Gail Kenny: ‘LSTC was the right choice for me’
Gail Kenny, a third year MDiv student pursuing ordination in Word and Sacrament Ministry through the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA, believes the Holy Spirit drew her to LSTC. Born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin, she and her husband Mike have spent the last 36 years in Arizona. However, when considering a seminary to attend, it was apparent that LSTC was the right fit for her.
Kenny’s sense of call to ministry developed over the course of her life. She grew up in an LCA congregation (Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor church body to the ELCA) and continued to be active in her faith through campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. When she and Mike welcomed their son into the world in 1990, they also joined the leadership forming Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Clarkdale, Ariz. This was a formative experience, and she continued to serve on the council there for several years.
While in Arizona, Kenny initially worked in journalism, although she left that world after her disappointment over not being able to create any real social change. She then held several social service jobs, which felt closer to her calling. Even more formative in her discernment process, was joining Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Prescott Valley, Ariz., where she had the opportunity to craft liturgy and lead worship. Over the past decade, everything has felt like it has fallen together for Kenny: she’s recognized how her gifts in communication, social justice, and social service all contribute to her calling to serve the church.
It was the urban environment of LSTC that truly piqued Kenny’s interest to study here. Having spent most of her life in rural areas, she felt it was important to live in a different place and be surrounded by people who have varying backgrounds. She was also excited about the emphasis on public church curriculum LSTC offers. In fact, this semester Kenny is taking a class called “Vital Congregations, Vital Communities,” which focuses on helping congregations discover what their call to mission is. She can see what she’s going to be doing in ministry mirrored in that class; she believes we are quickly becoming a nation that is post-Christendom, and that a lot of what pastors will be doing in the next 10 years is revitalizing congregations. She also believes that it will take more than inspiring words on a Sunday morning to be a pastor, that being involved in the community and being service- and justice-oriented are just as important. That the church is “a place for all people to belong.”
Ultimately, Kenny is looking forward to making the most of this year on campus after spending the last two years online. She is hoping to immerse herself in the Hyde Park community and learn all that she can from LSTC’s “diverse, experienced” faculty before her internship next year. When reflecting on all the factors that initially drew her to this community and all that she has learned since, Kenny simply remarked, “LSTC was the right choice for me for so many reasons.”
By Lyndsay Monsen, an MDiv student, who is a student worker for the Marketing and Communications team.