More than 150 professors from WELS higher education institutions and those in our fellowship attended the Lutheran College Conference Aug. 10-12 at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis., under the theme “Teaching through a Lutheran Lens.” These WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) professors from Wisconsin Lutheran College, Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn.; Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minn.; Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mankato; and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., encouraged each other and shared ideas and approaches for teaching with an eye always on faith.
“Teaching through a Lutheran lens is a conversation that has been occurring on our campus for many years now,” says Professor Rhoda Wolle, chairperson of the faculty development committee at Wisconsin Lutheran College. “It’s remaining mindful of why we do what we do and how we do it to the best of our ability and to the glory of our Savior.”
Rev. Mark Zarling, president of Martin Luther College, says this conference was a great opportunity for attendees to gather around Word and sacrament for the Spirit’s strength. “All professors in these colleges seek to be instruments of the Spirit to nurture faith and instill a biblical and Christocentric worldview in our students,” he says. “How vital this is as we live in a society that is flooded with false world views. . . . Christians teaching in higher education are strengthened to be clear witnesses not only to their students, but also to an academic world that no longer espouses propositional truth.”
Through general presentations as well as set times for specific academic departments to meet, the conference gave participants opportunities to see how their colleagues incorporate confessional Lutheranism in their teaching—no matter what the topic.
“One of my favorite proverbs is ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ I think that’s why I’m here,” says Professor Chad Heins, biology, Bethany Lutheran College. “Here there’s multiple sections with different professors teaching different things. They all approach things differently and yet have that common spiritual theme embedded in everything.”
This is the fifth conference put together by this group, the first being held in 2000 at Bethany Lutheran College. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary participated in the conference for the first time this year. “It’s new territory for me,” says Rev. Forrest Bivens, professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. “But the concept is just so excellent—to have Lutheran educators who are giving thanks to God for being Lutherans . . . and to see them devoting themselves to the priority of remaining Lutheran as well as growing professionally all wrapped in one beautiful package.”
The next conference is scheduled to be held at Martin Luther College in 2017.