The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


On the right track

It's a Monday-to-Saturday ministry

Ken Boehm spreads God’s message to some 2,000 people a day—and at least 1,500 horses.

Granted, the horses may not understand what he’s saying. But they benefit nonetheless because Boehm’s words—and daily actions—help those who care for the four-legged athletes.

As chaplain of Churchill Downs, Ken
As chaplain of Churchill Downs, Ken Boehm prays with the jockeys before the start of all first races. And he’s also among the first on the tracks when an accident happens.
Boehm is the chaplain of Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky., home to the annual Kentucky Derby—the 5 p.m. fifth race on the first Saturday in May. A member of Ascension Lutheran Church, Louisville, Boehm has held a call with the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America for 17 years—a second life in his ministry.

After a divorce, Boehm, then a Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod pastor, left the congregation he served in Tampa, Fla., and visited family in New Jersey. He spoke to a counselor who turned him onto the Racetrack Chaplaincy. Today he is the only Lutheran chaplain among the 60 clergy at the 100 tracks and training facilities served by the chaplaincy.

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February issue


Embracing diversity