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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The shape of family

Back in 1978, at what was then Luther-Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., some young, idealistic seminarians and their spouses made a pact: “We will stay in contact to maintain the friendships that formed while training for ministry.” Having made this promise before in our colleges and high schools, we knew we needed to take intentional steps to assure it.


Graduates of Luther Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.) class of '78 and their families intentionally keep in touch, creating a bond that has lasted 29 years.
The first year six families (12 adults and three young children) gathered for $110 a week to share close quarters in a fishing resort near Alexandria, Minn. The digs were rustic—with curtains for doors, sinks designed for fish-cleaning and shared bathroom facilities. There were discussions among the group about whose turn it was for child care, communal meal plans, cooking rotations, what activities we could afford and whose turn it was for the bathroom. On the last night we held a communion service where the body and blood of Jesus was shared—and the Spirit began to form a bond in this group that has sustained us for 29 years.

Over the next few years we became seven families. As movement up the synod salary guidelines occurred, we also took up more luxurious quarters. We eventually landed in a family resort in Okoboji, Iowa, leading to the group lovingly being dubbed the “Okoboji Clan.”

Children were born, then children were married and now grandchildren have come along, resulting in a grand total of 41: 14 “original Okobojians,” 25 second generation and two third generation (with two more on the way).

A mass of this magnitude needs structure. Without that, precious vacation time is spent in the parking lot deciding what to do next. So we set schedules for communal meals, men’s and women’s night out, family night, group pictures and communion in the park—all somewhat resembling a cruise ship itinerary.

Over the years we have come to be family, complete with lively arguments (sometimes heated) and differences in politics, child-rearing approaches and ministerial styles. It hasn’t been utopia. But there has always been a deep sharing of our lives, building strong ties that have been a precious support, seeing us through all the difficulties encountered in family life and ministry.

The common element that binds us together has been very clear—a deep and abiding love of Jesus Christ and faith in the promises of our baptism and the sacrament of communion.

This week's front page features:

The 95 Theses today: Five Lutheran scholars say which still matter—and why. (Photo illustration at right.)

The way we were: 1908. Luther Seminary baseball team looked fierce.

Norman Borlaug: A high-yield life
. A word of advice for youth: "Don’t think too much about money."

U.S. and German Lutherans sign agreement to exchange information.

Also: ELCA assists global recovery efforts.

Also: ELCA hosts HIV/AIDS consultation.

Also: Older youth study sexuality.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann writes about Thanksgivoween.

Amber Leberman writes about things that are a-changing.

Kathleen Kastilahn blogs about comments about race attributed to pioneering geneticist James Watson.

Julie Sevig writes about being more than your photo — and being a child of God.

Sonia Solomonson (right) ponders to what we're in bondage.

Check out our blog > > >

Tell us! Peace-sharing preferences:


A staff blog on The Lutheran’s Web site about hugging vs. shaking hands during the sharing of peace resulted in 11 responses and an idea for a future story in the magazine. Share your opinion about sharing the peace — handshakes vs. hugging, comfort zones vs. uncomfortable zones.

Send your response to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org by Nov. 16.

Members: Respond online > > >

Take our 2008 topics survey:

Every year The Lutheran gives our readers the opportunity to help select the major issues we'll cover the following year.

Now it's time for you to contribute to our 2008 cover stories. The Lutheran staff has collected your comments and suggestions throughout the year and has used them to create a list of 25 potential cover stories. Choose 10 from our list or suggest your own.

The deadline to complete the survey is Oct. 31. Results will appear in the January issue of The Lutheran.

Take the survey > > >

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We at The Lutheran think it’s important to nurture the faith of the little ones in our midst. We developed The Little Lutheran for children 6 and younger to help them learn about God’s love for them and the world in which they live. We want them to know Jesus as friend and savior too.

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August issue

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