Class of 1963
Sorry to say, but there has not been much class news shared with your editor, Gary F. Anderson in the past few months. However, it is well known that many of our classmates have gone somewhere south (except for those who already live in southern climes!). Yours truly and spouse, Mary Ann Carlson Anderson, went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for two months. We were smart enough this year to have been gone for two of what are among the worst months in Minnesota's winter weather history. But we did get back in time to see some March snow.
Paul and Ruth (Anderson) Tillquist traveled to various parts of Florida, meeting up with friends and then having family join them. Dick and Mary (Carlstrom) Strand spend some of every winter in the Sunshine State, no doubt as do others. Oh yes, Mim Larson Stohl also enjoyed time in balmy Florida. To be sure, there were numerous classmates in Arizona, the Caribbean or anywhere south. If you had winter adventures to share, please do so for the next edition of our newsletter. Your news, good, bad, dull, exciting, happy or not so happy, is welcomed and needed.
Nancy Beck Strom and her husband, Richard, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last August. They live in Eagan, MN.
Dorothy “Jake” (Jacobson) Delegard tells us that she recently returned from a fantastic trip to Tanzania, which included all of the usual experiences: beautiful people, millions of exquisite animals, a fascinating blend of cultures, looks back at history, the wonderful terrain, and the Indian Ocean. Since mineral mining is expanding, animal poaching is ongoing, and a paved highway across the Serengeti migration path is to be built next year, this is the time to visit if you want to see this miraculous place. (Think of the American Buffalo, mining near the Boundary Waters, climate change.) And if you share my concerns about a new highway likely causing catastrophic animal deaths, visit the Save the Serengeti website and register your protest.
"Chasing Grace"-An Editorial by Steve Larson
Since I was a little boy I remember hearing in church how the Grace of God was everywhere and in every living thing. I heard the presence of God in every train whistle, as I laid in my bed (at 3), praying that my Dad would return from the war on the next train. It was that comforting presence that always seemed to be just a breath away, and I felt that I was never alone. As I grew, I was taught that my loving God was a companion just beyond my thoughts and, of course, as a Lutheran boy I heard about Grace every Sunday in church and Sunday school, never really being certain of its meaning. Because I lived in rural Minnesota it meant that Grace was available primarily to white Lutherans who went to church. (There were many Native Americans in my school, but I kind of thought they believed in buffalo and other animals as their God. We Lutherans weren’t really sure about Catholics and other religions either.
My experience at Gustavus certainly expanded my understanding of Grace. There were students from Africa and a few from Asia. We had a small mix of other cultures and some presence of diversity, but few Muslims and African Americans. I believed that other religions were really misguided and they didn’t have the same God. If you didn’t name Christ then you really weren’t on the right path. Most of my close friends claimed to have been “born again” and that act was the necessary step to salvation and eternal security.
It wasn’t really till I got to seminary, in good old Rock Island, that my awareness of that real presence expanded. Working as an orderly in an emergency room, while in seminary, meant dealing with African Americans, Latinos, and people from all parts of the globe and from every economic segment of life. It meant working and getting acquainted with steel workers, alcoholics, addicts, prostitutes, cocktail hostesses, bartenders, cons, and sometimes even criminals, not to mention motorcyclists, pregnant and runaway teenagers.
I did some of my own research on the presence of Grace by writing a paper for the course "Church and the City" on the feasibility of a ministry to the prostitutes on the Rock Island strip. I would sit at the “Rock Around the Clock" restaurant and interview women who were waiting for their next trick. I often discovered that they too knew of a loving presence even though they often didn’t call it God.
After seminary and ordination in Christ Chapel, I took a call to a changing neighborhood parish in Ft. Worth, Texas and lived in a very diverse community, racially and economically. There was a varied presence with the spiritual histories of the African Americans and Latinos and that presence seemed powerfully present in their souls. The church I served didn’t survive the riots of the late ʼ60s after a white bus driver shot an acting-out teenager in front of the church and the white members feared returning on most Sunday mornings.
The LCA sent me to the Urban Training Center in Chicago for a month where the first week was spent on the streets of Chicago, homeless and with only a social security card. Our task for the month long experience was to develop communications and relationships with three youth gangs and challenge them to become politically involved in their neighborhoods. Their passion was the survival of their families and their neighborhoods. Then I attended a Race Relations Seminar in Nashville, where some angry people burned the McDonalds across the street, yet there was a powerful ecumenical presence in the priests, nuns and religious people from every culture and tradition. The Grace of God was a powerful connection. My God got bigger and bigger realizing that Real Presence was in each one of these people regardless of what they called it (especially the homeless and the gang members). Our Christ was not exclusive to us Christians and other traditions the Real Presence was available to all, even Muslims and Buddhists and folks with no awareness of tradition.So after two years in a Lutheran parish I ventured to become the first Crisis Intervention Unit for the Ft. Worth P.D. Each night I responded to suicide attempts, domestic disturbances, and abandon/abused children. In between I would deal with the homeless and runaways. I was either praying on the way to a suicide attempt or hanging out in some bar talking to some disturbed or angry drunk who usually was carrying a piece. People on the street needed programs for dependent, neglected and runaway youth, as well as, drug programs and counseling. Everyone was in need of knowing a Real Presence. A couple of times Grace meant walking down the barrel of a gun knowing that Presence would keep me safe. Our worship became a meeting in a night club on Sunday afternoon (before the bar opened). The worship related to street people, cops, and bartenders and others who usually slept on Sunday morning or who were on the street most of each night. They were all hungry for Grace, hungry to know they were loved no matter what they had done or who they were.
I took a call to a parish in Berkeley, California which was somewhat diverse, but still very Lutheran. The church got involved with the Food and Shelter Project, serving the homeless, which often brought Berkeley professors and their families together with the homeless from Telegraph Avenue. Those relationships expanded the presence of Grace for many of the members and the seminary students from the seminary close by. Grace went beyond the Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists and Episcopalians involved in the project.
Since my move back to Texas, 20 years ago, I have experienced a Real Presence with the incarcerated in The Bastrop Federal Prison, the Austin State Jail, and the Travis County Jail. Four of us therapists ran groups for men and women from every culture and crime. They came from drug cartels and gangs with numerous religious traditions. Many found a presence in their relationships with each other and their developed communities. There seemed to be a strong connection in their relationships with each other and the connection went beyond money and drugs.
I have sat with people in therapy for 22 years now, helping them to know how to survive emotional fusion and codependency. Many would find a sponsor/and loving presence within themselves and some discovered that God is no farther away than their next breath or their next prayer or their next Yoga session. They didn't have to join a church, synagogue, mosque, or become “born again.” They didn’t have to commit to some tradition in order to become loved, forgiven or understood.
Al-Anon has been gift in my life for the past 4 years. There every person’s God is a Higher Power and it is about God "as we know him/her" and that doesn’t seem to divide people like some denominations and religions seem to do. In the Twelve Step Program there is no judgment and no cross talk, just Grace.
Thanks to Teilhard de Chardan, H Richard Niebuhr, Matthew Fox (Creation Centered Spirituality), A.D. Mattson and others of my heroes; my God has become as big as the universe and that Grace Presence is in all of life. Time in China, The Amazon Jungle, and Africa has helped me to discover that Grace is present in all people regardless of what they call it. My current mentor is a poet named Mary Oliver. She knows this also and captures this real Presence in all her work. It is important to us Lutherans to remember that our baptism was an “outward sign of an inward union.” That union was there at our birth and the presence is in all of life.One of these days I get to chase Grace into another exciting world, A Real Presence only known in the Light of the World. And, by the way, I realize I really don’t have to chase Grace. It is always in the next nanosecond. Looking forward!!
Thanks to Steve for his editorial. Your editorial is invited for future issues of the newsletter. We have a fascinating class of people who have done amazing things and have many insights, experiences and views to share. You are welcome to submit an editorial for publishing in the next issue. Just send it, along with any news you may have about yourself or others, to me, Gary Anderson, at email@example.com.
Easter blessings to all,
1963 Communications Chair
Rebecca M. Bergman Named 17th President of Gustavus Adolphus College
The Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College has elected Rebecca M. Bergman to be the College’s 17th president. Bergman is the first woman in the 152-year history of the College to be named president and will succeed Jack R. Ohle, who is retiring after serving as president of the College since July 2008. Bergman will officially take office July 1, 2014.
Bergman, who has served on the College’s Board of Trustees since 2007, has spent the past 26 years at Medtronic, Inc., including the last 14 years as a senior executive. She currently serves as Vice President of Research, Technology, and Therapy Delivery Systems for the company’s Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management (CRDM) business, where she leads a research and development team of scientists and engineers.
Travel with Gustavus - Exploring Luther’s Reformation – Oct. 4-16
Journey on an educational tour focused on Luther’s Reformation with prominent Lutheran scholar, Gustavus professor emeritus of Religion Rev. Dr. Darrell Jodock. Travel to Germany and Poland from October 4 to 16, 2014 to learn about the life and teachings of Martin Luther, along with the ongoing significance of his theology. The trip is open to Gustavus alumni, parents, friends, and non-Gusties. For more information, please visit gustavus.edu/president/tours/ or email Professor Jodock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration deadline is May 31.
April 16 – Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast featuring Marcia Bunge, professor in religion
April 29 - Chicago Chapter Gathering
April 30 – 34th Annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference
May 30-31 – Reunion Weekend