President Paula J. Carlson has her last Chapel talk before retiring


Danica Nolton (‘22) | Photo Bureau

President Paula J. Carlson, Luther’s 10th president, will be retiring in the spring of 2019.

Linh Do, Staff Writer

President Paula J. Carlson gave her last Chapel talk at 10:30 a.m. May 1 in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall. The service featured Nordic Choir and the Jazz Orchestra. Her talk was inspired by the scripture reading from Isaiah 30:18-21.

College Pastor Mike Blair invited Carlson earlier this semester to speak on May 1. Blair thought Chapel in early May would provide an opportunity for Carlson to reflect with the Luther community.

“President Carlson focused on themes of gratitude for the many gifts of the Luther community and on God’s faithful promise to guide us in the shared call to serve with distinction for the common good,” Blair said. “She drew from the book of Isaiah to lift up themes of God’s grace, [and] mercy as guideposts in our journeys of faith and learning. I hope the community remembers the call to trust God in the midst of transitions and change and that the themes of gratitude, calling, and service President Carlson emphasized will continue to be guideposts and markers for the Luther community.”

Carlson shared her gratitude for her years at Luther and she also regarded this last Chapel talk as a special time.

“In my years at Luther, I’ve been grateful to the college pastors for inviting me to speak,” Carlson said. “When Pastor Mike invited me to speak today and I read this passage assigned for this stage, [I] remembered Phillips and James, I thought how wonderful would a moving and powerful passage given to me to reflect on with you as I say goodbye to the Luther community.”

After the scripture reading from the book of Isaiah, Carlson gave her thanks to the Chapel and Sunday evening Focus communities, the college pastors, and Luther ensembles who have performed at Chapels. She went on along with the message from Isaiah, reminding attendees of God’s care for everyone, for communities, and also reminded community members of God’s call to walk on paths of justice, mercy, and grace throughout our lives.

“This promise of a word from God, guiding us on our ways, is especially powerful to me today as I anticipate graduating from Luther with the class of 2019,” Carlson said. “As I think, too, about our commitment as the college to learn in community, to discern our calling and to serve with distinction for the common good. At its core, college is about learning, discovery, growth, change, formation, and preparation.”

From Isaiah’s reading, President Carlson believes that within the context of Luther College, everyone should live faithfully as individuals and as a community so that God can support us for whichever path we choose.

“At Luther, our mission statement is like the word behind us, calling us to live faithfully our college’s core values and commitment,” Carlson said. “Over the past five years, I’ve been privileged each day to work with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college, who inspire me with your passion and commitment to live faithfully the college’s core values and commitments, and to use your talent and learning to better our community and the world.”

President Carlson also mentioned the new strategic plan titled “Inspire. Empower. Engage.” as a reference for the passion of commitment of people at Luther to learning, community, inclusive excellence, joyful stewardship, and innovation. The reading, together with the plan for upcoming change at Luther, reminded Carlson of her speech five years ago her inauguration, which was also from the Book of Isaiah. She ended with hope for trust, care, and faithfulness to God.

“So many of us over many years graduated from Luther and go out to embrace new calling in new community and new places,” Carlson said. “As I, too, graduate from Luther, I’m grateful for my years here. I will pray for God to continue blessing on this place and for God’s blessing on those of us who will soon set off on a new path.”

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