

Public Church Fellows:

  • Serve seven hours a week during the academic year with a non-profit community partner
  • Develop learning objectives and goals with site coordinator
  • Establish relationships and mentorships with off-campus community partners
  • Participate in regular reflection and faith formation activities, including trainings and networking with seminarians from other institutions 
  • Lead within the LSTC community by supporting a broader conversation about public church, service and justice 
  • Receive a $500 monthly stipend during the academic year

Individuals are invited to apply to the program after receiving an offer of admission. All incoming master’s level students (MDiv, MAM, MA) are eligible, including part-time and commuter students. Ten incoming students are selected as Public Church Fellows every fall, which does not affect financial aid offers made at the time of admission. With the exception of internship, the fellowship is guaranteed for all years of study, assuming the fellow remains in good standing and chooses to continue in the program.

Public Church Fellows are engaged with a number of different organizations in the Chicago area that provide service in the fields of:

Aging & Elderly Homelessness & Housing 
Children & Youth Interfaith
Community OrganizingLGBTQ+
Domestic ViolencePoverty & Low-Income
EducationRefugees & Immigration
EnvironmentSocial Justice
Food JusticeVeterans

Email admissions@lstc.edu or call 773-256-0694.

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