Patrice Nordstrand: ‘Enjoy what you have, but share that with others’

Patrice Nordstrand

When Patrice Nordstrand was getting close to retirement, she shared the lesson she learned as a 6-year-old that prepared her for this next stage of life, as well as joy and purpose through all the years that preceded it.

Early on, she was encouraged to give 10 percent or more of her allowance to the church. And if she needed extra money for something she wanted, she was expected to earn it. That’s why, as a 9- or 10-year-old, she went door-to-door selling greeting cards.

“Work hard and enjoy what you have, but share that with others,” she recalls learning from her parents. Her father was ordained in the Augustana Synod, whose seminary was a predecessor to LSTC. Patrice is an LSTC grad, and among the first 100 women ordained in the Lutheran Church of America, a predecessor to the ELCA.

She has been chaplain at Walnut Village in Anaheim, Calif., the past 18 years, and throughout her years in the church her own stewardship has been shaped by “other people’s witness about giving.”

After being ordained in 1978 she recalls saying at a stewardship workshop that she’d been tithing all along, and was gently challenged: “Well you know, you don’t have to be limited by that.”

And now she’s sharing them, and her own witness for saving and giving. Her cousin Cyrus Warmanen, also an LSTC grad, taught her the 10-10-80 scale: 10 percent “things that are of God,” 10 percent savings for the future, and 80 percent is “enough for all you really need and much of what you want.”

“What I’ve decided to do is live on as closely to what my retirement generates every year so upon my death the remainder is returned to the church, and things the church does. It seems natural to me that since congregations and church organizations built this retirement for me, I trust that I can return it to the work of the church,” she said.

One of Nordstrand’s areas of benevolence is seminary and its students.

“I received a fine education at LSTC and am proud to be one of its graduates. I don’t know that I can be specific on something 20 to 30 years down the way, but in my giving I’m investing in the values, the organizations and the communities that I have shared values with.”

“I’m realistic about what changes can happen in an organization or institution,” she said. “The church has its ebb and flow about what to focus on, but is centered in Christ and I don’t think we get so far off that mark that I would look back and say ‘Boy I wish I had chosen some other institution.’ ”

She appreciates LSTC’s emphasis of a community that learns in place, rather than online, and that orders its life around daily worship.

“Public Church, more visible in society, is important to me. One reason I chose LSTC was that the seminary is in the city and I didn’t see it as a place to retreat from but as a place to interact with. That’s a strength.”

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