Luther Seminary Mid-Winter Convocation

Luther Seminary’s KAIROS continuing education courses offer a wealth of learning opportunities designed for clergy and church leaders of all denominations. Learn more and register at

Mid-Winter Convocation: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread 
January 30–31, 2019

Join us as we consider what it means to ask for our “daily bread” from the land and those who tend it. Along the way, we’ll explore food, sustainability, and how to engage each other across deep differences for the sake of all people and all places. The keynote speakers are:

  • Melanie Harris, Founder and Director of African American and African Studies and Professor of Religion and Ethics at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Barbara Rossing, Professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
  • Kathryn Schifferdecker, Associate Professor Old Testament and Chair of the Bible Division at Luther Seminary
  • Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology; Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University

Workshops offered during Mid-Winter Convocation are:

STEMtastic! Ways to Connect Faith and Science
Heidi Ferris, Educator, Scientist, and Community Connector, Growing Green Hearts

Wonder, notice, and ask questions about God’s creation using systems thinking strategies for Scripture and ecology. Explore vocational discernment through engineering design challenges and nature play. Try hands-on environmental STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Gain tips and tricks for connecting faith, science, and youth leadership at your church.

From Service to Systems Change: Exploring the Complexities of Food Ministries
Allyson Green, Chief Sustainability Officer, Augsburg University
Natalie Jacobson, Campus Kitchen Coordinator, Augsburg University
Isaiah Friesen, Environmental Justice Organizer, Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

Serving food is a core ministry of hospitality for many faith communities, but it doesn’t always serve the real needs of community members—and it’s far more complex than just serving food. Participants will examine their own assumptions about and involvement in food ministries, consider local case studies from Campus Kitchen at Augsburg University and New City Backyard Farms, and explore possible paths forward in dismantling racism and economic inequities in their own food system context.

Ecowomanism: Earth Justice in Our Time
Melanie Harris, Founder and Director, African-American and Africana Studies, Professor of Religion and Ethics, Texas Christian University

This workshop continues from Harris’ plenary session, which features eco-wisdom flowing from the earth, honoring faith traditions of African-American women, and celebrating their contributions to the environmental justice movement. Harris will introduce the ecowomanist method and discuss the importance of engaging race-class-gender analysis when confronting climate injustice. The workshop will engage theory and practice as Harris discusses the environmental justice paradigm, eco-memory, and counter-memory. Participants will be invited to share their own eco-stories and together reenergize their faith and commitment to earth justice.

The Ethics of Food: A Global-Theological View
Guillermo Hansen, Associate Dean for Graduate Theological Education, Professor, Martin Luther King Jr. Chair for Justice and Christian Community, Luther Seminary

This workshop offers a look at the role of food in human communities—both material and symbolic—its production and distribution, and related Christian ethical concerns.

Sustaining Stories
Mary Hess, Professor of Educational Leadership, Luther Seminary

We are immersed in a world of digital storytelling. Where is God in the midst of all this media? This workshop offers strategies on how to engage digital stories and cultivate thoughtful perspectives. Learn simple practices you can try at home, analyze digital stories on food and sustainability, and share faithful insights in fresh ways.

Pilgrims Caring for Creation: A Case Study
Diane Jacobson, Founder, Caring Creation

What are churches saying and doing about environmental issues? Individuals from congregations in the St. Paul Area Synod formed a Care of Creation Work Group to address this question. This practical and interactive workshop, led by members of Pilgrim Lutheran Church and the SPAS work group, will include a case study of one congregation’s experience learning the complex, challenging, and critical work of creation care.

Enabling the Entire Faith Community to End the Waste of Food—for Good
Gary Oppenheimer, Founder and Executive Director, Ample Harvest

How can you end hunger when you don’t use the food you already have? Since the beginning of organized religion, spiritual leaders have talked about the need to feed the hungry. Learn about an award-winning, nine-year-old nationwide solution that took an entirely new approach to ending food waste on a massive scale

The Whole World Is A Farm
Alex Reich, Producer and Educational Video Creator, MinuteEarth and PBS’s “Hot Mess”

Forty percent of Earth’s land is devoted to agriculture. Placed end-to-end, the world’s farms would cover all of South America, and the world’s pastures would cover all of Africa. If you put every mammal on a scale, humans and livestock would be 96 percent of the weight; wild animals would be just 4 percent. Our land use is responsible for one quarter of all the greenhouse gases warming our planet. And in the sea, a third of the world’s fisheries are overfished. Growing food is a big deal—not to mention that roughly a third of the food we produce is lost or wasted before anyone eats it or that it can be difficult to determine how much to eat and which foods are healthiest, tastiest, and most affordable. Exploring food, agriculture, and environmental impact quickly becomes overwhelming. How does this all relate to individuals, and what can we do about it? Let’s have a conversation about what it means to be an individual eater (or producer) in a world largely influenced by our search for food.

Feasting in Paradise: Early Christian Meals, Our World’s Hunger, and the Tree of Life
Barbara Rossing, Professor of New Testament at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

The tables of thanksgiving in the New Testament overturn the tables of Herod and the imperial system. How do we live the vision of the overflowing “abundances” of bread (John 6:13) in order to galvanize scriptural imagination for food justice today? How does preaching about meals transform our practices of growing food, caring for the soil, and eating together in community? Drawing on early Christian paradise traditions, ecology, and the Lord’s Prayer, we will consider how the Tree of Life, apocalyptic texts, and biblical meal stories can form visionary preaching, for food justice, sustainability, and Eucharistic living today.

Knowing Our Limits: Sabbath and Sustainability
Kathryn Schifferdecker, Associate Professor of Old Testament; Bible Division Chair, Luther Seminary

“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” The Sabbath commandment calls for an attitude of restraint, an intentional self-limiting of human striving. It is a gift of God for abundant life, not just for human beings, but for the land itself. It is also a counter-cultural commandment in our world today, as we realize ever more clearly what it means for us and for the world around us that we have not practiced such restraint. Sustainability is only possible in a world where we know our limits and live within them. The Sabbath texts can guide us in such life-sustaining practices.

Saying Grace: Eating as a Mundane yet Profound Expression of Faithfulness
Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Theology, Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Duke University Divinity School

Offering hospitality and praying before a meal are common rituals of faith. What do these and other tangible practices help us understand about God, people, and the world? Author and professor Norman Wirzba will build on the themes from his plenary session and reveal how the Bible doesn’t allow us to think the life of faith is about the soul’s escape from embodiment or this earth. Instead, it draws us more deeply into physical places, into life with each other, and toward the reconciliation of all things.

Sustaining Hope and Creativity in a Hot, Hungry World
Mark Yackel-Juleen ’89 M.Div., ’04 D.Min., Director for Small Town and Rural Ministry Center for Theology and Land, Wartburg Theological Seminary

This workshop will lift up examples of how congregations and individuals are cultivating hope through creative responses to the challenges of food justice and sustainability. Participants are welcome to share ideas in pursuit of broader shared knowledge and greater practical understanding about one of today’s most pressing topics.