Tending to Matters of Spiritual Formation

Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, has a rich tradition of educating people for ministry. The institution overseeing the education and training of pastors and church leaders has a pastor of its own. Since the history goes back to 1869, all of the seminary pastors have been men. Until 2013.

Pastor Laura Thelander is the Seminary Pastor at Luther Seminary. She oversees the daily chapels, pastoral care, and participates in the aspects of seminary life, intersecting the administration and the student body. During chapel, you’ll see her preaching some days, and on other days, she is often playing trumpet in the brass ensemble—made up of former Seminary Pastor Robert Brusic, her husband, Pastor Arthur Murray and Seminary President, Robin Steinke. 

As she grew up in Nebraska, Laura noted how playing the trumpet gave her an opportunity to develop her confidence alongside her male counterparts. She remembers fondly playing in countless church events as a young person. On one occasion, she mentioned to her own pastor she was thinking about becoming a “pastorette”, testing his reaction in a day when women pastors were few and far between. She has always felt a sense of empowerment of possibility in her own life and for others. 


Her call to ministry was nurtured over the years in many ways, through a family of faith, and an experience with Lutheran Volunteer Corp (LVC). While a student at Luther Seminary, she was also nurtured in spiritual formation and now finds herself in the very position where she can assist others in their call to ministry and furthering faith formation.

Pastor Thelander graduated from St. Olaf and Luther Seminary.  She was ordained and served a Minnesota congregation before undertaking Ph.D. work in Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS). Near the end of her Ph.D. work, she served as an interim seminary chaplain at PTS. Laura also took a call as a pastor in New Jersey prior to her position at Luther Seminary. Recently, Laura and her husband became a "clergy couple" when he was ordained as a Lutheran Pastor.