Friends of Redeemer: Vicar Kevin Peterson

Nov. 6, 2019 Update
The Peterson Family

November 6


Another long break between letters, but I am thankful to give an update now. The past two months have had a lot of change in life at home as well as life as a vicar, but things are progressing ahead. The biggest news is that on September 27, our daughter Anastasia Agutu Peterson was born! She was 8 lbs and came about 3 weeks early! It was not what we expected but she does happen to look nearly identical to when her big sister Chelsea was a newborn! We call her Anna on a regular basis and she and Angie have stayed home since the birth. December is likely when she will venture out more and explore the big wide world. Chelsea loves being a big sister and loves kissing her head, hands, everything. The only thing she doesn’t like is when baby cries at night. One day that will pass....

Angie’s father ended up having his surgery at the same time Anna was born, due to the delivery coming so early. His aftercare has been going well along with no signs of cancer in his body, and now it is just a matter of regaining control of everything and doing the necessary physical therapy. They stayed at our house until one week ago when they went back to Minnesota to visit their sons up there. They will go back to Kenya permanently before the end of the month.

At my vicarage church of Blessed Savior I have preached a few more times, and we are still working our way through the highlights of each gospel for the Wednesday morning bible study. Some of this was due to me being unavailable on certain weeks and some of it was due to so much material people find interesting, that we don’t progress as much as I had originally expected!

I have also gotten to participate in a few funerals since the last update. One of these involved being in the hospital room when a member fell asleep in Jesus, with her family present after life support was removed. Being able to know how to act and conduct myself during such an emotional time was a very rewarding and helpful experience. I have also then assisted in some way with a funeral that only had a committal at the local veterans cemetery without a church service, and a church service funeral that was sparsely attended, with only one surviving child and no grandchildren. Each of these is a unique experience and opportunity for future funeral services I may conduct as a pastor, and I am thankful to be gaining these kinds of opportunities.

Last weekend I got to play the organ for the worship services, which is an activity I always enjoy! We are hoping to do this anytime there are five Sundays in a month, to enable both myself and the congregation to have me in a different role than always being up front. We are also going to begin one of my favorite traditions that I learned growing up, which is singing the Lord’s Prayer in a hymn-style setting anytime I am the organist for the weekend. This is something I experienced in my own home congregation growing up as a boy and teenager, and something I hope to bring to my own future parish someday too.

Looking ahead, I will be working on preparing for the Advent season during November, which is one of the busy times for pastors. I will be giving the sermons for the Wednesday evening services, which will require more research and preparation than during normal parts of the year. I will also be preparing an evangelism and outreach project per seminary requirements. My plan is to have a worship service of hope and encouragement, also during the Advent season. This is a type of worship I learned from my other home congregation, in Rochester, where they have a time of worship for people who aren’t feeling festive and joyful during an otherwise celebratory time of year. Perhaps it is the first Christmas without a loved one who died, or that a tragic anniversary occurs around this time of year, or any number of things. This type of service is for people to know it’s okay to have those feelings when it seems no one else does. Again this is another activity I would like to bring to my own future congregation one day.

Apologies that the updates haven’t been as frequent as in the past. I hope to fix that going forward in the months ahead. Blessings on your life journey as we prepare to give thanks this month for all that God has given to us, most especially eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ!

Vicar Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea, Anna

Dec. 17, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

December 17

Happy Advent! Hopefully you are enjoying this time contemplating and enjoying the arrival of Christ’s birth which we celebrate next week. It has been a busy time here in our family and on campus with classes just ending last Friday. Now finally I will have about six weeks off before the spring semester begins. It doesn’t feel real yet but it is a good feeling that the hustle and bustle of classes and papers will take a pause for a good chunk of time in order to rest and enjoy time with family.

Angie’s parents are still here with us and her father’s health appears to be going well! It looks like he does not need surgery of any kind at this point and that he is clear to stop medical treatment with a follow up visit in 5-6 months. This means they are free to return home to Kenya and come back in the spring to see how his prognosis is. All of us are happy about this and they are now actively looking at getting a return ticket to use the first part of January. They will spend Christmas here with us but are otherwise anxious to return back to their own home and see their family and friends who have missed them.

Chelsea’s vocabulary and play activities have really taken a step up since her birthday two months ago. She understands more abstract ideas and can follow commands that are slightly more com-plex. She goes absolutely ecstatic every time I come home from school at the end of the day, lov-ing to hug my legs tightly and play with her dad! She definitely understands things like Christmas this year and what symbols signify the holiday. She loves kissing and holding the baby Jesus from one of my nativity sets as well as rearranging the (rather large) number of figures for this collection. Several days I have to go back and rearrange them to how they are supposed to be, haha!

I recently started building up a collection of commentary books known as the Concordia commen-tary series, put out by Concordia Publishing House, the publisher of our church body. They are large royal blue books which go through each book of the Bible analyzing the original Greek and Hebrew text as well as providing theological and exegetical insight from the author that most people would not notice. They are an invaluable resource for pastors and nearly every Lutheran pastor I know has them on his shelf. They only have volumes for about half of the Bible books so far. They release two volumes per year so it will take a long time for the whole canon to be completed! Even though each Bible book is only a handful of pages, each commentary is several hundred pag-es long, with some being spread over two volumes, or even three. The most recent one to be re-leased at the end of November is the final third of the gospel of Matthew, written by one of our own exegetical teachers, Pastor Jeff Gibbs. Lots of pastors I know are very happy they now have his Matthew trilogy as a complete set on their shelves! I can tell these will provide valuable insight for preaching in the years to come. The next volume to be released this spring is the second half of 1 Kings. Not quite as exciting as Matthew but it is a good feeling having such in-depth study tools available at my fingertips!

The other exciting news coming up is that on Thursday December 20 Angie and I will have our vic-arage interview with Pastor Glenn Nielsen. This will be our chance to talk with him and share what our biggest priorities are in a vicarage setting and congregation. Our hope is to be able to stay local and work with a congregation in the St. Louis area, but we also understand it may not happen and are prepared to experience vicarage wherever God chooses to place me. It seems unreal that the academic journey to vicarage is 3/4 over! May 1 is the date when we will learn where we will be sent and that will be here before we know it!

Isaiah & the Prophets spent the majority of the class going through the book of Isaiah and analyzing several of the oracles within the book. We also discussed how strong a contrast there is between the warnings and judgments of the Israelite people at the beginning of the book with the restoration and mercy shown by God a the end of the book. Our final paper for that class focused on exactly that, noticing what types of differences occur between the beginning and ending chapters of Isaiah.

Pastoral Care ended with our class dividing into small groups for a live roleplay exercise. We each had to take turns being in the pastoral role as well as taking turns being in the parishioner role where we would come to the pastor with a problem (which was provided for us ahead of time.) The per-son in the pastoral role had to use the skills and techniques we learned to help uncover what was really troubling the ‘parishioner.’ It was a challenging but enjoyable exercise and we all understood how practice will make the skills easier to do. I can say this was my favorite class with certainty now, and I am very thankful to have been in Pastor Rockenbach’s class.

Systematics ended with discussing eschatology (study of the end of time) in which we discussed our Lutheran view that Christ will one day return, give a final judgment, and usher in the new heav-ens and new earth where we will physically live in resurrected bodies forever. We compared this with other church bodies that believe there will be a literal 1000 year reign of Christ before a final ultimate tribulation, a secret rapture of Christians prior to the 1000 years (think of the Left Behind books), and a handful of other views that believe there will be a special period set apart prior to the last day. Our final week of class focused on dying and funeral services. We discussed what hap-pens to the soul immediately after death, what a good funeral service is meant to capture, as well as the effectiveness of prayer. Again this class was also highly enjoyable and I am looking forward to seeing what topics we will cover in the spring semester systematics class.

History of the Reformation ended with writing three research papers on Luther and his influence on his immediate successors. We spent the final few class periods discussing other notable figures during this time period such as Henry VIII, John Calvin and the anabaptist movement. Pastor Dost thought our class did exceptionally well and was pleased with how our final papers turned out, say-ing we can feel free to take classes with him in the future.

At my field congregation I got to preach for a third time. This then would have been the first ser-mon I created that wasn’t a class assignment from the preaching class last spring. The text was the whole first chapter of Mark, since Pastor Femmel wanted to spend the four Sundays of Advent go-ing through the first chapter of each gospel, and Mark is the one I got. I spent a lot of time putting it together and am pleased with the final manuscript. The actual delivery didn’t go as well as I had hoped for either service but thankfully for the service which got recorded, nobody else but me would have noticed what went wrong. You can listen to it by going to

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, as always. May the awe of God becoming flesh and be-ing among us inspire and awe you throughout Advent and into Christmas.

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

Nov. 7, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

November 7

Another month has gone by! It has been very busy despite having a week off from school during the midway point of the semester. Hard to believe the entire school year is over a quarter finished! We have stayed busy with Angie’s parents here in the home as her father’s health continues to im-prove due to regular physical therapy appointments and injections. We are glad there have been no complications and just this past weekend they traveled to Minnesota to spend time with their two sons there for a couple weeks. They will come back after that time for some final appointments and checkups before departing permanently. This means they will get to enjoy Thanksgiving (a holiday they do not have in Kenya) with our family, whatever our plans will be.

Chelsea had a birthday on October 19 and it was fun having both sets of grandparents present to celebrate with her! My parents and sister came for a long weekend in the middle of October and we all enjoyed the company as well as getting to introduce them to a St. Louis favorite, Fitz’s res-taurant, where they bottle and craft their own soda right in house. We were all hoping to have some of their famous ice cream too but we were too full after our delicious meal! Next time.... Chelsea is definitely acting more like a little girl than a toddler these days, with her vocabulary continuing to increase and the things she is able to pick up and notice that she wouldn’t have noticed before. It’s exciting seeing these milestones approach! Chelsea also had her first trick or treat experience in the neighborhood this Halloween, and she was dressed as a bumblebee. She didn’t want to walk so I had to carry her, but she enjoyed getting candy placed in her bucket.

The Exodus & Torah class ended, since most exegetical classes are only half a semester long. Now in its place I have a class on Isaiah & the Prophets, also with Pastor Tom Egger. We will read through the minor prophets (Hosea on through to the end of the Old Testament) in English as well as several portions of Isaiah. Two papers we will write in the class will focus on how the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer can be found both throughout the minor prophets as well as in Isaiah. We will not discuss all the minor prophets in class but the first two sessions we did talk about Amos, and now this week we talked about some of the ways Isaiah as a whole book can be broken up and classified. It is a big and complex book with many familiar biblical passages. One reason it may be so familiar is that approximately 1/3 of the Old Testament readings in the lectionary for any giv-en year come from Isaiah.

The Pastoral Care class is probably my favorite class this semester. Every session I always enjoy learning the ‘behind-the-scenes’ scenarios pastors may face when caring for people, and the pitfalls they can fall into that an average person may not be aware of. We finished our sessions on wed-dings and then moved on to funerals, creating a mock funeral sermon in the process. We discussed how to best care for people during that difficult time as well as during times of crisis before moving on to the concept of ‘idol worship’. This refers to when people come to their pastor with a prob-lem, typically there is something in their own heart they are wanting to satisfy at all costs, and part of our job is to help them see what it is and work on that. During our last session we discussed when a pastor puts someone under the ‘minor ban of the church’ in which he declares the person cannot take communion at the present time due to unrepentant sin, and also discussed the Seal of the Office of Holy Ministry. This refers to the confidentiality pastors vow to never repeat sins which are confessed to them, even in legal matters which could result in jail time. I really appreci-ate Pastor Rockenbach’s calm but knowledgeable approach in these areas. It is very apparent how using the right tools to care for people in a godly way is important to him. Each session leaves me with a wealth of understanding how to approach difficult situations pastors will face in their minis-try.

Systematics just finished a unit on us as creatures being male and female, and how the complemen-tarian relationship between the two is the way God designed it. This includes how each Christian marriage should follow the model of the husband as the head with the wife as the helper, just as Christ is the head of the church and the church gladly following His lead. We discussed how this does not mean the husband makes every decision with the wife going along with everything he says, but that it does fit in with staying in the grooves we were each originally designed for before sin came into the world. This is a very controversial topic which is an uphill battle to fight when dealing with the outside world. Feminism and the gay rights movement are two examples of forces actively at work wanting to destroy this concept. Now this week we have been discussing the con-cept of justification, the biggest issue Luther and his followers had during the time of the refor-mation. We are discussing how our Lutheran view differs so greatly from every other church body. Pastor Biermann taught the male female lectures and since I am also in his individual section I have gotten to hear his knowledge quite a bit in this class. He speaks fast but he is also so incredibly knowledgeable that it makes it easy for students to want to push themselves to grow theologically and become as passionate about the material as he is. He and Pastor Rockenbach in the counseling class have very different approaches but I feel like it gives me the best of both worlds. I would highly encourage any future seminary students to take as many classes with either of them as they can!

History of the Reformation class has gotten us up to the death of Luther and now we are just start-ing in with some of the conflicts that arose in Germany and the rest of Europe after that time. The early Lutherans had problems of their own and couldn’t always agree on what Luther meant with various concepts or what he would have said on a topic were he still alive. Pastor Dost was nice enough to invite everyone in the class to dinner at his house, scattered over a few evenings, during the past few weeks. Angie and I went last weekend and we both enjoyed it; the food was delicious! It was our first evening out just as a couple in a long time and having social time with other adults was very enjoyable. He is a very quick-witted person so we never knew what kind of one-liners or comebacks he would be sharing, and it made for a humorous and enjoyable evening!

At Zion in Maryland Heights I have continued to perform the liturgy on a regular basis. I will have my third opportunity to preach the first Sunday of December. Pastor Femmel wants to spend the four Sundays in Advent going through the first chapter in each gospel, so the one I will have will focus on Mark 1. I have been brainstorming ideas and concepts and am just now starting to write down a manuscript. It will be nice seeing it all come together over the next month!

This has still been a busy semester, I feel like there’s always something more to do. But as I have mentioned earlier it is all worth it and all is valuable to the pastoral formation process. We hope you are enjoying the change in seasons and are looking forward to being thankful towards what God has given you in your life during the month of November.

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

Oct. 8, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

October 8

It has been a busy first month of school and I was not able to get my monthly letter out as promptly as I had hoped! I have found the set of classes, two in particular, contain a lot more reading than any of the classes last year (which also contained considerable amounts of reading in their own right.) I know it is all useful knowledge and information, however, and that my time hasn’t been spent in vain.

It has been a different dynamic at home as well, with Angie’s parents still here visiting with us. We have now settled into a routine with Chelsea going to daycare twice a week and grandparents taking care of her the other three days. Angie’s father has had a few physical therapy appointments and learned a variety of exercises which he has been good at implementing twice a day, per instruc-tions. From what he says they seem to be helping so now it’s a matter of slow but sure progress towards less pain and more flexibility for him. They are hoping to make a trip to Minnesota to visit their two sons up there sometime later this month, but will ultimately be staying in this country most likely until December or January.

Chelsea has been continuing to grow more independent and used the potty successfully while at daycare! I have yet to witness it at home but it’s good there’s progress made in that area. She has also been getting slowly better at feeding herself bites for meals rather than being fed all the time. A few weekends ago we all went to the St. Louis science center as a family, and then last weekend we went to Big Joel’s farm, a petting zoo on a family homestead that we had visited almost exactly a year ago. It was fun seeing her interact with the animals more actively this time, being a year old-er. Angie continues doing her best at her job and recently attended a dinner meeting for medical professionals to learn new developments in her area over a fine meal.

The Exodus & Torah class has now been focused entirely on the book of Exodus after week 1. We have discussed the structure of the book, themes in the book that show God’s character compared to that of Pharaoh, how God revealed himself to Moses in ways he had not previously revealed to Abraham and the other Genesis characters, and how the instructions for God’s people to build a tabernacle for him ultimately finds its completion in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of God truly being among his people, coming directly to them in their midst, with the building of the taber-nacle in Exodus being a forerunner of that. We have also been translating and quizzed on certain Hebrew passages in Exodus.

The Pastoral Care class has had us do a lot of practical exercises, both inside and outside of class, dealing with listening. We have learned how to actively listen to others who come to share personal stories as well as techniques to ensure we are understanding them correctly and to provide the best care for them as we help them work through their problem. We have also had some very interest-ing discussions regarding premarital counseling and possible high-stress issues we may face as pas-tors, such as infidelity within a marriage. We were required to become certified in a particular brand of marriage counseling, called SYMBIS, and find an engaged couple that we can discuss a SYMBIS assessment with. Over the next couple weeks I will finish my mini counseling sessions with them as well as write a wedding sermon for them as if I was the one officiating their wedding. We also discussed the role the pastor plays in coordinating a smooth and reverent wedding ceremo-ny, and in the second half of the semester we will begin discussing the pastor’s role during funerals.

Systematics has been divided into ‘units’ with each of the three teachers lecturing on one particular unit, followed by us dividing into smaller groups to review and debrief what was discussed (I am in the smaller group with Pastor Biermann). We started by a bit of review from last year regarding the trinity, then moved on to understanding what it means to be a creature within God’s creation, how to respect and be good stewards of creation, what role science plays in our theology and how to spot when science oversteps its bounds, and right now we are in the middle of discussing what makes human life special and sacred among God’s creatures. This topic has far reaching implica-tions with regards to how we view issues like cloning, euthanasia, and what it means to be ‘in the image’ of God.

History of the Reformation has had us do a lot of reading from Martin Luther’s exhaustive body of work. His more famous works that we have covered so far are the 95 Theses, the Heidelberg Dis-putation, Freedom of a Christian, the Babylonian Captivity of the Church and How Christians Should Regard Moses. That last selection of course fits in nicely with the content of my Exodus class. While class discussion often goes in a variety of unexpected and unpredictable ways, it has been nice learning some of the extra context that caused Luther to write as well as some of the competing views by his contemporaries and earlier church fathers in history. We are also reading a small but succinct biography of Luther written by one of our other history teachers, Pastor Paul Robinson (my intro to history teacher from last year.)

At my field congregation of Zion Lutheran I have led liturgy two times since the school year began. Pastor Femmel and I met this past week to visit over coffee, discuss odds and ends things regarding theology, parish life and seminary life, and brainstorm ideas for what I can do this upcoming year. I have not yet preached since my two opportunities this summer but I’m sure we will work out a date to do so yet this semester.

Two final highlights for me are how last week I attended the first of four lectures throughout the month of October given by Pastor David Lewis, one of my teacher from last year, on his favorite topic, Christ and theology in movies. Being a huge movie lover myself I knew I had to sign up. Last week’s presentation was on biblical movies in general, and how oftentimes the filmmakers take liberties and artistic license with the original story. We spent most of our time focusing on the film The Ten Commandments, and how almost the entire 3.5 hour narrative is completely made up. Only the final sections of the film are based on the Exodus narrative but even there certain scenes were composited or drawn from other biblical events. Because of this, he pointed out that many people think they know how familiar bible stories occurred but in fact what they know is how they were portrayed in popular movies. I am really looking forward to the three remaining lectures in this series this month.

The other big highlight was getting to have our first large class meeting regarding vicarage, next year’s yearlong internship, with the campus vicarage director, Pastor Glenn Nielsen. He shared how the process will work with us each getting to know him throughout this year, what factors we consider most important in where we hope to get placed, and how he ultimately makes his recom-mendation on our behalf to the council of presidents, who in turn decide where each of us will have our vicarage next year. We will have a few more large group meetings with him throughout the school year discussing various aspects of the vicarage experience, along with an individual meeting with him over Christmas break.

It’s hard to believe all of this has occurred in just over a month’s time. The semester is going really fast with midterm break just one week away. Thanks to everyone for prayers, support and encour-agement continuing through this process!

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

Sep 3, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

September 3

Happy Labor Day! Classes started last week and after one full week, we now get a long weekend. It was really great being on campus on a regular basis again and seeing how classmates spent their summer. It looks like this will be a busy semester with a couple classes in particular taking up a lot of our time, but it will all be worth it!

The summer, too, has been busy and eventful for me and our family. Chelsea completed her swim class and we chose to sign her up again to get her more familiar with the routines and things they do. I could see an improvement and we agree that next year she will be ready to advance to the next level. She also went to story time at the library once a week and although she was shy and hesi-tant to participate in the singalong songs and crafts, she finally started to come around right around the time I couldn’t take her any-more due to other commitments. But it was nice seeing her make progress in that regard. The three of us also spent an evening this summer at the local Chik fil a where a special appearance was made by Cinderella! Chelsea has some rubber Disney princess dolls, and we knew she had to bring her Cinderella doll along. She got some nice pictures with the real life princess and even offered to give her doll to her, haha! Chelsea also came along to vacation bible school at my field congregation of Zion Maryland Heights, since I was asked to follow Pastor Femmel around as he led his bible activities for the different age groups each day. That kind of high energy church activity was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time, probably not since my days of working at summer bible camp in 1999 and 2000.

The other big highlight in our household this summer is that Angie’s parents have come to visit from Kenya, arriving at the begin-ning of August. Her father has some health issues which everyone agreed would be better treated here in America than back there, so they have been staying with us since that time. He hasn’t started a regimen yet but at this point the plan is for him to do physical therapy along with some injections in the back as opposed to surgery, which was the original plan. She has really enjoyed seeing them again and we both like the added help with watching Chelsea, now that Angie and I are both in full time work and school mode. Two weeks after her parents arrived, Angie’s sister, her husband, and their two young children also visited for two weeks. This gave us two weeks of six adults and three children under six under one roof! It was nice getting to show them all my school campus as well as the American culture and landscape but also made for a much different household than what we are used to! They have now returned to Kenya safe and sound, and last but not least, Angie’s eldest brother from Minnesota drove down for a long weekend this weekend to see his parents, accompanied by his daughter and girlfriend. This was his first visit since we moved here a year ago and it was nice to show them our new home and lifestyle.

On a personal level, the other big highlight for me this summer was making a trip to Minnesota, my first since moving to Missouri, in the early part of August. In some ways it felt like I had just left yesterday and in others I could tell much had changed, with a lot more education and experience under my belt. I spent the first two nights in Rochester and got to see friends from when we lived there in addition to seeing my home congregation of Redeemer Lutheran and people we know there. I also managed to preach a sermon at Trinity Lutheran in Elgin, a congregation outside of Rochester where I used to play organ once a month. Then I drove and spent a day in the twin cities and was able to visit my sister. This then followed with driving two hours west to the western side of Minnesota to visit my parents in my hometown of Renville. Throughout all this I also managed to see all but one of my adopt a student sponsors as a seminary student. I got to meet with two separate individuals and two congregations during my travels who have been paired up with me by the financial aid office. After sending these updates to them for the past year it has been nice getting to put faces and personalities with all of them and for them to do the same with me. All in all it was a very relaxing and rejuvenating time away, just what I needed, and very encouraging to meet with everyone who is thankful to be helping me in this journey.

With one full week down of class I now have a basic idea of what each class will be like. Just as with the fall semester of last year, I will be having one class in each category. The exegetical class is Exodus and the Torah with Pastor Tom Egger. We spent this past week covering the book of Genesis and then the whole rest of the class will be devoted to the book of Exodus rather focusing on the other three books that make up the Pentateuch. His PhD work is focused on the book of Exodus so it makes sense he would want to devote the class to this material. We will be translating a few verses from Hebrew prior to each class and then quizzed to see how will we can explain our translations.

The practical class this semester is Pastoral Care & the Word with Pastor Mark Rockenbach. This will be focused on the counseling aspect of the pastoral position, both in situations where a parishoner comes to the pastor for counsel and where the pastor opts to approach them as a helpful resource. We will be doing a lot of in class role playing honing these skills in small groups as well as attending some private sessions on our own with an actual counselor, as well as learning how to write sermons for weddings and funerals. I am glad to be having him as my teacher for this class; I have heard him speak as a guest lecturer periodically last year and have really valued his knowledge and expertise. In addition, he is one of two teachers on campus who also possesses an active license as a psychologist, giving what he says several dimensions as to how to best help people. In fact, I suspect this may be my favorite class as this semester goes on. Time will tell!

For systematics the class is simply titled Systematics I. It is team taught as one large group, with three teachers taking turns on who will cover what topic. Periodically we will break up into smaller groups and the teacher I will have on those occasions is Pastor Joel Biermann. I am also very glad to be in his section, as many pastors I know have said to take as many classes with him as possible. I have heard him speak as a guest lecturer as well, in addition to listening to some prerecorded classes he has done which are availa-ble online. I could tell early on that he is a wealth of information and really knows his stuff. This class will cover many topics un-der the broad umbrella of God’s story from creating all things to establishing the new heavens and new earth. Topics will include the trinity, caring for God’s creation, what it means to be a human creature created by God, and how to care for those who are dying as we await the last day.

Lastly is history, and its class is History of the Reformation and the Lutheran Church with Pastor Tim Dost. The first half of the class appears to cover the life of Martin Luther as his theology and worldview changed from being a monk to a professor and finally to a reformer, while the second half of the class will cover Luther’s theology and how his successors defended and organized his teachings after his death. This past week we have actually discussed the Greek philosophers of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and how their influence wove its way into western thinking by the time of Luther.

Just as last year, students take a language lab if they are not enrolled in a class based on a particular biblical testament. This means I have a Greek lab once a week with Pastor Mark Seifrid. I had him as a teacher for a couple classes last year, and for this lab we will be looking at a few verses in the book of Acts each week and examining what possible translations can be derived from looking at the Greek text.

At Zion in Maryland Heights, besides helping with vacation bible school I also had two opportunities to preach! My very first time preaching a sermon, the first one I wrote for class, was in early July and comes from 2 Corinthians 12, discussing Paul’s thorn in the flesh. The second sermon was in mid August and from 1 Kings 19, discussing Elijah fleeing from the wicked queen who wants his life. It was exciting getting to finally share the Word of God orally to a congregation, and to think about how the task seemed so daunting when starting my first preaching class last winter. It will be exciting to see what other preaching opportunities come up this year. I also have been able to lead liturgy there as well as sub as an organist periodically too. Go to to hear an audio recording of sermon #1 and for a recording of sermon #2.

All in all it has been a very busy summer but an enjoyable one and now a busy year up ahead. I have no doubt despite the challeng-es it will be enjoyable as well as I continue this process of pastoral formation and knowledge. Thank you for your support; whether I was able to see you in person this summer or not know that I do appreciate your concern and care every step of the way.

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

May 4, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

May 4

The end of the school year is in sight! Sometimes it feels like it should be and other times it feels like we only just began. April has been a busy month between tests, presentations, as well as having several full weekends. The highlight for the weekends for me was at the beginning of April when a group of students took a three hour road trip to a state park in western Indiana to meet up with a similar group of students from our sister campus, Concordia Theological seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. This was a lot of fun for us to get to meet some of the other students studying to be pastors in our church body that we otherwise would never get to know. We spent several hours visiting, com-paring notes on seminary life, and asking questions about each other’s classes, campus and teachers to get a fuller picture of what life is like for the other group. Hopefully this tradition will continue in the years to come!

Later in the month was the call day services for the second and fourth year students. Second year students now know where they will spend next year on their vicarage (in-ternship), and the fourth years found out what congregation they will go to as new pas-tors. It was exciting to watch and share in the joy of these ‘older brothers’ I have gotten to know and congratulate them. Everyone I have talked to seems pleased with where they are sent! Next year it will be my turn....

The Synoptic Gospels class has been quite enjoyable, we have discussed what makes the gospels unique among other literature as well as what the three synoptics have in common with John, where they differentiate, as well as what differences and similarities they have among each other. We also discussed the various theories other theologians and church bodies use as to which gospel they believe was written first plus some hypo-thetical documents that, according to others, were the original sources for the four gos-pels we have today.

Intro to Practical Theology has spent this month dividing our section into small groups to give group presentations on mock situations we might come across and how to go through the four step process we learned in handling them. My group presented last week and we imagined we were in charge of a youth group watching a movie (we picked Coco), and explaining how we would steer the conversation using the four steps we learned to get the youth to reflect on the different themes and topics presented in the film. I was in charge of explaining step 1, and so I presented to the class the theme of the movie as well as referencing a journal article from another staff member on film theory and how different character types are portrayed in films.

Homiletics has had us turn in both sermons for the class, now, and this past week we went through our reflections on Walther’s Law & Gospel book. We were asked to come up with issues we found confusing or disagreed with, and so Pastor Peter has been able to address those with us. Next week we will start delivering one of the two sermons we wrote in front of the class. We will record them and then go over how our delivery went, with the recording being ours to keep.

Creeds & Confessions has kept working through various parts of the Book of Concord. Today we discussed the office of ministry and the parts that are essential and nonessen-tial in this process. We discussed what makes our understanding of what makes a pastor a pastor different from both the Roman Catholic side and the Evangelical Protestant side.

At my field congregation, Pastor Femmel invited our family over to his house a couple weeks ago for fellowship and dinner, along with the second year student who also at-tends there. This was a nice chance for our three families to talk shop and enjoy each other’s company, as well as congratulate him on learning about his vicarage assignment (he will be staying local.) Now with him being gone next year I might be the only stu-dent attending there in the upcoming year or perhaps we will get a new first year student as well. Time will tell on that one.

At the Lutheran Senior Services nursing home I still assist with the weekly Sunday ser-vice in the afternoons. I’ve gotten to recognize several of the faces who frequently at-tend and hopefully I will get to participate in other activities there during the summer.

As always, thanks for continued prayers, encouragement and support. I still know this is the right path for me to take and have enjoyed what I have gotten to learn and absorb here so far. Sometime in the summer we will make a trip to Minnesota to visit friends and family. Once we know for sure when it will be I will keep those of you in that area updated. To God be the glory!

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

Apr. 3, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

April 3

Friends — Christ has risen! Hopefully you all have had a blessed and contemplative Lenten season and now are able to rest in the assurance that Good Friday was not the end of the story, but that our Lord Jesus lives and has conquered death forever! My family and I chose to attend Easter services at Zion Lutheran in St. Charles, which is closer than my field congregation of Zion Maryland Heights, and it was great being surrounded by a big group of people who were there for those same reasons. Later that day we went to the Easter potluck meal organized by other students. There was lots of food and fellowship by all of us who were there.

Earlier in the month we had our midterm break week and my family and I went on a vacation to San Antonio. We had never been to Texas before but really enjoyed ourselves between the hospi-tality, the picturesque river walk, the Alamo, and (a personal favorite for me), seeing the Lyndon Johnson museum in Austin. I have had an affinity for our country’s presidents since middle school, so I knew that was the one thing I wanted to see. This now makes the 5th presidential mu-seum we have been to, I believe. It was also the first domestic vacation we have taken since be-coming parents, one which was not spurred by a work conference for Angie. So she said she great-ly appreciated not having any set agenda but getting to just take in the sights, the three of us, as we used to when it was just the two of us. Another personal highlight was getting to visit with a pastor friend I hadn’t seen in over 15 years, someone I knew from my days as a student at Bethany Lu-theran College in Mankato when he was the dean of students.

Most exegetical classes are only half a semester long, so my Letters of Paul class is now over. For the rest of the semester, then, I will have a class on the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), with Pastor David Lewis. We have only had one class period so far but I think I am really going to enjoy his approach in delivering the material. We talked about what makes these three gospels dif-ferent from John, what the four all have in common, as well as what ways the three are different from each other. We will explore these more in depth as time goes on, with most of our focus be-ing on Luke and briefly touching on Matthew and Mark at the end.

Intro to Practical Theology has been focusing on examining ‘case studies.’ This involves us being given a certain scenario of something that happened within a church setting, why it happened, and asking us to reflect on whether it was a good idea or not. There is a specific four step process we are supposed to use in arriving at our conclusions, and now over the next month we will be working on a small group project creating a case of our own and presenting to the class how we would han-dle such a situation were we engaged with it in a real-world manner.

Homiletics has been walking us through the various aspects of preparing and delivering a sermon. In particular we have focused on how to preach the law in a sermon (for people who aren’t con-victed of the seriousness of their sin), how to preach the gospel (for those who are burdened by their sin and need assurance of forgiveness), and how to preach on sanctification (how people can and should act after receiving the gospel, now motivated to strengthen their walk with God and with others around them.) We will also turn in the transcript for our first sermon assignment on Thurs-day, and will begin work on our second one then as well. Between the two, we will then choose one of them to present orally to the class during the final week of the term. In addition, it will be my turn to give a five minute devotional, a mini sermon, on Monday of next week.

Creeds & Confessions has had us discussing several major points of controversy over the centuries. We discussed the errors of Arius (who believed that Jesus must have been a lesser being than God the Father, that they weren’t of equal glory), as well as the errors of Nestorius (who tried to correct Arius’s error by keeping Jesus’ two natures entirely separate, emphasizing that only Jesus’ divine nature did certain things and only his human nature did other things), in addition to the controversy over whether the body and blood of Christ is actually present in holy communion and why some theologians and church bodies believe it isn’t, and now have gotten to the topic of original sin and to what degree sin has infected our character and essence as humans. All very fascinating! Just today the teacher mentioned how most people tend to either love reading our Book of Concord be-cause it is so precise and organized that it leaves no doubt what exactly is being taught, or they hate it because it can come off as dry, boring and sterile. Hopefully no Lutheran pastors fall into the second group! That’s where those of us who really enjoy it have the job of explaining and present-ing it to those who find it a burden.

Hebrew lab recently covered the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel as well as the story of David & Goli-ath, as we continue to try and hit each type of genre of writing in the Old Testament.

At my field congregation of Zion Lutheran in Maryland Heights, Pastor Femmel has made a point to meet with me and the second year student there once a month to discuss life, theology, and give us a chance to think about how we might answer questions we will come across as pastors. The last time we met, towards the beginning of March, was a very insightful discussion, including going into detail regarding the flaws in evolutionary theory.

At the Lutheran Senior Services nursing home I have continued to assist with the afternoon chapel service by reading a lesson or two, offering the benediction and being a friendly face as the resi-dents come in and out. It’s touching how such a small act seems to make the day of several people there.

We are now in the home stretch of finishing year 1! It’s hard to believe; it’s been time-consuming and challenging at times to meet all the deadlines and balance the different vocations that come with being a student, spouse and parent, but it also has been a year of encouraging growth. Thanks for the encouragement and well-wishes, I always enjoy feedback when the letters go out letting me know you’re thinking of all of us. God’s blessings as you enjoy the feast of this Easter season!

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

Mar. 2, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

March 2

Friends — The new semester is now in full swing and the weather is taking an upturn as well! Yesterday was my birthday, which was enjoyable. It might be the first time I’ve had weather in the 50s on March 1, so that was a pleasant experience. The three of us had a pretty typical evening at home but we did have some ice cream cake as well. Chelsea is adding more words to her vocabulary including saying ‘yes’ instead of just ‘yeah’ and can say some small complete sentences. Early in the month the three of us went to see Disney on ice downtown at the Scottrade center, which was fun! Lots of kids, and the highlight for them all was the segment for the movie Frozen (which gets watched at least every other day in this house.) We got her a flashy wand that has a snowflake at the end and which lights up, and she loves being chased around the house by me while I’m carrying it. That gets me some good exercise!

In the Letters of Paul class we have been working our way through his portion of the New Testament, sometimes spending one class period per letter and other times two periods per letter. We just finished Romans, which is certainly the most major of them all, and have also done 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians. We read a book written by the author of the class, Pastor Seifrid called Christ Our Righteousness which has a very Lutheran view of Pauline justification and theology, and also focuses heavily on Romans. It was written before he became a Lutheran when he was teaching at a Baptist seminary in Kentucky. I asked him if there was anything in it he no longer agreed with and he said no, that his was a gradual conversion but by the time he wrote the book he was basically a Lutheran already.

Intro to Practical Theology has been focusing a lot on missions as well as how the approach pastors and lay people should take with regards to making church and the faith more appealing nowadays in a society where it no longer has the influence it once did. Rather than being a cause for despair, Pastor Haupt sees it as returning to the years of the early early church, before Constantine, when the church still grew and attracted new people despite not having the support of the government or civil realm. We also briefly talked about other approaches other church bodies have done with regards to this. On one side there is the ‘fad church’ where people believe the church needs to adapt and change to the culture in order to be relevant, and that if the culture goes a certain way, the church should follow. A common example would be churches with rainbow flags decorating the worship space. Another example would be adopting the pattern of whatever the most relevant mainstream theological book is, such as how the Purpose Driven Life was 10 years ago. On the far opposite side of the spectrum are groups that want to be so countercultural that by virtue of doing this they end up standing out from the crowd and attracting people because of it. The example we discussed were those in the Greek Orthodox church who insist on long beards, having liturgy in Greek, formal vestments for the clergy, etc.

Homiletics has brought us slowly from understanding the theory behind preaching to the process of crafting sermons. We have discussed how to take a certain biblical text, look at the original language to get the main thrust of each sentence, followed by determining what theological point is being made here. From then the task is to take that point and apply it to the audience in the pews, including considering all the age groups and diverse backgrounds of people who will be there. This week we began a practice where one student in the class leads a 5 minute opening devotion on a passage of their choice as a ‘mini sermon.’ Two people have gone so far, but my date isn’t until the beginning of April so that gives me a lot more time to prepare what I want to say! Along with this I have been working my way through the book Law & Gospel by C.F.W. Walther, a book that every serious Lutheran theologian has read at least once. It is a series of lectures given in the 1880s on how to make sure that preaching utilizes both concepts but does them in the proper way that the hearers will not confuse them for each other. We will discuss the book together as a class in mid April. I had certainly heard of it but had never read it, and was concerned it was going to be very dry and difficult to read since it was written so long ago. So far I have been pleasantly surprised that it seems to be presented in an easy-to-understand format. There have been several sentences in each chapter that really capitalize on his key concepts.

Creeds & Confessions has been bringing us through the three ecumenical creeds as well as portions of the small and large catechisms. Most recently we discussed what it means to say God created all we see in the first article, including ourselves, what it means to say God begat a son in the second article, and how the Holy Spirit proceeds, as described in the third article. We spent time focusing on Arius who tried to resolve these conflicts (but was wrong), and then just today we focused on the long Athanasian creed and how it uses language to answer specific issues regarding the trinity. I can say this is still my favorite class this semester, so I always look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays when it takes place.

Hebrew lab has been focusing on reading text from each of the different types of texts in the Old Testament. We started in Exodus and Leviticus followed by Deuteronomy and Joshua, and coming up we will focus on passages from Psalms, Proverbs and one or two prophets.

At Zion Lutheran I led liturgy during service again just last Sunday, and Pastor Femmel said I did an excellent job with the readings, really nailing how to deliver them for dramatic effect. It’s a good feeling to know he is seeing improvement! This month they also voted overwhelmingly to move forward with putting a coffee shop in the basement of the church. They see this as an opportunity to fill a niche since it is in a very business-heavy neighborhood with no coffee shops for miles, and that the church is situated on a heavily driven road. Pastor also sees it as a way for people to ‘invite someone to church without inviting them to church’ since he mentioned how that approach rarely works anymore.

Lastly I have begun helping with my institutional assignment, at a Lutheran Senior Services nursing home quite close to my house. The chaplain there is Pastor Dave Stratmann, and I can tell how this is a good environment for him to serve in, having a calm and peaceful demeanor. So far I have assisted with two Sunday afternoon services, and at the most recent this involved helping with monthly communion. Pastor gave the bread while I gave the wine, and some of the residents cherished receiving it so much, that it became an emotional time for me, the assistant. The residents I have met have been quite a friendly bunch and I am looking forward to getting to know them better in the upcoming weeks.

Thanks again for prayers and friendly reminders that you are thinking of us. It is a joy getting to share progress here with all of you.

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

Feb. 1, 2018 Update
The Peterson Family

February 1

Friends — It’s hard to believe two months have gone by and the first week of the new semester is underway. Our family had a restful Christmas break; we stayed put in Missouri and celebrated the Christmas holiday just the three of us as a family. We attended a different congregation for Christmas Eve service, Zion Lutheran in St. Charles, which is much larger than my field congregation and closer to home. It was nice to have a different worship experience during this period of not being required to actively participate each week. Earlier in December we also went on the live Polar Express ride, which is a real train ride in downtown St. Louis that reenacts many of the scenes and items from the Tom Hanks movie. It was a lot of fun and Chelsea enjoyed it too, even though she was scared when Santa came to say hi! It is something we will definitely do again. My family came to visit over new year’s weekend and they certainly enjoyed getting to spend time with Chelsea and watch her open the gifts they brought! With my parents and sister all visiting that weekend, everyone in my original nuclear family has now visited our new home. Angela also took off one week from work in December, which allowed us to enjoy some ‘we’ time after Chelsea went to bed, relaxing and watching movies night after night. This is something we used to do a lot before becoming parents but haven’t done nearly as often these days, but it was definitely good and relaxing.

I managed to get all my assignments caught up and everything turned in on time, even despite having to play catch-up due to feeling ill right after Thanksgiving. I was pleased will all my grades, so semester 1 here was definitely a success! In the middle of January, all first year students were required to attend a two week intensive class, called Intro to Pastoral Leadership. The teacher was Pastor David Peter, and it took place on site of two local congregations. The focus of this class was to understand how a church functions as a physical, earthly ‘business’ or institution. There was no theology involved, but rather it was devoted to understand how congregations are organized structurally, how to manage finances, what the pastor’s role is based on congregation size, etc. The first week was spent at a small congregation and the second week was spent at a large one. The pastors for each congregation led half of our lecture time, with Pastor Peter leading the other half. The small congregation I was assigned to was Messiah Lutheran in St. Louis, and the large one was Webster Gardens Lutheran in Webster Groves.

After this two week intensive class we had one more week off, and then starting with this present week, we have begun the new semester. I have four classes, just like before, and have now had a chance to experience them all. My exegetical class is the Letters of Paul, with Pastor Mark Seifrid, the same teacher I had for my exegetical class the previous semester. This week we looked at the book of Acts (ironically not written by Paul), in order to examine the possible timeline of his missionary journeys and correlate which letters he most likely wrote at what time. Later on we will focus on a specific text from Romans in Greek and hand in a paper analyzing our own translation of Greek when compared with two popular English translations. Because this class is New Testament-based and we will work with translating Greek in it, there is no Greek lab this semester.

Second is Intro to Practical Theology with Pastor Ben Haupt. This is a brand new class for the new semester curriculum, and so far it seems to focus on the aspect of missions and how being missiological can be different compared to what we typically think. It doesn’t all involve sending people overseas, the culture has changed enough where there are plenty of unchurched people here in our own backyard.

Third is Homiletics with Pastor David Peter, the same teacher as the January intensive class. Here is where we take our first steps in creating sermons, and the final project will be to create two full length sermons and choose one to present orally for video recording in order to analyze with peers and the teacher afterwards. The two texts we have to create these sermons on are both texts that will be used in the lectionary this summer, with the idea being we can further refine them if we so choose and if we happen to travel home on those particular weeks, we can offer to present them to our home congregations at that time. This week we talked about what good preaching should include and what makes a good sermon different from simple storytelling or motivational speaking.

Lastly is Creeds & Confessions with Pastor David Maxwell. This class is being taught similarly to our systematics class from the previous semester where one day a week we meet as a big large group, and the other day we will divide into smaller classes to ask questions and have further clarification on what was previously discussed. So far we have examined why we have our creeds and confessions, what they do and don’t do, among other things. I have really enjoyed his approach so far, and much of how he delivers the material reminds me of a favorite pastor from back home, so much so that it feels like being in one of his Sunday morning classes again. I suspect this will be my favorite class of the semester!

As before there is still a language lab if one is not taking a class directly related to one of the testaments, so I do still have a Hebrew lab once a week. This semester the teacher is Pastor Paul Raabe, and this week we looked at a passage from Exodus where God converses with Moses after the golden calf incident, and he explained how much gospel can be found in this passage. So much so that for those who believe God’s behavior in the old testament is petty, tyrannical and genocidal, that they truly haven’t read the text well enough to know what they’re talking about. It was quite an insightful discussion!

At Zion Lutheran in Maryland Heights, my field congregation, I have gotten to assist leading liturgy three times now, twice in December and once last week. Last week was a matins service, so I got to do something I had never done, perform chanting! Having a lower voice, I performed the tones an octave lower than how I have heard them done by others, but I think it went well. Angela said it was like listening to monks, in a good way.  Pastor Femmel wants to make a point to have dinner with the second year student there and myself once a month, for mutual support, prayer, and brotherly fellowship. Our second such meeting will be next Tuesday.

My time at Chai v’Shalom is over, but in this new semester I will experience a different module, one that is institution-based, which will be assisting a chaplain at a nursing home. I have not yet heard from him but that is another experience I am looking forward to.

Thank you for all the prayers, support and encouragement. It was a good and much-needed period of rest but I am ready now to get back at it again and look forward to giving all of you updates as things go along. Feel free to reach out anytime!

Kevin Peterson
Angela, Chelsea

Dec. 5, 2017 Update
The Peterson Family

December 5

Friends — This has been a busy month of unpredictability and new experiences for our family. On the plus side, the weather returned to the 60s the past two days, so getting to go outside without a jacket in December is something we agreed we can get used to! Today it’s back to the 40s and will be for the near future so the chilliness for this time of year is back to normal. No snow though, yay! My parents came to visit at the beginning of the month which was also an enjoyable time. My dad had been here once before but my mother never had, so she got to see the campus for the first time as well as our new house. She brought along a travelling stuffed bunny from her work and had him pose in several places around the campus which was fun to watch! She was impressed with the antiquity and privacy of the campus, remarking how it looks so picturesque like something off of a PBS special. Naturally they both enjoyed spending as much time as possible with their granddaughter. Dad is already planning ahead for when he can come back for visit number three! Two weeks ago then we got to experience a Thanksgiving meal on campus, spearheaded by other students who were staying locally and had nowhere to go; there were about 30 people with everyone bringing something, and plenty of food leftover! We brought some mashed potatoes and jellied cranberries, and got to have our fill of turkey, stuffing, pie, and the like. One of the teachers who attended, Pastor Jeff Gibbs, pointed out how all we need to do is look around at the other people there and how that was reason enough to give God thanks. True indeed!

On the other hand, however, I started feeling unwell Thursday evening with abdominal discomfort and which led to fatigue and strange appetite patterns and which continued throughout the long weekend and into the next week. I didn’t have the energy to do any reading or writing for class and ended up missing classes on Monday and Tuesday right after Thanksgiving. I would wake up in the middle of the night each night from GI pain and would snack in order to go back to sleep. I made an appointment with a doctor who thought it could be related to my gall bladder and that following an ultrasound, we would decide whether surgery was needed. The doctor gave me some prescription strength painkillers which really helped! After taking them I felt like myself again and could help around the house like before. Last Friday then I had my ultrasound and the results showed everything was normal! Not only that but after two days of taking the pills I felt I didn’t need them anymore, so all in all now I have a clean bill of health. This definitely seemed like a direct answer to prayer, both from myself and from friends and family who were in the know. My teachers were all personally sympathetic as well and accommodating in turning in assignments later than normal due to this. Now with no surgery pending I need to catch up with school work that I missed turning in due to this health scare. It will be a busy two weeks for me coming up before the semester ends!

Exegetical theology is the class with the most to make up. We turned in the major exegetical paper for this class last week, based on the same Romans text we did our bible study outline on, and then had a class period at Pastor Seifrid’s house which was just a breakfast get‐together rather than a lecture. It was a nice way to congratulate the class for having all the major work for the class turned in; unfortunately mine is not yet turned in, so that will be my major task to do throughout the remainder of this week.

Historical theology had us write a paper on a major theologian after Luther, John Calvin. This was my favorite of the three papers we have written so far, due to having more familiarity with his theology than the previous others. Despite knowing the differences that separated Calvin from Luther, it was interesting to learn how some of the differences which separate us Lutherans from those in the Reformed weren’t the result of Calvin himself, but of Calvinists and Calvinism that came after him. Pastor Robinson said how some (not all) of the things Calvin wrote about would actually be in agreement with what Luther believed, but phrased in a different way that his later followers created a bigger gap between our theologies than was initially the case. Our fourth paper which I will have to turn in late will be on Søren Kierkegaard. Our final assignment will be to do a double essay on two readings from a selection of choices from other church fathers we did not discuss in class.

Systematic theology has delved into two important theological topics—two kinds of righteousness and law and gospel. The latter is quite familiar to every serious Lutheran and some would say is the cornerstone of understanding our theology. Pastor Joel Biermann, who gave the lecture on both topics, argues that the former is much more significant than many give it credit for. Two kinds of righteousness deals with recognizing that our vertical relationship with God is totally dependent on God’s forgiveness and mercy through Christ, with nothing we can do to contribute to that. Our horizontal relationship with other people is centered around doing God’s will to others simply because those other people need us to. The tricky part is when people confuse the two, either by thinking they don’t need to help those around them since they have forgiveness in Christ (lazy or uncaring Christians) or they think that they are scoring points with God to where God owes them forgiveness and favor due to their good deeds to others (a devout Mormon, for example.) Our final exam will be to write an essay explaining how we would describe ourselves as a theologian.

Practical theology is rounding out the various health aspects we have discussed. This month we focused on vocational and financial health, and later today we will conclude with intellectual health. At the end we are to turn in a list of goals we hope to work on in each of the 8 areas to show we have a vested interest in each one. This is to be a living document where goals change overtime and get refined as needs change.

At Zion Lutheran I had my first experience helping lead worship this past Sunday. I read all the lessons, gave the prayers and petitions, assisted with communion and gave the final blessing. Pastor Femmel said I speak clearly and concisely, now the trick is to take that to the next level by embodying the text as though I were the author delivering it orally for the first time. My next time at it will be two weekends from now.

At Chai v’Shalom I have attended bible study on Wednesdays and a couple more Sunday morning services. I also fulfilled the other requirements for this cross cultural experience, which were to visit the local holocaust museum and attend an actual Jewish synagogue service. The museum is very well kept and organized with an audio tour to guide visitors on what they are seeing. All three of us went and Angela also said she appreciated all the history and atrocity presented. Chelsea had a lot of room to run as we were looking at the exhibits which was very helpful! This was in the midst of my not feeling well so I suspect I would have enjoyed it even more had I been in tip top condition. Then on Saturday evening I found a conservative synagogue in Creve Coeur, MO to attend. It was a short prayer service to close out the Sabbath and the experience reminded me somewhat of a Catholic mass, with a book similar to a missal that gets used based on the day of the week, with a lot of reciting prayers and scripture in Hebrew between a cantor and the congregation. There was a translation to show what was being said, and a boy who appeared to be of bar mitzvah age was also assisting. This little service concluded with the lights turned out and only a candle for light, and included a glass of wine and perfume. This was to symbolize sending out the Sabbath in a good way and to hope for a good week ahead. Pastor Parviz said how one hurdle most Jews have with leaving Judaism is the strong sense of community they have, and in the short time I was there I could see what he meant. I really got the sense of community with this community of Jews, including how they occasionally gave their prayers and responses in a lighter, more joyous delivery of speech than what is typically found in a Christian worship service. As it turned out the bigger Sabbath service with a lesson from the rabbi takes place on Saturday morning instead of Saturday evening, so I missed out on that aspect. Otherwise I was very glad I went and appreciated my time there that evening.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support. It felt like a busy month and these next two weeks seem like an extension of that before we all get a much‐needed long break. Our plans for Christmas aren’t set in stone yet, but if we do travel to Minnesota we will try to let everyone know. I’m not sure yet if I will send an update at the beginning of January. If not the next one will be at the beginning of February, just as the spring semester begins. Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to all as you ponder and celebrate the incarnation in your own home!

Kevin & Angela Peterson

Nov. 1, 2017 Update
The Peterson Family

Friends:   This month on campus culminated just last night with an event everyone in Lutheranism has been anticipating for a very long time, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation! The service at our own chapel of Sts. Timothy & Titus did not disappoint, with great music and choral selections performed by a combination of our own campus choir, local high school choirs and brass and a combination of the above plus congregational singing. All this was topped off with exquisite organ arrangements and a variety of hymns from the past 500 years. Everything from the gentle ballad By The Rivers Of Babylon to the reformation standard A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, a German piece by Buxtehude, and ending with the contemporary favorite In Christ Alone. We had four sermons, including two by two of my teachers—Pastor Nafzger and Pastor Sanchez—for a worship service that totaled almost two hours. Plus, the chapel was seated to absolute full capacity—folding chairs in the narthex, standing room only, plus sending people to classrooms to view the video feed there! Staff reflected they have never seen the chapel that full before. An amazing event!!

We had ‘reading week’ during the middle of October, the halfway point in the semester and in which no classes took place. It was a much-appreciated break where everyone got a chance to rest and regroup, and I spent time with Chelsea at home which she enjoyed. Chelsea had her second birthday during this time, now 2 years old! We had a special day just the three of us and then that weekend had a party with a couple seminary families joining for fun and food as well as an appearance by one of Angela’s relatives. Back at the beginning of the month my dad came down for a weekend and this too was a fun event for our family. We all went to the Grant’s farm site, owned by the Busch family, and saw the famous Budweiser Clydesdales (huge!) along with several other animals. It was an enjoyable excursion and something we would do again!

Exegetical theology is slowly but surely starting to become more concrete, as we talk about the reasons why the methods of interpretation for biblical texts our church uses are the best and how they have stood the tests of time and scrutiny. We are also getting some preliminary instructions for a bible study outline and our first exegetical paper (both based on a short text in Romans 3) that will be due by November’s end.

Historical theology saw us writing another paper based on a different church father, Thomas Aquinas. I found his selections to be more difficult to decipher than Augustine but was nonetheless impressed with how precise and logical his work was organized, down to the minute details. Apparently he had a significant event (which he believed was divine, though perhaps it was a medical ailment) that made him choose to abandon his life’s work for the short remainder of his life. Whatever it was it must have been quite significant to bring forth such a result! Right now we are just starting to read the writings of Luther, and will be discussing the first of those in class tomorrow.

Systematic theology has had us write a paper on issues involving congregational conflict (one person believing we need to act ASAP if the congregation is to thrive while another believes we shouldn’t do anything and rely on the Holy Spirit.) We also had a midterm exam for this class covering the content we have learned thus far. These assignments haven’t been graded and returned yet so hopefully my answers were satisfactory! Tomorrow we are going to start the topic of the ‘theology of the cross.’ While I have heard pastors discuss this in the past and had a good idea what it means, reading one of the books in this class (On Being A Theologian Of The Cross by Gerhard Forde) has been an eye opening experience at how wonderfully he communicates this concept. So many nuggets of wisdom in this book, I suspect I will want my own copy at some point!

Practical theology has been moving along dealing with various health aspects that make us a healthy, holistic person. This month we have covered emotional health and cultural health as well as discussed the differences between the Office of Holy Ministry and the priesthood of all believers. We watched a video based on the Swedish book The Hammer Of God by Bo Giertz with a scene that emphasized both in action. A young pastor goes to see a dying man who is convinced he will go to hell due to all the times he could have repented and chose to continue sinning. The pastor speaks in vague theological points but isn’t really listening to the man’s concerns. A woman who knows the man better approaches his bedside and reminds him that Jesus already paid the penalty for ALL sin, that no sin is too big or frequent to be left out. It isn’t the man’s lack of choosing to repent that determines his fate. He is asked whether he believes this and he agrees. The look of relief on his face afterwards is quite apparent. Next the woman asks the pastor to celebrate communion for everyone gathered round. This scene helps emphasize that anyone has the freedom to share the gospel with someone who needs to hear it in order to ease their conscience, while at the same time recognizing that the pastor should be the one to celebrate the sacrament of communion as part of his regular call and duty to keep things in good and proper order.

At my field congregation of Zion Lutheran my family and I have been continuing to attend Sunday services. Pastor Femmel invited our family to his home for a meal a couple times after church in order to have fellowship with his family as well as the other seminarian attending there. This coming Sunday he and I will have a practice session after church going through the liturgy and figure out a schedule for me to actively lead liturgy on Sunday mornings

At my other congregation, Chai v’Shalom I have been attending weekly bible studies as well as some Sunday services, getting to experience liturgy and collects in Hebrew along with songs that have a more middle eastern feel to them. Pastor Kevin Parviz does a nice job showing how the first century Christians (most of them Jews) would have worshipped and prayed as well as emphasizing what significance communion would have had to them in that time and place. In small group meetings he has shared with us the particular challenges Christians face when conversing and witnessing to Jews. He explained if a Jewish person is willing to meet to talk about theology, we should promise not to bring up Jesus but instead talk about the nature and character of God, and go through some select passages of the Old Testament which reflect this. Only mention Jesus if/when the other person brings him up (which hopefully will happen if the conversation goes the right way) and allow plenty of time for seeds to be planted. Belief in Jesus can’t happen overnight but being a calm and inviting presence who is open to listening in a gentle manner is the key.

It’s been a busy and exciting month with a lot of variety, and looking ahead I see more busyness and variety ahead for November. As we approach this month of giving thanks I want to thank all of you for prayers, encouragement and support. My family and I truly appreciate knowing others care about us and our success. Feel free to reach out anytime!

Kevin & Angela Peterson

Oct. 1, 2017 Update
The Peterson Family

Friends:   Another month has gone by, with school, work and life in full swing. As a family we have gone to Big Joel's Safari (a petting zoo) in which Chelsea got to ride a pony as well as feed the other animals there. Lots of goats as well as piglets, chickens, and other assorted animals up close and personal. Chelsea also had a couple experiences with backup daycare. These were both very last-minute situations so getting to see God's people in action during our time of need has been a real blessing! Other than that we had a couple unusually hot September weekends, making it harder to enjoy other sites around town. We are also looking forward to seeing my dad when he visits next weekend, making his first trip to Missouri and our first shot at hosting company here.

On my own I got to attend a lecture at a nearby congregation featuring two keynote speakers who are pastors in our synod. First was Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller from Colorado who spoke about the serious theological issues surrounding the church at the time leading up to the reformation. Second was Pastor Jonathan Fisk, now at KFUO radio here in St. Louis, who spoke about the Augsburg confession and how rich a document it is with regards to being a starting point in dialoguing with other individuals and church bodies on where we stand on a whole host of issues. Both of them have published a book and they each signed one for me, and they both can be seen and heard on the youtube channel Worldview Everlasting. Check it out sometime if you haven't already!

We also had a couple particularly moving chapel services this month. One was focused on first responders, policemen, firemen, ambulance drivers, etc. who arrived in uniform and were recognized for the selflessness their profession requires. This service featured an eclectic musical palate, with a bagpiper handling preservice music followed by a trio of a vocalist, a cellist and a bass guitar who sang stirring renditions of a couple hymns. Christ Be My Leader was especially moving as performed by them!

The second touching service was due to the faculty member who gave the sermon that day. The text was on the parable of vineyard workers in Matthew 20. Some workers are hired for a full day, some half a day, and some only for one hour. The chapel sermon started with how the first set of workers were upset due to thinking they would be getting more. That word can lead many people to despair and frustration, always wanting what they don't have. Our world measures success by who has the most of something. The most friends, toys, money, etc. He then went on to discuss how just two weeks prior his son passed away suddenly of a suspected blood clot in his 30s. He talked about how his son suffered from depression, social anxiety, and obsessive compulsive behaviors. Due to all this he had difficulty keeping employment and lived with his parents all his life. He didn't have many friends; when he shared a facebook status it didn't get many likes or comments. All of this led to a lot of frustration and he started to drift away from the church. But his dad informed us that he was confirmed in the faith, and when he did attend church he still communed with them, and towards the end he partook in a comfort dog ministry that his dad was spearheading, which always had a gospel component each time the dog would visit those needing a furry friend. And in the sermon we were reminded (amidst a very emotional preacher by this point, barely able to finish his sermon) that it is the generosity of Jesus that matters, and that it is more than sufficient for us, regardless of how much or how little we have in terms of material possessions--this is the generosity his son is now experiencing, all thanks to Jesus without any requirements on his part. Praise God!

Classes are moving along at a fair pace. With my exegetical class we are still focusing on abstract concepts and theories of how to derive a proper meaning from a text, and what factors should be involved to get at the meaning the author would have had when writing it. Later in the class we will be creating a Bible study outline on a passage from Romans, demonstrating how we would present it to a group were we to do so. That will be a chance to put the theories we are learning into practice.

Historical theology has had us reading more work by early church fathers, including one of the most famous, Augustine. I found it particularly interesting how many 'Lutheran' concepts and beliefs he writes on despite living centuries before Luther concreted them. Our teacher, Pastor Robinson, was interviewed as a guest on the Martin Luther documentary featured on PBS this past month, along with a few other faculty members. It was nice seeing someone I know personally as a source of authority on a nationally viewed program! The name of it is Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World.

Systematic theology has been quite interesting. We have been learning from a variety of teachers on topics such as how the Word of God encompasses more than the scriptures in the Bible as well as what exactly it means to be considered 'confessional'. We also have discussed the big stumbling blocks many people have as to why they can't accept Christian theology. All very interesting!

Pastoral Ministry has also been interesting, also dealing with a variety of topics, including going over a personality test we each took this summer. We learned how we typically process information and relate to others, as well as what our own strengths and weaknesses are based on this model. We also got to practice in small groups going over the pastor's portion of the liturgy at the beginning of a typical service. This includes which way to face, how to guide people to stand and sit, etc. It seems easy after seeing it done so many times but certainly feels different actually standing there and declaring God's words of forgiveness to actual, living people in front of you!

Language labs are also moving along. This gives us a chance to keep vocabulary, grammar and syntax in mind as well as learn some new meanings to particular words. Greek with Pastor Raj has been going through the middle of John while Hebrew with Pastor David Adams has been focused on select portions of Genesis.

At my field congregation, Zion Lutheran, I have enjoyed attending service with my family and listening to the Sunday bible study. It is a much smaller congregation than what I had in Rochester, being more similar to my home congregation growing up. Pastor Mark likes to make a point to commune everyone by name, which has been a nice benefit I hadn't experienced in a long time. We were invited to his home to have lunch with his wife and children last weekend, which we all enjoyed. There is a second year seminary student who attends there as well, and in the next month we will probably be coordinating a schedule for when I should start assisting with portions of the service.

One final addition this month is a secondary real-world experience. Each student has to spend 40 hours in the semester involved in a cross cultural ministry. I chose to work with a congregation that focuses on outreach towards Jewish people. The pastor there, Pastor Kevin Parviz, was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home and overtime came to believe the New Testament was true and correct, and has made a point to outreach to Jews in the St. Louis area after finishing his seminary education. Besides attending a few Bible studies I also got to attend a service on the evening of Rosh Hashanah. He mentioned in his sermon how Jews all over the world are meeting tonight, hoping to keep their good deeds outweighing their bad ones in God's book of records. Yet despite all this they have no way of being assured their sins are covered. He reminded us that only we can offer that hope, the hope in Yeshua Hamashiach, how very true!

Thank you again for your continued interest and support; feel free to reach out to us anytime!

Kevin & Angela Peterson

About Me (Kevin)

I grew up in the small town of Renville, MN and then moved to Mankato to attend Bethany Lutheran College. I grew up in the ELCA and so had a more theologically liberal upbringing, and attending BLC is what gave me my first exposure of confessional Lutheranism. A couple years after graduating from there with my associate’s degree I found the theology I had learned rubbed off on me and knew I needed to find a more conservative and unified church body. It was also at this time I first considered attending seminary (around 2003), but due to a variety of factors, the timing was not right.

I moved to Rochester in 2008 and eventually received a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from the local Minnesota School of Business. After a multi-year period of chronic unemployment, odd temp jobs, and finally a permanent white-collar job with Charter, I knew the desire for seminary from many years earlier never went away and I finally started my first classes as a student in the fall of 2017. I have always felt very comfortable being in the church throughout all my life, and since moving here I know for a fact this is where I belong and what I should do with my life. A pastor friend once said to only enter the ministry if you can’t see yourself doing anything else. If you think you would be happy doing something else, do that instead. Now with a wide variety of experience under my belt I know what he meant.

My wife Angela is a nurse practitioner and we also have a daughter Chelsea. We are enjoying our new life here in Missouri and definitely appreciate the warmer weather! I am a big movie fan and enjoy watching favorite films from my personal collection in my spare time as well as playing piano/organ or working on photography/genealogy projects. Please feel free to contact the Redeemer office if you are interested in getting in touch, and make a point to say hello if you happen to be in the St. Louis area!