Frequently Asked Questions
What if I am not Lutheran or Christian?
You are welcome here! Faith matters deeply at Luther College. It matters enough to engage people of many faiths and religious traditions, as well as people without religious affiliation.
The college's denominational identity is Lutheran, but many voices and experiences fit here. We encourage participation in this faith and learning community because we feel we have much to offer the world. A wide range of groups offer opportunities for service and learning in cooperation with College Ministries, including the Catholic Student Community (led in partnership with students by Father Phil Gibbs from St. Benedict's Catholic Church in Decorah), Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Muslim Student Association and Allies. We have a great relationship with a variety of churches and faith communities in Decorah, including the Rymongi Bhuddist Monastery in the outskirts of town, with whom we partner to offer bi-weekly Buddhist meditation sessions on campus.
What worship opportunities are there and what are they like?
Worship is at the core of Luther's life as a community of faith and learning. Daily, there are opportunities on campus to participate in and lead worship services that will strengthen and nurture your faith, and also help you grow as you encounter a diverse and vibrant community of faith. In any given week, students, faculty and staff participate and lead in services that draw from global, contemporary, and traditional music. Service music is offered by everything from 100 member a capella choirs and organ to a rock band or global music ensemble. The campus pastors share in preaching and reflection together with hundreds of students, faculty, staff and visitors who share willingly of their faith and experience. Our eight weekly worship services include daily chapel (a twenty-minute time for prayer, song, and preaching) during weekdays, two weekly celebrations of Holy Communion, and a Sunday night contemporary service of drama, preaching, and music. Students provide significant leadership in all of our services.
Who are the pastors?
Campus Pastors Mike Blair, Amy Zalk Larson, and David Vasquez are available to all within the Luther community for conversation, reflection, vocational discernment, and counseling. They offer Bible studies with the assistance of student leaders, mentor student groups, and are active in the Decorah and broader faith community.
Where is your chapel?
Right in the middle of our campus is the Center for Faith and Life (CFL) where architecture embodies the college's mission to intersect faith with learning, freedom with responsibility, and life's work with service. The CFL Main Hall is intentionally the place where concerts like Dave Matthews' Live at Luther College and lectures by Nobel Laureates are held while also providing space for the worship life of the community. This intersection of faith and life encourages creative interaction and cooperation by the college's many departments with the faith life of the community. Other worship services and events may also take place in a small recital hall in the CFL, and we also have a small prayer chapel that is open as a meditation and prayer space 24 hours a day.
Would I be welcomed?
In Luther College Ministries, we affirm with the apostle Paul that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female" (Galatians 3:28). Christ has made us one. We acknowledge that this reconciliation extends to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The Luther College Congregation is a member of the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program. For more information, take a look at the Lutherans Concerned/North America website (http://www.lcna.org/ric.shtm).
Since this is a Christian college, will I be required to attend worship?
Luther has a vibrant student congregation that integrates religious life on campus for the hundreds of students who choose to participate in worship, Bible study, discussion groups, and service opportunities. While we are committed to providing students opportunities to grow and explore their faith, we deeply believe that students must discern their own engagement in their faith tradition, and therefore do not require participation in worship.
Service is important to my faith. Will I have service opportunities at Luther?
At Luther we believe that one's entire life relationships, activities, and professions pursued should be seen in terms of vocation, or calling. Put simply, vocation represents the many ways you live your life as you serve God and neighbor. Service opportunities and mission trips are core to that formational experience at Luther, where students serve neighbors in the immediate Decorah community, willingly respond to local and regional disasters, and travel to the Gulf Coast and abroad to serve and learn in partnership with others. Our service opportunities are all accompanied by intentional reflection that helps us not only process what we see and experience, but ask deep questions about the inequalities and social concerns often revealed by experiences of service.
I am interested in youth ministry or pastoral ministry. Is Luther a good place for my preparation?
Luther graduates are shaping the faith lives of communities around the country and around the world. Luther has the second largest number of students under 30 attending seminaries in the ELCA, and similarly impacts the work of volunteer organizations from Lutheran Volunteer Corps to the Peace Corps. Students interested in service in the church find a supportive environment at Luther through t.r.e.c. (time to reflect and explore call), which meets in both weekly small group gatherings and large group discussions. Students also find great opportunities to learn and practice leadership skills through our on-campus events or in our partnerships with church internships and camps. A combination of a rigorous academic preparation and a vibrant practical ministry provide a great foundation for leadership in the church.
How do I get involved?
A central feature of College Ministries at Luther is student leadership and participation. Whether regularly participating in a large group event like worship, offering music in a chapel service, or leading a small group Bible study or Global Concerns group, students are the core of our ministry. You can be part of one of our many Outreach Teams that meet weekly for fellowship and then travel to area congregations to plan a lock in, or you can be part of our 12 Global Concerns group that advocate for issues of hunger, environment, housing, and justice. Over 75 students serve in leadership positions each year as part of our student-elected congregation council, volunteer leaders for our wide variety of small group ministries, or as work-study students through office. Your gifts in music, leadership, and participation will help shape our shared ministry at Luther!
I consider myself to be liberal/conservative. Will I fit in?
Luther College embraces faith and intellectual freedom, which means we encourage you to grow and explore in your faith and conviction. Following the example of Jesus himself who often taught by raising questions rather than giving simple answers, we explore all sorts of topics together: Who is my neighbor? What is God asking of me? Why is suffering so pervasive? Our vision of ministry is one that is rooted in Jesus' prayer in John, chapter 17, that they all may be one, like you and I are one. While we don't strive for uniformity, we do seek to provide a space of welcome where we can be united in our commitment to explore, grow, and serve in our faith. Students at Luther hold a wide spectrum of views and convictions, and we encourage all students to deepen both their faith and convictions, in a way that allows them to also be open and be challenged by the ideas of others that run the gamut from liberal to conservative.
Are there any scholarships related to ministry preparation or church involvement?
Definitely. From its beginnings as an education institution, Luther has been committed to educating students to serve the common good. Our partnership with congregations in identifying, supporting, and preparing students has many facets, including financial support. Visit our Luther's Financial Aid web pages for general financial aid information, and check out details on matching funds for congregations and scholarships through the College Ministries Financial Assistance for Students.
Can I visit the college with my youth group?
Yes! We'd love to help you plan a visit, and will even provide some meals for your group while you're with us!
Visits may be planned during the school year to experience what life is like on campus during the academic year, and you can also visit in the summer when opportunities abound for outdoor activities like canoeing, kayaking, biking, and even cave explorations!