LSTC Learning Communities

What are Learning Communities?

The LSTC Learning Communities is a series of theological education programs, hosted in the spring and fall of each year, that were developed to enhance lay theological education, enrich parish learning programs, and build a stronger relationship between the seminary and its constituent congregations.

Launched in 2021-22, the program was created and steered by a group of LSTC volunteers supported by LSTC faculty.

Join the Learning Communities Series, Fall 2023

Faith, Work, and Economics

Headshot of Rev. Wayne N. Miller

We invite you to join us this fall for a remarkable 4-part series, sponsored by LSTC Learning Communities, that explores the topic, “Faith, Work, and Economics.” 

Rev. Wayne N. Miller will lead this dynamic course for 4 Sundays, beginning October 8 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. CST. Or you can join Wednesday’s session beginning October 11 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CST.

As Bishop Emeritus, Rev. Wayne N. Miller served bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, from 2007-2019. His administration was marked by a deep commitment, stemming from 23 years of congregational ministry, to help the congregations and communities of the synod to embrace renewal, growth, and positive change.  He has been an adjunct instructor of Christian Thought at Aurora University, a founding board member of Suicide Prevention Services of the Fox Valley, and a member and presenter for a special judicial commission on Domestic Violence in the Faith Community. From 2016-2018 he served as President of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, where he continues to serve on the Executive Committee. In addition to leading the synod program staff, he preached and taught regularly in the synod’s congregations and shared his perspective and insight in his column for the synod supplement in Living Lutheran

Whether bishop, pastor, follower, parishoner, or community member, join us as Rev. Miller takes us on an exploration of our relationship to our work, and guides us as we use faith, work, and economics as a lens for understanding ourselves, our world, and the secret of living life well.

Session Summary:
For most adults, the activity that consumes most of their waking hours is work. And the absence of meaningful work in our lives creates feelings of anxiety, and shame. But for many, the experience of work is also empty and exhausting, to the point that we often work for the sole purpose of being free from work.

Although we may speak of our work as our “vocation” only a few people experience work as a direct calling from God, or even as an expression of who we are as people of faith. And this disintegration of the relationship between our faith, our work, and our sense of participation with others in a sacred economy, conspires to undermine our mental, spiritual, relational, and physical well-being.

In this 4-part course, Retired ELCA Bishop, Wayne Miller, explores the Biblical and confessional underpinnings of the organic relationship between Faith, Work, and Economics as a lens for understanding ourselves, our world, and the secret of living life well.

Session 1: The Model
Sunday, October 8 
Wednesday, October 11 

We live in a fragmented existence that separates our faith from our daily life and alienates us from ourselves. This session will introduce a wholistic model for how to re-integrate Faith, Work, and Economics, leading us toward a fuller understanding of “vocation.”

Session 2: Connecting Faith and Work
Sunday, October 15 
Wednesday, October 18 

What is the nature of work? How does it appear in various arenas of our lives? All work is, in some fashion, an expression of morality and in order to understand this, we must also look at an important distinction between morality and ethics.

Session 3: Connecting Work with Economy
Sunday, October 22 
Wednesday, October 25 

Although work is often implemented individually, it is a fundamentally social endeavor. This week, we will ask: how do we go about the task of coordinating our individual work with the work of others to create an economy? What are the various economies in which we live and work?

Session 4: Connecting Various Economies with Faith
Sunday, October 29 
Wednesday, November 1 

This session sees Ethics as an expression of holding economic structures and activities accountable to basic principles and values of Faith. Together, we will ask: what is the specific role of the Church in leading the economy back into an ethical and satisfying arena for vocation?

Looking ahead to January 2024, we are excited to offer a session directed by the esteemed Professor of Theology and Anthropology; Director, Albert “Pete” Pero, Jr. and Cheryl Stewart Pero Center for Intersectionality Studies, Dr. Linda E. Thomas.

Theological Intersectionality for the 21st Century Church

Headshot of Linda E. Thomas

We invite you to join us for an invigorating 4-part series, sponsored by LSTC Learning Communities, that explores the topic of intersectionality. 

Dr. Thomas will lead this course for 4 Sundays, beginning January 7 from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. CST. Or you can join Wednesday’s session beginning January 10 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CST.

Dr. Linda E. Thomas is Professor of Theology and Anthropology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). Her research and teaching interests focus on cultural anthropology and its intersection with theology, ethics, and African-American and gender studies, with the aspiration to teach women and men to think critically, diversify their epistemological perspectives, and pursue social justice in a wide variety of contexts. In addition to fieldwork in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and the Caribbean, her publications include the books Under the Canopy: Ritual Process and Spiritual Resilience in South Africa (the University of South Carolina Press, 1999) and Living Stones in the Household of God: The Legacy and Future of Black Theology (Augsburg Fortress, 2004). She is also co-editor of the Palgrave Macmillan series “Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice” and was chosen to deliver the 2007 Taylor Lectures at Yale University.

Session Summary:
The concept of Intersectionality considers overlapping oppressions, such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ableism, and many other things, as they are experienced and suffered by marginalized persons. This concept is a vital tool to name multiple, intersecting oppressions for the systemic violence they cause and to propose solutions for a more just society. An example of applied Intersectionality would be naming the triple oppressions faced by a poor transgender woman of color. This woman would face discrimination based on her race, gender identity, and class from being exposed to the conditions of poverty. Thus, this 4-session course will explore Intersectionality to critique the ongoing oppressions of marginalized persons in the United States today. Special emphasis will be given to Intersectionality as it corresponds to Womanist theology, that is, theological reflections about God done from the lived experiences of Black women in the United States, in order to consider an anti-oppressionistic hermeneutic for the Trinity and parish life.

We encourage students, community members, leaders in faith, and members of the academy to join us!

Session 1: Introducing Intersectionality
Sunday, January 7 
Wednesday, January 10 

Session 2: Theological Intersectionality, Womanist Theology, and Anti-Oppressionistic Hermeneutic
Sunday, January 14 
Wednesday, January 17 

Session 3: Theological Intersectionality, Womanist Theology, and Anti-Oppressionistic Hermeneutic
Sunday, January 21 
Wednesday, January 24 

Session 4: Theological Intersectionality in the Parish
Sunday, January 28 
Wednesday, January 31 

We look forward to you joining us!

In April 2024, we are delighted to announce that Dr. Benjamin Stewart, the Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship will be leading a session on the relationship between liturgy and nature.

Liturgy and the Natural World

Headshot of Rev. Dr. Benjamin M. Stewart

We invite you to join us for an inspiring 4-part series, sponsored by LSTC Learning Communities, that explores the topic of nature and liturgy. 

Dr. Stewart will lead this course for 4 Sundays, beginning April 7 from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. CST. Or you can join Wednesdays beginning April 10 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CST.

Rev. Dr. Benjamin M. Stewart serves as Distinguished Affiliate Faculty at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and as Pastor to Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Two Harbors, Minnesota. A recent migrant to Duluth, Minnesota, Ben is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy and contributes to its Ecology and Liturgy Seminar. He is author of A Watered Garden: Christian Worship and Earth’s Ecology (2011).

Session Summary: 
According to the Bible, the universe is like a cosmic choir where stars sing for joy, trees clap their hands, and waters roar hymns of praise. Humans – among the youngest of earth’s species – are sometimes like latecomers to choir practice, learning from other creatures how to “join their unending hymn.” In this crucial ecological moment, we take a journey to four destinations to help us reimagine our communal liturgies and our daily rituals for the life of the world: the whole cosmos; the cycle of night and day; the sacraments; and our bodies themselves as sacred ground. 

We encourage all interested members of our community to join us!

Session 1: Trees Clap their Hands, Stars Sing for Joy
Sunday, April 7 
Wednesday, April 10 

How can humans find our appropriate place in the cosmic choir?

Session 2: Each Day is a Gift: Ancient and Contemporary Rituals for Sunrise, Sunset, and Night
Sunday, April 14 
Wednesday, April 17 

Did you know that the oldest Christian prayer outside the Bible is still sung as day turns to night in the Holden Evening Prayer?

Session 3: A Sacramental World: Baptism and Communion 
Sunday, April 21 
Wednesday, April 24 

How can baptism and communion lead us deeper into love for the earth?

Session 4: Earth to Earth: Theology and Spirituality of Green Funeral Practices 
Sunday, April 28
Wednesday, May 1 

What is the green burial movement, and how is it deepening Christian faith and practice related to death — and the life of the world to come?

How can I support LSTC Learning Communities?

As we continue the development of Learning Communities, your support is essential to reach the full potential of the program. 

Over the next two years we would like the Learning Communities to become fully self-funding and more significantly, potentially contributing to a scholarship fund for future seminarians and LSTC students. To realize this vision, we humbly request that you become a subscriber to LSTC Learning Communities by making a 3 year $100/year contribution. You can make your donation here.

To view instructions for mailing a check or other ways to donate, visit this page.

For more information on Learning Communities at LSTC, please visit our facebook page here. You can see the event on facebook here.

Back to top