The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The band plays on

Born in 1485, Johannes Bugenhagen was Martin Luther's pastor, a theology lecturer at Wittenberg University and integral to the Reformation in Germany. He was not a rock 'n' roll star.

But three years ago, while learning about the famed pastor in a class at Pacific Lutheran Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., the inspiration Greg Schaefer seemed to get from Bugenhagen was that his name would be good for a rock band.

Schaefer and a few of his musically inclined schoolmates agreed, and The Bugenhagens became the seminary's first official "house band."

The band has gone through several roster changes as members graduate, and Schaefer hopes the name and tradition of having a group to play on campus lasts forever. "It would be cool," said Schaefer, a guitarist and one of two original members. "We don't know what will happen, but we hope the band can get new members and keep going."

The Bugenhagens play mostly album cover title songs, their favorite being Elvis Costello's Peace, Love and Understanding. They also enjoy U2.

The band has gained some notoriety on campus, playing the seminary's Advent Coffee House and after meetings and functions. The Bugenhagens only played on the road once, although Schaefer said it would be fun to do more. "But our fame basically extends to the end of campus, and that's it," he said.

"Being in the band has significantly improved my time at seminary," said Dave Johanson, the other original member who is still around. "I've connected with these great guys. We play together, and we also pray together."

Most of the band plans to become pastors and use music to enhance their ministry. And their hope is that when they meet for a 20th anniversary reunion, the band playing at the school will be The Bugenhagens, still going strong.


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