The Rev. Erik Christensen has accepted a call to serve as Pastor to the Community and Director of Worship at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). He will begin his service early in the fall semester.
“I am delighted that Pastor Christensen has accepted this call. He brings considerable gifts in leading vibrant public witness, preaching and presiding, and in his care for all people,” said James Nieman, president. “We are blessed that Erik’s wise and innovative pastoral experience will now enrich our school. I am sure we have much to learn from him and with him.”
Christensen said, “Throughout my ministry I have been passionate about identifying diverse emerging leaders for the church and cultivating their gifts for ministry. Among the ELCA seminaries, LSTC is known for its commitments to racial diversity, urban ministry and public advocacy, commitments that necessarily create tension as they address structures of power and violence. Now, more than ever, the church needs pastors, deacons, students and scholars who can engage conflict purposefully for the sake of personal and societal transformation. I am honored to be called to carry out this work in partnership with the students, staff and faculty of LSTC.”
Connecting worship and justice
As pastor with St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square since 2006, Christensen has consciously worked to build a community in which worship and the means of grace are experienced as inextricably connected to the work of justice. He is a frequent contributor to Augsburg Fortress’ “Sundays & Seasons” materials. He also is the co-author of “Worship Matters: An Introduction to Worship” and “In These or Similar Words: Crafting Language for Worship.” For the last year he has served as project director for a grant to the Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship to explore the connections between storytelling, testimony and Christian proclamation. He has also been a supervising pastor to interns and field education students from LSTC.
Christensen also has been a leader in a number of organizations working on a wide range of justice issues. He served as co-chair of the board of directors of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and is a member of Proclaim, a Lutheran community of LGBTQ+ rostered ministers, seminarians and candidates for ministry. He was on the board of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and helped found the Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance, which received LSTC’s Community of the Cross Award earlier this year. Christensen also served as the vice-president of the board for The Beatitudes Society, now Justice Ministry Education at Auburn Seminary.
Christensen received a master of divinity degree with a certificate in Black Church Studies from Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He received a master of sacred theology degree with an emphasis in Christian ethics from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Macalester College.
Pastor to the Community and Director of Worship
The Pastor to the Community and Director of Worship position has been shaped to be highly relational and collaborative. The Pastor to the Community will relate to all members of the LSTC community and collaborate with faculty and staff concerning worship, spiritual formation and pastoral care. The Pastor to the Community will also help lead engagement with the world outside the seminary’s walls.
The Advisory Committee for this search was made up of students, faculty and staff. They invited seven of the 20 applicants for the position to an interview and unanimously recommended Christensen for the call.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.