"...what was most appealing to me about LSTC was its commitment to both the highest level of academic study as well as a true commitment to dialogue with the church at large. "
Scott Chalmers, M.A. 1999, PhD. 2004
You never know where you are going to end up
by Scott Chalmers
M.A., Class of 1999
If there is one thing I’ve learned about being around LSTC for 15 years it is that you never know where you are going to end up. I’ve been an M.A. and Ph.D. student, a student worker in the Admissions Office, adjunct professor of Old Testament, Teaching and Learning Technologist, and now I’m the Director of Admissions.
In 1991, after graduating from college, I moved to Chicago and got a job at the ELCA Churchwide Offices. Until that point in my life, I had never set foot in a Lutheran church. As a matter of fact, when I interviewed for the position I had to ask, “What exactly does ‘ELCA’ stand for?” But after working there for several years and joining a Lutheran congregation I found myself hearing phrases and questions that began to intrigue me. What exactly were “Lutheran biblical hermeneutics?” Or for that matter, what exactly were “hermeneutics?” What was a person of faith supposed to do with texts that seemed violent or misogynistic? How was a contemporary Lutheran Christian supposed to read an ancient text that had a primarily ancient Jewish audience? While I had been raised to revere and study the Bible, I realized that these types of questions were going to need an answer.
It was a burning desire to know the answers to these types of questions that led me to LSTC. While I knew that I was being called to serve God and this world on some level, I struggled to discern what I was being called to do. Because I was so new to the Lutheran tradition, I didn’t feel that my call was to word and sacrament. Instead, I felt a strong call to teach. I applied and was accepted to the M.A. program (now the M.A.T.S.).
But what should I teach? I had always loved studying history and literature, so I was immediately drawn to Biblical Studies. And because I had always struggled with questions of how Christians should most authentically read the Hebrew Scriptures, I decided that my area of focus would be Old Testament. I can honestly say that studying the Hebrew Bible with incredible faculty like Profs. Ralph Klein, Walter Michel and Esther Menn has been one of the most important experiences of my life.
What was most appealing to me about LSTC was its commitment to both the highest level of academic study as well as a true commitment to dialogue with the church at large.
I was a product of several different Christian traditions, yet one question seemed common to all of my experiences: how do we read this collection of texts we call the Bible? My experience studying God’s word at LSTC has been duplicated by many of my own students: sometimes it can be very difficult to be challenged by new ways of looking at scripture, but this process is often essential for coming to a more complex and ultimately more rewarding “biblical hermeneutic.” Because of my studies at LSTC, I now can read the Bible and be both fascinated by ancient Near Eastern parallels and boldly proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God as it is shines forth from the ancient prophets.
Being able to work closely with Prof. Ralph Klein, who was my Ph.D. advisor, has had an immense impact on me. He is truly the embodiment of the faithful scholar, and I feel his influence every time I speak to anyone about what makes LSTC so special.
I began my teaching career in 2002 by teaching the online Pentateuch-Historical Books course (now Pentateuch-Wisdom Literature), a class which I continue to teach today. I’ve also taught at a variety of schools in the Chicago area, at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, and at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. Family obligations and the desire to start a family brought me back to Chicago.
I continued to feel God calling me to LSTC to serve, but it was unclear to me what role I would have. In 2010, thanks to my experience in online education, I was hired as the Teaching and Learning Technologist for LSTC. This year I am absolutely delighted to be have the opportunity, as Director of Admissions, to tell the story of LSTC to prospective students and walk with them as they discern God’s plan.
Being at LSTC as student, faculty and staff has been utterly transformative for me, as I have listened for and responded to God’s call in this urban, multicultural community.
Contact Scott or the LSTC Admissions office at firstname.lastname@example.org.