On a beautiful Reformation Day, students and alumni gathered at Wartburg College for the Induction of the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Kleinhans as the Mike & Marge McCoy Family  Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission during the Reformation Day Celebration at Wartburg College, Waverly, IA.

It was a remarkable event: both in the generous endowment of the McCoy Family to make such a chair possible, and the combination of Lutheran Heritage and Mission to show that these two concepts are not mutually exclusive. We have some leaders who hold too fast to tradition and worry too much about matters of little consequence to today’s concerns and we have leaders eager to throw out everything that is distinctive about the Lutheran perspective in the name of “Mission”.  This chair helps bring these two important emphases in conversation.  As our new Presiding Bishop Eaton has said “As Lutherans we bring a unique and important voice to the dialogue”

Dr. Kleinhans has been a leader in articulating how Lutheran insights are relevant for today.

Her 2007 article “Lutheranism 101” remains the most requested reprint in the history of  The Lutheran Magazine.  The creation of this Department bodes well for the future of our Church.

Along with the outstanding music provided by Dr. Karen Black and the Wartburg Choir, directed by Dr. Lee Nelson, one of the highlights of the celebration was “A Conversation with Martin Luther.” This was an insightful dialogue with The Rev. Dr. Ramana Bouzard, Dean of the Chapel, Nicole Hanson, third year religion major, Bishop Steven Ullestad, and Dr. Kleinhans responding to quotes from Martin Luther.

Here is the quote Bishop Ullestad responded and his response:

If there is anything in us, it is not our own; it is a gift of God. But if it is a gift of God, then it is entirely a debt one owes to love, that is, to the law of Christ. And if it is a debt owed to love, then I must serve others with it, not myself.
Thus my learning is not my own; it belongs to the unlearned and is the debt I owe them…My wisdom belongs to the foolish, my power to the oppressed. Thus my wealth belongs to the poor, my righteousness to the sinners

Martin Luther, LW 27:393, Lectures on Galatians (Gal. 6:30)


“If there is anything in us, it is not our own; it is a gift of God.”

Mike and Marge McCoy know this as they have lived their entire lives shaped by this truth. This remarkable gift—and it is remarkable—is the first of its kind in Wartburg’s history.  Though it may be the most generous, it is not the first sacrificial gift they have made together and I’m sure it won’t be their last generous gift.  Their faith in Jesus Christ who gave his life for them has assured that that “if there is anything in us, it is not our won; it is a gift of God” The witness of Lives of generosity not only inspires us but allows them to celebrate the gifts of God that have been entrusted to them.

Dr. Kleinhans, the same is true for you.  The gifts of God are not your own but entrusted to your care.  They include:

A deep and profound love for Jesus, His church and His mission

A keen scholarly eye that gleans insights overlooked by others

A passion to teach the faith

A rare gift and ability to translate complicated theological concepts into the language of the people

These gifts are not your own but they are gifts that are treasured and celebrated as you offer them to God by serving others.

We celebrate today this chair of Lutheran Heritage and Mission.  Lutheran Heritage and Mission—inseparable gifts given by God and  made possible today and for further generations by Mike and Marge McCoy and stewarded with tenderness, passion and joy by Dr. Kit Kleinhans





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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




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