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A Blog by Deacon Sarah Bowers

Why Am I Still Here? 4 Pastors walk into a…

Why Am I Still Here? 4 Pastors walk into a…

4 Pastors Walk into a…College Classroom

Hey!  It’s me again!  I know it’s been a while, and in case you missed my first (or second) set of ramblings, let me give you a brief introduction and summary.  I am a lifelong Lutheran in my mid-thirties.  When I think of my life and all the stages thus far, this church has most certainly raised me and been part of each stage.  I have been involved with the church within the congregational, synodical, and churchwide expressions.  I love this church, for better or for worse, but I have found myself asking more and more often these days, why the heck am I still here? 

I’ve decided it’s because I’ve seen the absolute best of what the church can be.  I’ve experienced these moments of radical love and welcome and I want to share those with you, both from my life and from across the Synod.  These moments are what hold me tight and tether me to the promise of all God calls us to be.  Thanks be to God.

So, I’m ready to share with you another story.  Are you ready?  It’s kind of starts like a joke. 

What do you get when 4 Lutheran Pastors walk into a college classroom?

You get an amazing representation of community, church, and education all walking and working together.

This Spring, Newberry College has 4 local pastors teaching a section each of Religion 110:

  • Pastor David Coffman, Campus Pastor for Newberry College
  • Pastor Jason Schaffer, Pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church – Prosperity, SC
  • Pastor Matt Titus, Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church – Newberry, SC
  • Pastor Rebecca Wicker, Pastor of Summer Memorial Lutheran Church – Newberry, SC.

Last Fall, Dr. Mike Beggs, longtime professor at Newberry College, who actually taught both Pastor Matt and Pastor Rebecca, became very ill.  Pastor David, Pastor Matt and Pastor Rebecca, as local pastors both on campus and in the community, were asked to fill in for sections of Dr. Beggs’ while he was out.  Sadly, Dr. Beggs passed away and as the College was preparing for their Spring 2024 semester, Pastor David, Pastor Matt, and Pastor Rebecca were asked to say on, and Pastor Jason was invited to teach a section as well.

The four of them work together in preparing their plans for each class.  There are 15 weeks of class, and they have divided up each week and their PowerPoints that are used in class. Typically, they each teach at a different time throughout the day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but the day I attended, they were all four present.

As the students were back fresh from Spring Break, this dream-team taught each of the 4 sections on the day I attended together.  Why?  They were creatively sharing with the students the difference and diversity of personalities of the 4 Gospels and their writers.

I don’t know the religious or faith makeup of all the students in the 4 sections, but from what this group of pastors has learned, it is very diverse, and Religion 110 is a required course for all Newberry College students.  These 4 Pastor Professors acknowledge that teaching this student body is very different from teaching within the congregation, Sunday School or confirmation, for instance.  As an example, one of them shared, “I’ve never had a Muslim in my class before,” but here they do.  They each prefaced their class at the beginning of the semester with acknowledging that the students are coming to this class with different knowledge bases and experiences around Christianity, but that regardless of whether they believe and follow the tenants of Christianity, it’s important to know what is in this book, the Bible, because so many people follow this collection of documents.

In talking with the 4 pastors after class, Pastor Matt shared, “This is not something I ever envisioned myself doing, but I’ve gotten so much joy out of it.  It’s really cool to be at my alma mater and share this.”  Pastor Rebecca commented that, “being in touch with the biblical narrative in this way so in depth every week has helped my preaching,” to which they all echoed and agreed with.

None of them are quite sure where this partnership is headed as far as the connection between local congregations and the college.  Three of the four will be continuing into the Fall 2024, but Pastor Matt reflected, “This harkens back to what the beginnings of Newberry College was, the professors were local pastors, teaching preaching, and proclaiming, and we are getting to live into that.”

“If we want to be able to talk Bible to the world, we need to be able to not sound elitist and to share it in a way that can be heard at all levels, faith and scripture, and break it down to the basics without making people feel like, ‘I should have known that,’ and that is something teaching this course challenges us to do every day we stand up here,” said Pastor Rebecca.

I’m not a student in any of these classes obviously, but I am filled with so much hope to know that these 4 have come together, said yes to something new, and are engaging with an age group that is likely not as well represented in their congregations.  And honestly, I’m even more excited that three congregations in the community said yes.  It’s totally fine the way this works, but these three appropriately needed to go to their councils and share with them the opportunity, and sort of ask for permission.  AND THEY SAID YES!  There wasn’t a tight fist around “our pastor” but an openness to the ways in which their pastor is living out their call in a different way through this teaching opportuniy.  I guess everyone can read this story and find their own bright, warm, Holy Spirit, this is a beautiful reminder of why I’m still here.  For me, it’s the openness and willingness for the leadership of these three local congregations to say YES!

Yeah, it’s true.  Sometimes we have our head down and we get hung up on the budget in council meetings or spend too much time discussing whether we should use paper plates or real plates at the congregational meal, but also, if we stop for a second and look up, we can see these beautiful moments where the Spirit is present in an undeniable way, sometimes outside of the walls of the church, and we can feel the warmth of God’s love radiating from others and embracing us. These are the moments where I’m reminded why I’m still here.

I’m a millennial. I’m a lifelong Lutheran. I get it, more often than not it seems the church disappoints us, but I wanted to share with you one of the reasons why I’m still here and maybe it will be a good reminder for you as well.

Blessings abound!

Deacon Sarah Bowers

*If you have a story from your experience or your congregation where you feel it was one of these “light was breaking through moments”, let me know! I’d love to be able to share it! Email me at

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