Sept-Oct Teaching Faculty

September 2-6, 2019

Wes Howard-Brook & Sue Ferguson Johnson

Howard-Brook_Wes_and_Ferguson_Johnson_Sue.jpgWes Howard-Brook has been teaching, writing and living at the intersection of church, academy and the world since 1988. After a career as an attorney for the US federal government and Washington state governments, Wes left law practice in 1985 to earn a Master of Divinity degree at Seattle University. He has been teaching Bible and theology at Seattle University since 2003.

He has written, co-written or co-edited seven books, including two on the Gospel of John: Becoming Children of God: John’s Gospel and Radical Discipleship and John’s Gospel and the Renewal of the Church.  He is co-author of Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now. Wes’ recent project is the two-volumes Come Out, My People!: God’s Call Out of Empire In the Bible and Beyond. and Empire Baptized: How “Christianity” Embraced What Jesus Rejected, 2nd-5th Centuries. He has also written for numerous publications, including Sojourners, The Other Side, Tikkun Daily, and several Catholic Worker newspapers.

Sue Ferguson Johnson is a spiritual director of individuals and couples, retreat leader and Scripture teacher of many years’ experience. Formerly a psychologist, Sue left her practice to engage in full-time ministry in 2001. Sue was raised in the United Methodist Church, but with Wes is now at home in the Mennonite Church, where she has been instrumental in reshaping the local church from a committee model to a prayer-Scripture-discernment model.

Together, they share the ministry “Abide in Me,” grounded in the imagery from the Gospel of John that calls disciples to integrate the inner and outer, the mystical and prophetic, the private and public journeys. Every Thursday since  2004 they have hosted a group in their home, in which people join for prayer, Bible study, laughter and communion. They also teach and lead retreats around the Puget Sound area and across the US. Together, they have written lectionary reflections for Pax Christi USA and Radical

Sue and Wes together have five children, ages 26-41, and four grandchildren. They live outside Seattle on the edge of Tiger Mountain, where they walk most days. They seek to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in all that they do, in proclaiming and embodying Jesus’ Word of passionate purity in love and truth for all creation.

 “And God saw that it was good!”: creation stories in Genesis 1-2
We’ll begin this week exploring the powerful, poetic creation story in Genesis 1 and its more intimate follow-up in Genesis 2, as the vision of God’s intention for life on earth within the loving embrace of the Creator.

The “curse”: the tragic narrative of relationships broken by human willfulness apart from God
Genesis 3 tells a story often associated with terms such as “the Fall” or “original sin.” We’ll look and listen to how this story, heard in its original cultural context, seeks to explain the tragic nature of humanity’s broken relationships with God, each other and the earth. 

“Your love is better than wine”: Song of Songs as imaginative healing of broken relationships among God, people and creation
Centuries after the book of Genesis was written during the Babylonian exile, an anonymous poet penned the beautiful, erotic love story known as “Song of Songs.” We’ll explore this narrative as the poet’s imaginative healing of the relationships broken by “the curse.”

Wine, weddings and demolished temples: John 2 as Jesus’ call to embody abundant joy while calling out those who restrict joy in God’s name
Jesus in the Gospel of John begins his public ministry by providing overflowing wine at a wedding and then confronting the Jerusalem elite for making God’s home a shopping mall. We’ll engage how these twinned stories express the core of both Jesus’ and our own call to live in the realm of God’s abundant gift.

“Woman why are you weeping?”: the garden of resurrection in John 20
We complete our journey “from garden to garden” with the poignant story of the risen Jesus’ encounter Mary Magdalene. We will see and hear how resurrection is the key to our hope of healed relationships among people, the earth and God.

Minnie Chung

Minnie Chung has been a Registered Nurse in various fields, i.e. psychiatry, oncology, surgery, ophthalmology, for 19 years. She came into nursing wanting to help others and found joy in doing so. In the process, nevertheless, she herself experienced loss of meaning and also noticed the same phenomenon in many other professionals. She studied bioethics to explore if she could address this issue through ethics but found the topic lacking. Later she realized that what’s missing in the lives of professionals is their connection to themselves and to something Greater. Her goal, in completing a master’s degree at Seattle University, is to facilitate workshops / retreats for professionals for rekindling and reconnecting with their spirituality to address their loss of meaning and to increase their overall sense of being. Minnie Chung was born and raised in South Korea, where the teaching of Taoism and Buddhism is in the fabric of everyday lives. She also has been a devout student of Bodywork, such as Taichi and Yoga. She attended the Energy Healer program in Sedona, Arizona in 2001, received Yoga Teacher Education Certification in India in 2009, and 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher training in Washington in 2012. As a volunteer, she taught English in Vietnam in 2010 and Yoga for Street Yoga in 2015. She also taught English as a Second Language in Korea and taught yoga at Two Dog yoga studio for two years. She led a spiritual retreat for the Seattle University Divinity Graduate Program as a retreat facilitator in 2018.

I-Thou in relating with myself
We live in a world where we are taught to divide between good and bad, thus fail to become a whole human being (It-It). Through this session, we learn to explore, learn and accept who we are, both light and darkness. We gain insight of becoming who we are meant to be, to be of service.

I-Thou in relating with others
When we encounter others, how we relate to others as either It or You forms not only the relationships with others but also who we are as beings. Through this session, we learn how to turn our encounter with others as spiritual practice, therefore finding meaning in everyday life.

I-Thou in relating with environment

We are facing more consequences from global warming every day around the world. Through this session, we will acknowledge all of us, i.e., human beings, animals, nature, as one community and learn to stand together as such in a meaningful way.

Bernie Asher

Asher_Bernie.jpgGuest Village Musician
Bernhard “Bernie” Asher followed a call to become a cantor after a lifetime as a percussionist, and a career in Information Technology.  Bernie earned a Master of Sacred Music degree in Choral Conducting from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  A cooperative program between Luther Seminary and St. Olaf College, Bernie studied with Paul Westermeyer, Anton Armstrong, Christopher Aspaas, and James Bobb. 


Bernie studies leading “paperless song” with Music that Makes Community, and has led congregations in many song styles since 2012. Bernie has been Choir Director and cantor at Christ’s Community Moravian Church in Maple Grove, MN, since 2012, and has led and played worship music throughout the Twin Cities.  Bernie believes that anyone can sing when given the opportunity and encouragement. He embraces Martin Luther’s belief that “next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise,” and St. Augustine’s observation that “whoever sings [to God in worship] prays twice.”   Bernie has experienced the transformative power of music in everything from Renaissance motets to Hip-Hop settings of the Psalms.  Bernie lives in Minneapolis, MN, with his wife, and enjoys singing hymns and telling “Dad” jokes with his 22 year-old daughter and 17-year old son.

September 9-13, 2019

Lacy Clark Ellman

Clark_Ellman_Lacy.jpgLacy Clark Ellman holds a Master’s degree in Theology and Culture and a certificate in Spiritual Direction, was selected as a New Contemplative by Spiritual Directors International in 2015, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry. Professionally, she is a spiritual director, maker, and facilitator who speaks the language of pilgrimage and is always ready for the next adventure, having traveled to over twenty countries on four continents. Personally, she is a lover of food, books, spirituality, growing and making things, far-off places and lovely spaces. While traveling, you’ll find her wandering museums and markets, exploring cities by foot, and sampling local fare. At home in Seattle, WA, she loves to garden, take walks in the nearby forest, and go on armchair journeys through her favorite shows from across the pond. Learn more about Lacy's work at

Holden Village Pilgrimage
Which journey are you on? Holden Village has become a pilgrimage destination of sorts for generations of seekers, with many making special journeys to Holden Village to disconnect from day-to-day life and experience the rest and spiritual renewal that the Cascade Mountains and the Village community have to offer. Now you can make the journey with a guided pilgrimage experience. Join fellow Villagers for a week of intentional pilgrimage as we allow the wilderness to guide us to the wilds of our soul, forming a community of seekers and discerning where we are on our individual journeys and where God might be leading next.

Rev. David Hahn, PhD.

Rev. David Hahn, PhD. serves the NW WA synod as the Living Local Coordinator, an intentional discernment process for discovering what God is already up to in neighborhoods of congregations, and helping them to join those movements of God’s Spirit. Ordained since 1997, David has served a variety of congregational settings. He’s an adjunct faculty at Luther Seminary, Seattle University, and Rochester University (Seminary of Church of Christ, non-instrumental) teaching courses in the Missional Church, Holy Spirit, organizational leadership and evangelism. David is not new to the Holden community, and throughout the years has been present as a volunteer, guest, and teacher. His most memorable experience at Holden was when he sold himself at the 1998 Jubilee auction on the Hotel deck where his wife, Kacey, purchased him for $60, $5 more than the canned ham with the key fetched! He enjoys cooking and, as his family will tell you, has more than a little obsession watching episodes on Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. He lives in Renton, WA with his wife, Rev. Kacey Hahn, their two children Derek and Grace, and their adopted pit-mix rescue dog, Koko.

Session: Living Word: “Unity of Love as an Act of Embracing Difference”

There is delight, disruption, and demand to embrace the differences in our world today, and it is there we discover gift, loss, and responsibility. This task is given new perspective when we recall that the resources of the Christian tradition root us as people of faith in the ways we embrace difference. This week’s Living Word explores the qualities and configurations for Embracing Differences in our world, while remaining centered in Christ and the Spirit. Each day we will unpack a different relational dimension of this important, necessary and holy work.


Bekker_Gus_photo.jpgGus has worked in the natural resources field as both a Forester and Wildlife Biologist since the late 1970’s. He started his natural resources career on the Boise National Forest (NF) in Idaho working as a Forester for the Forest Service and then moved to the Helena NF where he worked as a firefighter on the Helena Hotshot Fire crew. As a Research Wildlife Biologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific NW Research Station in Olympia, Washington, Gus studied Spotted Owl, Flying Squirrel, Pine Marten, and Woodrats on the Olympic Peninsula, Umpqua NF in South Central Oregon, and the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie NF in Washington.

Gus completed two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador and grew up in Colombia, South America; his family is from Guatemala Central America. He is the founder and President of “El Sendero”, a backcountry ski and snowshoe club and leads backcountry winter trips for the club during the winter months. Gus also teaches both Nordic and Alpine skiing as a certified ski instructor and works summers as a whitewater raft guide. Gus serves as a board member of the Alpine Lakes Protection Society and the Friends of the Enchantments, member of the Washington Outdoor Alliance, member of the OWNF Provisional Advisory Committee, and member of the Wenatchee Valley Outdoor Alliance. Gus has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in both Wildlife Management and Forest Management from the University of Idaho.   Gus is a citizen of nature, a naturalist, an environmental activist, and a defender of all places wild and desolate.

Bears of the North Cascades:
Two bear species reside in Washington State – Black bears and Grizzly bears. This presentation examines bear ecology, behavior, and identification. We take a close up look at bears and how to coexist among them in bear country; tips on hiking and camping in bear country and how to tell the difference between a Black bear and a Grizzly bear. See lots of hands on items such as a bear fur, skull, teeth and footprint casts.

Cougars of the North Cascades:
Washington State is home to an estimated 2,500 cougars. Native to Washington, the cougar, or Mountain Lion, is the largest cat carnivore in the state. Sleek and graceful the cougar is a solitary and secretive animal rarely seen in the wild. This presentation reviews cougar ecology and behavior. What do cougars eat? How many young do they have? How long do cougars live? Where do they live? What have we learned from the most recent research? Come and find out the answers to these questions and more.

Wolves of the North Cascades:
Wolves have faced the wrath and scorn of mankind for hundreds of years. The Gray Wolfs’ remarkable comeback in Washington State is one of the great conservation successes of our time. A new public ethic toward the wolf and other endangered species has given new life to wolves in Washington State. This presentation examines wolf ecology, history, and preservation and opens a discussion on the value of preserving this and other endangered species.

Land of the Lost Wolves:
This special BBC documentary film was filmed right here in the spectacular North Cascades and will be shown in two parts. At a time when wildlife is disappearing across the planet, one animal is making a comeback – the wolf. “Land of the Lost Wolves” follows the return of a very special wolf pack to the area just North of Holden Village. This wolf pack is the first to return to Washington State in over 70 years. Camped in the bitter cold for four weeks, a team of wolf experts and wildlife cameramen discover that some of the pack has already been lost to illegal poaching, what some locals call “shoot, shovel, and shut up”. Can a wolf pack survive in the North Cascades? The team chases exciting new leads and finds there is a glimmer of hope for wolf recovery on the horizon.

Wolverines of the North Cascades:
In the dead of winter wolverine mothers dig elaborate dens to raise and protect their young while the males roam vast territories in search of food and shelter. Wolverines are the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. They range across portions of Europe, Asia and North America. They live in forests, tundra, and cold snowy mountains. The wolverine was never very common in the United States and nearly decimated in the early twentieth century. Today, it is estimated that only 250-300 individuals live in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington combined.  What happened to cause the decline of these magnificent animals?  We will examine the life history of the wolverine in the Pacific Northwest and particularly its future in the North Cascades of Washington.

Bernie Asher

Asher_Bernie.jpgGuest Village Musician
Bernhard “Bernie” Asher followed a call to become a cantor after a lifetime as a percussionist, and a career in Information Technology.  Bernie earned a Master of Sacred Music degree in Choral Conducting from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  A cooperative program between Luther Seminary and St. Olaf College, Bernie studied with Paul Westermeyer, Anton Armstrong, Christopher Aspaas, and James Bobb. 

Bernie studies leading “paperless song” with Music that Makes Community, and has led congregations in many song styles since 2012. Bernie has been Choir Director and cantor at Christ’s Community Moravian Church in Maple Grove, MN, since 2012, and has led and played worship music throughout the Twin Cities.  Bernie believes that anyone can sing when given the opportunity and encouragement. He embraces Martin Luther’s belief that “next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise,” and St. Augustine’s observation that “whoever sings [to God in worship] prays twice.”   Bernie has experienced the transformative power of music in everything from Renaissance motets to Hip-Hop settings of the Psalms.  Bernie lives in Minneapolis, MN, with his wife, and enjoys singing hymns and telling “Dad” jokes with his 22 year-old daughter and 17-year old son.

September 16-20, 2019

Allison Leonhart

Leonhart_Allison.jpgAlison Leonhart is a budding theologian with an interest in a career teaching feminist theology. Born and raised in Iowa, Alison went to Wartburg College where she double majored in History and Religion. In 2016, she started her Masters of Divinity at Candler School of Theology – Emory University and she will graduate this upcoming May 2019. After graduation she plans to go into the workforce for a couple years before returning back to school for a PhD in order to teach at a college or university. Academics aside, for three summers Alison has worked with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks where she has developed a passion for the outdoors and creation care. Her passion for the outdoors and interest in feminist theology will be reflected in her course titled Basics in Eco-feminist Theology.
Basics of Eco-feminist Theology
This class will explain the founding ideas of eco-feminist theology. First, there will be an examination of how and why the field of study emerged. Next, eco-feminist theology will be broken down into its three parts of ecology, feminism, and theology and shown how each part contributes to the whole. Lastly, different theologian’s takes on eco-feminist theology will be studied as well as ways in which participants can implement the theology they have learned in their real lives.

Nick & Elizabeth Turman-Bryant

Turman-Bryant_Nick.jpgNick is a PhD candidate in Systems Science at Portland State University. As one of the primary data analysts for the Sustainable Water, Energy, and Environmental Technologies Lab (SWEET Lab), Nick uses machine learning to derive actionable insights from sensors that are installed on cookstoves, latrines, borehole pumps, and handpumps in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. The near-time data from these sensors are used to improve maintenance and operation of these devices, to evaluate outcomes and impacts from energy, water, and sanitation interventions, and to enable novel financing mechanisms through carbon and health credit markets. Before moving to Portland, Nick worked with the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) at Humboldt State University, focusing on market support and quality assurance mechanisms for solar lanterns in Kenya. Nick is particularly passionate about how we use energy as a society and the impacts on climate and ecosystems. As a person of faith, Nick is committed to translating and disseminating information from the scientific community about climate change, energy use, and development so that it can be understood and acted upon by religious communities.

Turman-Bryant_ELizabeth.jpgAs a child of missionaries, Elizabeth spent her first 18 years outside the US and intimately knows what it feels like to be an outsider. After graduating from Regent College with a masters in theology, she worked for eight years at Tierra Nueva Ministry in Burlington, WA as a community organizer/jail chaplain/pastoral advocate for marginalized women. Since leaving full time ministry, she has channeled her energy into writing on hospitality and bridge building within the broader and polarized church and raising two energetic children. Elizabeth and her husband Nick are a part of Springwater, a Christian intentional community, in Portland, Oregon. Elizabeth is currently serving on the leadership team for the Nurturing Communities Network which is a support network for Christian intentional communities around North America.

Redefining Development: A Critical Look at International Development Past, Present, and Future
Traditional categories of first- and third-world countries are out-dated, and the concept of development itself is difficult to define with inequality within countries often out-pacing inequality between countries. Using key insights from Hans Rosling's book, Factfulness, this short session will take a look at how the field of development studies is evolving and how our perceptions of global development can be informed--or impeded!--by our assumptions about poverty, change, and societal progress.

Sustainable Water, Sanitation, and Energy Services in a Complex World
One billion people still lack access to clean water. Two billion people do not have access to a decent toilet, and three billion people use biomass for cooking and heating. The world has made a lot of progress since 2000 when the Millennium Development Goals were first announced, yet there are inequalities that persist for the most basic household services. In this session we'll discuss the current state of water, energy, and sanitation services worldwide, the difficulties associated with monitoring progress, and the importance of systems thinking in achieving sustainable services.

Radical Hospitality for the Rest of Us
For the New Testament church, hospitality was a central part of following Jesus. Deeply shaped by scriptures like Matthew 25, early disciples lived with a responsibility toward the stranger that played a transformative role in their personal discipleship, community life, and society. Today hospitality for the poor and the stranger has largely been relegated to sodalic (missionally oriented) expressions of the church—monastic orders, para-church organizations, and even new monastic communities. While these prophetic examples are challenging and inspiring, they often feel out of reach for the average Christian participating in a local church with the constraints of work and family. However, there are many congregational churches in North America that are quietly practicing radical hospitality each week, welcoming the stranger in the form of the poor, prisoners, refugees, and orphans. Elizabeth researched five of these congregations and through that process gleaned seven common characteristics of hospitable congregations.  This session will cover the historical roots of Christian hospitality and the practicalities of creating a welcoming congregation in a world of increasing hostility towards the stranger.

Roy & Nancy Carroll

Guest Village Musicians
Carroll_Roy.jpgAs teacher and musician, Roy W. Carroll has been involved in church music since his grade school days.  Among his first musical memories is that of singing hymns at home and church with his parents and brother.  Piano study began early as well, which eventually lead him to accompanying choirs  at church and school, and the study of organ by his junior year in high school.  Blessed to have been encouraged and inspired by excellent teachers during those years and then in college and university as well, Roy earned his Bachelor of Music in choral music education and piano/organ from Muskingum University (OH), Master of Music in organ performance and sacred music from Kent State University, and his Ph.D. doctoral degree in music history, organ and sacred music from the University of Iowa. He has served congregations in a diversity of denominations in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  His school teaching experience includes grades 7-12, undergraduate.

Carroll_Nancy.jpgIn Lutheran churches and seminaries as well as in ecumenical settings, Nancy’s experience as a church musician has focused on leading and encouraging congregations’ musical participation in worship. She has a special interest in folk music of the Appalachian mountain region, and in shape note hymnody. Nancy graduated from Muskingum College (now University) with a Bachelor of Music Education degree, Kent State University with a Master of Music in flute performance and woodwind pedagogy, and from the University of Iowa with a Master of Arts in Library Science. Dual careers as a musician and academic librarian have included teaching flute and woodwinds at several colleges in Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as serving as an academic librarian and library director. Most recently she was the archivist Wartburg Theological Seminary and Region 5 of the ELCA, as well as volunteer musician at Wartburg Seminary where her husband Roy Carroll, served as Cantor and organist.

September 23-27, 2019

Holly Hughes

Hughes_Holly.jpgHolly J. Hughes received her B.A. from St. Olaf College and her MFA from Pacific Lutheran University, has heard about Holden Village for three decades so is happy to experience it at last. She is the co-author of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, editor of the award-winning anthology, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease and co-editor of Contemplative Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education. She is also the author of the poetry collection Sailing by Ravens and the fine-art poetrychapbook Passings, which received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2017.  She is a grateful recipient of residencies from Hedgebrook, Playa, the Anderson Center, Vermont Studio Center, Centrum and Artsmith.

Session: Arriving Here: Exploring Our Inner & Outer Landscapes through Mindful Writing
By coming to Holden Village, we give ourselves the gift of contemplative time in the wild beauty of the North Cascade Mountains. How can we connect deeply with both our inner and outer landscapes while we’re here?  And how will we maintain these connections when we return home to our busy lives? The practices of mindfulness and writing each offer valuable tools for honing our awareness of the self and the world; by combining these practices, we gain not just the benefits of each but also valuable tools for navigating our complex, fast-paced lives.  Using the book she co-authored with Brenda Miller, The Pen & The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, Holly Hughes will offer a sample of mindfulness and writing exercises we can practice to be more fully attentive to our inner lives and the wild beauty of the North Cascades, as well as practices we can take home. We’ll begin with an introduction to mindfulness practice, including both sitting and walking meditation, followed by a variety of easy writing practices.  If the weather allows, we’ll take our practice outdoors, walking the trails around Holden Village and experiencing nature first hand by observing, sketching and writing in the field. We’ll also try the contemplative practice of lectia divina, reading poems together, letting them inspire our own poetry or prose in response.  No writing or meditation experience needed. Please bring a small journal and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Rev. Mark Gravrock

Gravlock_Mark.jpgMark Gravrock, teacher and pastor, has found the same vital center of joy in each setting of ministry:  the place where the living word of God intersects with real, concrete daily life.  After a first nine years of parish ministry (rural Iowa and Seattle), Mark taught Bible, Greek, and Christian spirituality for 22 years at Trinity Lutheran College, Issaquah.  When the college moved to Everett, Mark and his wife Peggy Ellingsen relocated to Montana, where he has served parishes in Arlee and Kalispell, done hospice chaplaincy and spiritual direction, and taught for the Montana Synod.  Recently retired, he and Peggy look excitedly to God’s next chapter.

Naming the Beast:  The Bible’s Endgame, and Life in 2019
In our climate of political and social divisiveness, it’s tempting to use the Bible to draw lines of judgment and to “name the Beast.”  What is the Bible’s Endgame?  How does it play out in 2019?  And what does Jesus have to say about it all?

Rev. Mark R. Ramseth and Rev. Carol L. Ramseth

Ramseth_Mark.jpgMark is former bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and President Emeritus of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH.  He has a deep commitment to the advancement of theological education and the exercise of hope in our time.  His spouse is Carol, an ELCA pastor. 

Ramseth_Carol.jpgCarol is a former high school teacher (reading and English).  In 2002 she began studies for ordained ministry and in 2007 she was ordained and served three congregations in the Columbus, OH area until retirement in 2013.   Carol and Mark are parents to four daughters, and grandparents to three granddaughters.  They live in Bozeman, MT and worship with the faith community of Christ the King Lutheran Church.  For fun Mark accredits seminaries for the Association of Theological Schools, drives old cars and plays the cello.  Carol and Mark together hike two hours in the mountains every day.

Session: Destination North
“Destination North” (Peter Wohlleben) is an exploration into avenues that may expand our understanding of God, and how such understanding strikes in us a definitive mode of “sublime, solemn stillness.” (Christian Wiman). The “direction” will serve not only as an exercise into quiet stillness, but as a conversational, felt reality into where the dynamic is that enhances spirit and being, and so a “sublime, solemn, stillness.”  How is God experienced and known as a palpable reality in life?  Is God inclined to visit an unsuspecting soul “like a blast of cold weather”? (Christian Wiman).   And is it this the sort of blast that makes God possible?  Central to the conversation is contemplating the sense of presence which may feel like that “blast of cold weather” –or like the felt breezes of change into fall—both which serve to press a person “north.”

Thomas Schmidt

Guest Village Musician
Schmidt_Thomas.jpgThomas Schmidt was cantor at St Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City for 25 years until his retirement two years ago.  The musical repertoire that he incorporated there ran the gamut from Gregorian and Russian chant to choral masterpieces of every age, including contemporary composers, spirituals and gospel music.  As part of his work at St Peter's he wrote a substantial amount of liturgical music as well as works for choir and small choral ensembles.  The musical high point of the year was always the singing of Bach's St Matthew Passion on Good Friday.  Before his time at St Peter's he was a professor in the music department of Concordia College, Bronxville, NY, for 20 years.  In addition, as a professional pianist he toured with the Arden Trio for 25 years and made a number of CDs. He is presently pianist of the Omni Quartet.  He has been an active member of ALCM and the AGO, serving as a board member of the ALCM and organist and workshop presenter at various conferences.  As a choral director, in addition to conducting St Peter's choir, he was director of the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association for the past 10 years and assistant conductor of the Gregg Smith Singers.  His Bachelor of Music in church music is from Valparaiso; his Master's in piano from the University of Wisconsin; and his Doctor of Musical Arts in piano is from Yale.  His wife Kathy was assistant to the bishop for finance and properties in the New York Metropolitan Synod until just retiring in September.  Their daughter Miriam is a pastor in Big Sky, Montana, and daughter Rosemary is a legal assistant in Renton, Washington.  However, their grandchildren, Urusula (8), Corwin (6), and Esme (4) are the joy of their lives these days!

September 30-October 12, 2019

Dr. Steve Arnold

Arnold_Steve.jpgDr. Steve Arnold is a Deacon of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is a member of the Lutheran Diaconal Association.   Steve is certified as a Director of Christian Education and as a Lutheran Teacher and has served the Church through parish ministry, teaching at a Lutheran high school, and serving on the faculty of a Lutheran university where he taught parish leadership and lifespan faith formation.  Steve currently serves as a Chaplain at a senior living facility that encompasses assisted living, memory care, transitional care and long term care.  Steve is trained as a certified dementia practitioner and as a Spiritual Director, in the Christian tradition. Steve is noted as a teacher, retreat leader, speaker, author, chaplain, tour leader and bridge-builder. His work has included a number of cross-cultural and international experiences of bringing Christians together from around the world to learn and grow together. Steve’s doctoral work and research are in the areas of adult development, with emphases in gerontology. Specific application of these studies have been made to transitions in faith formation throughout the life span. Special focus in the research has been to equip adults for developing increased responsibility for personal life and development in the third-third of life.

Aging with Boldness: Launching Into the Third-Third of Life

Life is a journey. Aging begins at conception and the issues of aging develop across the lifespan. Each new chapter introduces new opportunities to live with boldness and dignity. In their time together, participants will explore the principles and frameworks for aging successfully and with a sense of adventure and hope. This will be an informational time and a reflective time and is an experience for all ages.

October 7-12, 2019

John Thompson

Thompson_John.jpgJohn Thompson has a fine arts degree from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. He started carving in 1990, making a carousel in Missoula Montana. He is now a printmaker that spends most of his time carving wood and some stone carving. He has been teaching printmaking workshops since 1980, and carving workshops since the early 2000s.  You can see some of his work at

Beginning Relief Carving
The sessions will focus on safety, tools, learning a bit about the wood, and hands-on tool use. The sessions will continue with fine tuning designs and carving time.  The sessions will conclude with problem solving, demo of "carving in the round,” how to sharpen tools and the types of tools one might want to purchase.

John Hergert

Hergert_John.JPGJohn has been an ordained pastor for over 35 years in the ELCA. He was raised in a small town in Eastern WA surrounded by bountiful farmland nurtured by the immigrants who came there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, made up of ethnic Germans who had lived in Russia. John attended Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas receiving a BA in Theology and completed his MDIV at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. He has served congregations in PA, MD, ID, WA and now AK, mostly as a regularly called pastor, but has done four interims, including Shishmaref, AK. He has been actively involved in social justice issues, traveling to South Africa/Namibia during the Apartheid regime. He has marched and spoken at events calling for justice. He was once arrested at the South African Embassy in DC along with 80 other Lutherans. He lived in Holden Village for over a year before, during, and after the Wolverine Fire.  John has a passion for writing and speaking truth to power and the Gospel.

Session: "Living, Listening & Learning in Shishmaref AK
During a six month period in 2019 John served as an interim pastor in the northernmost congregation in the ELCA, Shishmaref, AK. This is a community that is endangered by rising sea levels caused by climate change. He will tell of his deep transformation during the time he served as their pastor. He will speak of hearing the stories of these ancient and wonderful people who see their way of life being destroyed.