S.6 E.8: From Economics Major to Senior Pastor

Learning for Life @ Gustavus podcast host Greg Kaster interviews alumnus, pastor, and former Board of Trustees Chair Rev. Dr. Dan Poffenberger '82.
Posted on January 8th, 2021 by

The Rev. Dr. Dan Poffenberger, Gustavus Class of ’82 and past chair of the Gustavus Board of Trustees, talks about his unplanned path to the Lutheran ministry, his work as Senior Pastor of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Prior Lake, Minnesota, virtual Sunday services amid a pandemic, church membership past and present, and the compatibility of religion and science.

Season 6, Episode 8: From Economics Major to Senior Pastor

Greg Kaster:
Learning for Life at Gustavus is produced by JJ Akin and Matthew Dobosenski of Gustavus Office of Marketing. Will Clark, senior communications studies major and videographer at Gustavus, who also provides technical expertise to the podcast, and me, your host, Greg Kaster. The views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of Gustavus Adolphus College.

Almost all of us at one time or another, and if we’re lucky it’s just one time, have found ourselves attending a meeting shared or led by someone who’s just not very good at the task, leaving us bored, drained, resentful, or all three as a result. Dark thoughts sometimes ensue. Joining me today is someone who not only has a lot of experience cheering meetings but is also, as I have witnessed firsthand, quite good at it, which is fortunate for Gustavus, since he happens to have chaired our Board of Trustees on which he continues to serve. He currently chairs the board’s Academic Affairs Committee. The Reverend Dan Poffenberger graduated Gustavus in 1982 and went on to pursue a career in the ministry. He served as lead pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota for 10 years, and since 2015 he’s been lead pastor at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, also in Stillwater. A congregation like Gustavus itself, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or ELCA, which includes some four million members and numerous excellent national liberal arts colleges.

For the past two years Dan has also been director of Becoming: Leadership on the Way, which with funding from the Lilly Endowment aims to develop leadership among young in their career clergy. In addition to his MDiv degree from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Dan holds a doctorate of ministry, semiotics and future studies from Portland Seminary, and he’s co-authored a manual titled Working Together for the series People Together, Small Group Ministry Guides.

As you will hear, Dan’s work and thinking are not only quite interesting but also engaged with critical issues of our day, like racial justice and climate change, and I’ve been very much looking forward to speaking with him for the podcast. Welcome Dan, I appreciate you taking the time. So glad we could do this.

Dan Poffenberger:

Thank you, Greg. It’s a pleasure, so thanks.

Greg Kaster:

You’re quite welcome.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. I haven’t been introduced like that ever, so thank you.

Greg Kaster:

My pleasure, yeah. My pleasure. Let’s start sort of right now in the present. What is it like at your church? You have 4,000 members or something like that?

Dan Poffenberger:

Actually, it’s 6,000. We just kind of-

Greg Kaster:

Wow, 6,000.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. It feels like I’m flying the aircraft by remote control these days.

Greg Kaster:

That’s what I wonder.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

How so? Yeah, go ahead.

Dan Poffenberger:

Well, it’s just a huge pivot from large gatherings and intense kind of in-person relational work to leading a whole staff and organization into more of a virtual presence and virtual reality. To be honest, it’s been both stimulating as well as a little disorienting. The stimulating part has actually been quite fun. It’s amazing exercising creativity.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, and I work with really talented wonderful creative people. So it’s been fun to watch them shine and surprise themselves as to what they can do. The feedback in relationship with the congregation has also been really rewarding in this time, but there’s a lot of loss in all of that too.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I mean, you’re articulating exactly what I feel. I know so many faculty at Gustavus knows where I feel about the online teaching. It’s a chance to be creative. It’s going well.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

We’re all rising to the occasion, but it’s different, for sure. So are you doing … Let’s say it’s a Sunday. I don’t know how many … Would you do multiple services on a typical Sunday?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, correct.

Greg Kaster:

And now are you still doing that, keep adhering to that schedule if it’s all online?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. So, Shepherd of the Lake is a large place, it’s a very contemporary, very open, lots of natural light, and we can seat up to 1,200 people fairly comfortably. So the energy in that room on a Sunday on whenever we’re doing large worship events is tangible, and it’s a very performative kind of place if you are in front or facilitating the worship service. Now we prerecord everything. We’re working days and weeks ahead of time and we put it together in kind of an à la carte function. We made a decision that’s probably different than many other communities. We don’t go into the worship center and record a service from start to finish with nobody present there. We have broken down the liturgy into its component parts, and assign different members of the staff to do different parts of it on any given Sunday, and then it kind of gets stitched together on an à la carte basis. So a lot of it is filmed outside of the worship space. It’s made it easier for people to share the little bits and pieces of it that they want to share with their family, or friends, or neighbors. So yeah, a quite different experience.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Boy, again, that relates to teaching. I mean, one of the things I love about teaching is the performative aspect. By the way, I used to play … I was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church on my dad’s side. He was born here but his parents came from Greece. Mainly I just remember the fresh bread at communion [crosstalk 00:05:33].

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, it’s a rich experience. Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Oh my god.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

But mostly I grew up in the Episcopal Church with Father [Roofi 00:05:41] is who confirmed me in the Episcopal Church. So my brother and I … he was sort of high Episcopal, if that makes any sense, but man, we occasionally played priest.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

We were little kids. We’d put on our bathrobes. But I can relate totally to the performative part. Are you in every service? Are you doing the sermon every-

Dan Poffenberger:

No, no. An interesting part of leading a staff like this in the ELCA is that the generation before me of senior pastors were all men, first of all, and secondly, they were really the center of their worshiping community. So they preached 80% of the time, et cetera. We might get into this later on in the conversation, but there is danger in all of that. That generation of leader, a lot of them really crashed and burned because that kind of mythology of being a leader in that way is very isolating. I think being at Shepherd of the Lake particularly we’ve made some choices there where we’ve tried to share leadership in a much more broad kind of way. At best I preach maybe 50% of the time. There are certain Sundays where I am not present. That was true both when we were doing live worship and now kind of in this digital way, and that’s all really intentional.

So no, I’m not there every time, which is great, and I have to say for the first time in 30 some years, worshiping with my wife on a Sunday morning on our couch with a good cup of coffee is a joy in my life right now that I’ve never experienced before. So I’m a little broken, I don’t know what’s going to happen when we go back to live experience.

Greg Kaster:

Oh man, you’re speaking. It sounds like I was speaking with the coffee lover too. That sounds good.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

That’s a double worship. Worshiping the coffee and-

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. Isn’t that kind of the beauty of this moment too? Is some of the things we’ve been forced to do differently we may carry with us, right?

Greg Kaster:

Right.

Dan Poffenberger:

The congregation I serve, we will never be just simply a non digital church ever again, I think. We just welcomed a whole group of new members. We now for the first time are getting people joining the community that have never physically worshiped in our space.

Greg Kaster:

Wow, yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, there’s good things here. It’s [crosstalk 00:08:06].

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. You raise an important point, which is, here I’m thinking as a historian too, not only … One way to think about it is what have we lost, but also what have we, as horrible as it is, what have we gained and what might persist, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

We shall see. But I think that’s interesting to think about. So is your title senior pastor? Is that the right, the official?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, senior pastor or lead pastor.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. So how many other pastors are there and how many of them are women?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. So until recently we had five of us that were ordained and one deacon. So we have three female pastors on staff currently and two male pastors on staff.

Greg Kaster:

That’s great, wow.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Is this the largest? I mean, is it the largest congregation in the state? I would think, I don’t, I mean.

Dan Poffenberger:

No, we’re not, not actually, but we’re one of the larger ones in the country.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Dan Poffenberger:

And again, it depends on what you mean. The definition of member of a congregation has changed and is fluid. Back in the day of our parents a well aligned member both belonged in a literal sense and was there three or four times a month on a Sunday. Today we’ve got folks that are tremendously aligned with us that we might see in physical worship, back a year ago, we might see them once a month. So everything feels different now.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I mean, is that pre-COVID too? I mean, pre-pandemic?

Dan Poffenberger:

Oh yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, that’s been over the last 20 years. We even have a number of people that are in leadership who technically aren’t members of the congregation. I think that sense of what it means to belong is something we continue to learn and lean into in a very less legalistic way than we used to.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, that’s also an excellent point and observation about the change over time. Because I’m thinking, I can’t remember if this is … This may be inaccurate, but something I … We may be very a religious society, but the church attendance or church going might be down. I don’t know if that’s quite right, but just in general how people feel in relationship to an institution and belonging, I mean, that’s an issue too with any school, any liberal arts college as well. What does that mean?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

I would guess that if you looked at a lot of the institution that the generation where our parents belonged to, all of them have suffered from an erosion of people wanting to belong to fraternal organizations or societies, or other things like that. Generations younger than us are even more resistant to those kinds of labeling or identity things. I also think there’s a real freedom in all of this.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Dan Poffenberger:

People have fallen out of love with the institutional church for a lot of really good reasons, right? The church has failed people on so many counts over a long period of time that I don’t blame them that they have said, “I might believe in God but I’m not so sure I believe in the church anymore.” And believe me, I’ve had that conversation with hundreds of people over the past 20 years where-

Greg Kaster:

I agree.

Dan Poffenberger:

So I’m really interested in helping shape a community that might be Lutheran with a lower case l, where it might not be the first thing you notice about us, but if you listen carefully it’s a thoroughly Lutheran place. It’s just the form is much more loose and non … We have tradition but we’re not traditionalists, if I can put it that way.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Actually you’re anticipating … Long question. Let me ask two questions that are related. One, what does it meant to be Lutheran first of all? Then the other question relates to what you just described, the kind of looseness, because my sense, and I’ve never been to the church, I’ve seen pictures, it looks beautiful, and reading about it, the kind of community outreach you’re doing. I’d like you to talk about that too. But first, what do you mean it’s lower case Lutheran? What does that mean?

Dan Poffenberger:

So this-

Greg Kaster:

Versus a capital L.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, boy. Yeah, we’re getting into a long story here, I’m afraid.

Greg Kaster:

[crosstalk 00:12:32] could be another podcast, yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

So I was a mission developer outside of Chicago for 10 years, and in the ELCA what a mission developer is is somebody who gets sent by the national church to essentially start a congregation in a new community. So you start without people, or place, or money in essence. So in the far western suburbs of Chicago during that decade I really connected a lot with dechurched people. So they had some form of a church background. Easily half of them were ex Roman Catholic, and this was the day where these clergy abuse stories were starting to come public, and whether it was that or the issue of divorce, or the issue of abortion, or the issue of women in leadership. I just connected with all sorts of people who felt either marginalized, or ignored, or forgotten, or beat up by the church, whether it was Roman Catholic, or mainline, or evangelical, and were looking for a place where they could connect with the best parts of what they remember of the church without having to get through all the problematic parts of the church.

So I just got a heart for those kind of people. That’s how that congregation really got built, was folks that kind of … Because we were worshiping in elementary schools, in middle school. My favorite place was a cafetorium, which was half of a cafeteria and half of an auditorium. When people come to a place like that they’ve kind of given up that a place with stained glass windows, and an organ, and a pastor dressed in robes and stoles is going to speak to them. For whatever reason, that’s not the door they want to walk through.

So once that happened with me and I took their stories seriously, and connected with that deep love they had for God, and this hope they had that this faith that they had a remnant of was real and life giving for them, but they couldn’t take it being mediated by the church that had hurt them somehow, or forgotten them, or marginalized them. That really changed me a lot. So what I love about Lutheranism is I think it’s got all the right theology. This theology of grace, this understanding of what it means to follow in the way of Jesus. I would have a strong critique of our evangelical brothers and sisters who have really I think misinterpreted the gospel in a very dangerous way. On the other side the Roman Catholic Church that has had its own significant failings. It’s lovely to be a part of a church that I think treats the gospel with an openness and a generosity, a willing to learn from the other, a willingness to acknowledge that in other faith traditions there is truth that can be helpful and life giving as well.

So I love being in that generous place where you can help somebody reach back into their past and take the best, most freeing part of the gospel and reclaim it, and reimagine it for themselves, and not have to deal with the legalism, the paternal kind of instincts of the church and have to navigate through all of the things that had been used to hurt them or marginalize them. So yeah, you hit a pretty deep vein there, sorry.

Greg Kaster:

No, that’s all … No, not at all. I’m thinking as you speak that … Your own, the current church, right? Am I crazy? It’s not that old. What, 50 years old?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, yeah. Yep, exactly. It’s about 53 or 54 years old, yeah.

Greg Kaster:

I mean, so how do you get … I mean, you’re answering one of the questions I had, is how does one start a church? How does one start a congregation, right? Did this church, did the Shepherd of the Lake church, did it start in the same kind of way? I mean, I don’t know enough [crosstalk 00:16:50].

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, actually it did. It did, and it started in Scott County when Scott County was blooming, blossoming, and when Lutheranism was still a brand in Minnesota that people would gravitate towards. So they capitalized on it, and they really majored in these young families that were moving to Prior Lake, Savage, Shakopee.

Greg Kaster:

Okay.

Dan Poffenberger:

And you can see the rise of those school districts. I mean, they’ve multiplied over, and over, and over again, and Shepherd of the Lake rode that wave. They were a fairly liberal place through the whole time. They kept outgrowing their buildings. They were growing so fast. Frankly, I think they benefited as well from the ELCA not planting another church somewhere in the community. So they were able to capture kind of the full impact of the migration of folks that probably were already Lutheran and in a highly Lutheran area. They were good at a number of things, and they gained this really audacious vision for a new kind of community, they had partnerships involved. So they developed a campus on about 80 acres of farmland and wetlands that’s just gorgeous, and we have a Presbyterian Homes on the campus. We have a YMCA on the campus. There’s a shelter for a social service organization that works with people who’ve been sex trafficked and they are housed there and receive social services as they get their life back. So really, really wonderful vision, and audacious in terms of its financial implications as well.

So we’re still working through all of the indebtedness that came along with that beautiful vision, but the vision itself works.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, that’s neat. I mean, the community outreach is built into it from its inception it sounds like.

Dan Poffenberger:

Exactly.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Exactly.

Greg Kaster:

So is that unusual for a Lutheran church? I don’t know, I mean, is that what …

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, I think this was a one of a kind. Even now all these years later, a couple of times a year I’ll get a phone call from somebody who is in a congregation somewhere else in the country that’s beginning to wonder about what they could do with partnerships, and they want to see the space, they want to talk to our partners.

Greg Kaster:

Interesting.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, that’s been a fun-

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, so you’re a model.

Dan Poffenberger:

Little bit, a little bit.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, you’re a model. I mean, it sounds like it’s a great fit for you because of your work in Saint Charles.

Dan Poffenberger:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

Similar, really building on that. Yeah, one day I’ll get there. It just looks really beautiful, and that background is quite interesting. It relates to Gustavus, so let’s turn to Gustavus for a little bit here because Gustavus is, I mean, it’s not only an ELCA national liberal arts college but there’s that sense at Gustavus too, more than a sense it’s part of our mission to be engaged with the community and around social justice. Tell us a little bit about your own background, where you grew up and how you wound up at Gustavus.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. Yeah, I grew up in Hopkins, not that far.

Greg Kaster:

No.

Dan Poffenberger:

I’m a first generation college student in my family. My folks grew up in Iowa. When I was in high school my dad was in the grocery business, and I remember there was a conversation he and I had that we could do a grocery store together or they could send me to college. I think back now that I’m past his age at that time, I think wow, what a conversation we had. My father had just had open heart surgery and I thought, “God, we could do that store and that would be kind of fun, but I think it would kill my dad.” I had dreams, I was a debate geek in high school. I was a pretty good achiever in high school, and I wanted to be a lawyer. Gustavus was the college of my church and we were really active there. I had applied at George Washington University and was all set to go into a program there that they had a five year program, an undergrad and law school, you could do the whole thing in five years if you went full time through the summers, and then my dad had the open heart surgery and I decided to stay close to home. I went to Gustavus thinking I could go there for a year and then transfer back out east, and that never happened.

I came to Gustavus on kind of a one year trial basis and loved it, and felt at home there. But the thing I reflect on most these days is how little my parents knew about college. They dropped me off there and I think they had no idea what that life was going to be like and what it would afford me and I’m just really grateful that they understood that that would be a path for me.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, I can totally relate. My dad did not go to college. My mom went to a two year … She grew up in a farm in called Downstate Illinois, a little south of Champaign [inaudible 00:22:01]. She grew up in a farm. I think ultimately went to two year teachers college, Eastern Illinois University I think it is, and then taught for a little bit and didn’t like it and bailed. So I mean, technically I guess I’m not first generation but I sort of feel that way. I always say to myself and another people, and constantly saying to myself, “Thank goodness my parents valued education and did not look at college the way some of my relatives did. It was kind of a who do you think you are? What a waste of your time.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

I am so grateful for that. I hear you, I mean, I really do, because I don’t think my parents really understood either what it was about, but never ever made fun of it, my decision, or questioned it. I mean, it’s a gift. I think it was a gift, I really do.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Go ahead.

Dan Poffenberger:

I’m really pleased with how many first generation students Gustavus continues-

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Dan Poffenberger:

… to bring into the community because it changes everybody.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Dan Poffenberger:

It’s not simply an investment just in that person, it changes the trajectory of an entire family.

Greg Kaster:

That is exactly right.

Dan Poffenberger:

For a long, long time.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

It’s so true. I’m thinking, I won’t mention her name, but I hope to record for the podcast a fairly recent alumn and graduated not that long ago, same thing. I mean, her life just changed so dramatically as a result of being able to go to college and finish Gustavus. It’s incredible, so I do like that about the place a lot, I do.

Dan Poffenberger:

I wonder if it doesn’t change Gustavus a lot too.

Greg Kaster:

I think so. Oh, I think it does.

Dan Poffenberger:

If you didn’t have that influence on the campus, you just wonder, we’re already a privileged placed.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Dan Poffenberger:

Maybe that’s a little bit of a governor on that for us to keep these first generation students as a priority because it help reminds us, right?

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Of a lot of the important things.

Greg Kaster:

I think that’s right. I haven’t said this, but colleagues will say that about our students. They’ll do anything you ask them to do. It isn’t quite true, but I know what they mean. Some of that, not all of that, some of that is being the first generation.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, I love that. Some of our faculty as well.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

So you came to Gustavus. We hooked you, I wasn’t there, we’re not we, but they hooked you.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

So at that point what were you thinking, political science? Or if you were already thinking about law-

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

… I assume to the ministry at that point.

Dan Poffenberger:

No, no. Ron Christenson, one of the poli-sci professors I think was the person I met on my campus visit.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, he’s great.

Dan Poffenberger:

Here’s the sweetest thing too. I was an economics major with a political science minor, I would guess. I thought I was going to law school, I might have done an MBA. I had the Foreign Service Officer’s application on my desk my senior year and thought about that for a while. Took this wild left hand turn into seminary, and I was in Walnut Grove was my first call, Little House on the Prairie, Walnut Grove. One Sunday here comes Ron Christenson and sits in the back and comes to worship on a Sunday morning. I thought of that trajectory of I remember when I was walking on campus he rode by on his bicycle and stopped and engage me. I mean, that little bit of investment in me was just enough to make me think, “Well, I could belong here.” You know?

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Then he had no idea, I don’t think ever, how important he was to me, and I would’ve … I mean, I about fell over when he showed up at church all those years later. I’ve just been so grateful, and that story just has represented kind of the best part of that interaction between faculty and students that you can only have at a place like Gustavus.

Greg Kaster:

Right, yeah. Ron was one of the greats. He was an informal mentor to both my wife Kate, who taught in the history department until she retired, and me. Yeah, I mean, just award-winning-

Dan Poffenberger:

How lucky.

Greg Kaster:

… teacher, scholar, the whole bit. I once made the mistake of saying to Ron, I referred to my students, and he corrected me.

Dan Poffenberger:

Uh-oh.

Greg Kaster:

[inaudible 00:26:20]. I still remember that, what he said, “They’re no one’s students.”

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

One of the greats at Gustavus.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Sadly since passed away, but his presence is certainly still felt there in that department and on campus.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

So boy, I just love these stories. I love these, to me they’re these career, profession origin stories. So econ major, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Right, yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Who would’ve thought, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, right.

Greg Kaster:

I mean, [crosstalk 00:26:49] or Siri, our Chaplain was a chemistry major too. So how did you find your way from econ and poli-sci to … I guess you probably had to take a religion course at Gustavus.

Dan Poffenberger:

Oh a little bit, but no.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

By the way, Siri and I worked together for nine years and still one year before she came to Gustavus.

Greg Kaster:

Oh, I [crosstalk 00:27:08].

Dan Poffenberger:

I owe her a lot. She taught me a ton as a colleague, and I just think the world of her.

Greg Kaster:

She’s terrific. Yeah, we recorded together for the podcast. She’s great, yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Okay. That’s one smart human being.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

So yeah. My junior year of college I went to Denmark on an exchange program through Gustavus. My mother’s side of the family is all Danish immigrants. Went to the economics school in Copenhagen, came back from that and I was supposed to intern at the federal court system in the Twin Cities and somehow my application got messed up, and I had no job for the summer. I drove a friend of mine to a Lutheran Youth Encounter training session in the summer, and I walked in and I knew a handful of people in the training. Some of them were Gustavus students at the time and I hung out kind of for the day. Partway through the day they said, “Well, what are you doing this summer?” And I said, “Well, really nothing.” And they said, “Why don’t you join a team?” So I spent the summer traveling in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin with a group of five other people. Through the end of the summer they came to me and said, “We have a spot on the national team. Would you like to take the rest of this year, meaning the academic year, and travel with them?” And I really wanted to.

Again, here comes my father in this story. We were at a church in Maple Grove at a concert that we were doing, because that’s what Lutheran Youth Encounter was at the time. It was six of us in a van. We did Sunday morning worship services, vacation Bible school, Bible camps, youth gatherings, things like that. I was the talker in the group. I didn’t really have any musical talent, so I faked my way through singing or playing guitar, but I was the one that kind of MCed the program a little bit. I remember sitting in a parking lot in Maple Grove with my dad, and again, I’m his oldest and the only one that’s gone to college out of the three kids. I’m within a year of graduating, and my request of him is we sat in this car in the parking lot is I’d like to take a year off. I think about that now from a parent’s perspective and I’m sure that with every fiber of his being the man wanted to tell me no and he couldn’t do it. I think frankly the only reason he couldn’t tell me no is because it had something to do with the church, and my dad just couldn’t say no.

So I took that year off and I think he and my mom were probably convinced I was never going back to college. They didn’t understand what this trajectory was, and frankly neither did I.

Greg Kaster:

You probably didn’t either, right. Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

No, no. Mark Erson was another Gustavus grad student, he was on that team. Anyway, got done with that year and went back to Gustavus, and I had kind of fallen in love with the church at that point. We stayed at 75 different congregations that year, and I listened to people’s stories about why the church mattered to them. Although that wasn’t what I thought we were talking about, that’s what I came away with all the time. Thought well, my home pastor at that time, the senior pastor had changed and it was Gary Anderson, who was on the board of trustees at Gustavus not long after this period of time, and was on for a long time, was my pastor, and he had kind of been recruiting me a little bit to maybe think about seminary. So I decided to give seminary a one year trial, much like I had Gustavus, and loved it. I thought they wouldn’t want me, and I didn’t really think I wanted to be a pastor, but over the course of those four years I felt called.

Then Gary hired me as a youth director in my home church as I came out of Gustavus and went to seminary, and there you go. I got married. Gretchen, my wife, her dad was a pastor in the American Lutheran Church. I think she swore she’d never marry a pastor, and I was probably least like a pastor of anybody, but anyways, she … Her brother and I were classmates at seminary. We met and fell in love, and somewhere at the very beginning of my first call in Walnut Grove we got married.

Greg Kaster:

It’s funny.

Dan Poffenberger:

And it was years later that Gretchen would still whisper in my ear once in a while, “You know you can still go to law school.” It probably wasn’t until 20 years into my career that I final thought, “You know, this is what I think I’m doing for the rest of my career.”

Greg Kaster:

That’s a great story. At least maybe she didn’t swear on a Bible I hope, that’s a different story.

Dan Poffenberger:

No, no, no.

Greg Kaster:

Seriously, I cannot get enough of these stories because so many students, too many, not just at Gustavus, and parents sometimes, feel they have to have it all figured out from day one.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

And that’s just nuts, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

I think it’s crazy. I always say, “Just be open.” Even though I had it all figured. I mean, even though I knew I wanted to be a [inaudible 00:32:19], but I love it. I mean, there’s no straight line from where you came from, even though you were going to church and stuff as a kid, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

There’s no straight line from there to Gustavus. This is all about what, well, a lot of people use the phrase, but some historians, I’m one of them, love to talk about contingency, contingency stuff that happen. So what if that application, right? I mean, there you go. What if your application [crosstalk 00:32:45].

Dan Poffenberger:

Absolutely.

Greg Kaster:

I’d be talking to a lawyer now maybe. That’s a wonderful story, I love it.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Did you take, and it’s okay if you didn’t, but did you take history courses, literature courses at Gustavus? What else did you-

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, I was-

Greg Kaster:

Econ and poli-sci for sure.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yes, and I played trumpet for a couple years until I realized you weren’t going to get into the most interesting ensembles if you weren’t a music major. I was in debate I think up until I traveled to Denmark and I loved debate, and that was a good experience for me at Gustavus. We were a really good scrappy program for a Division III school. I remember going to junior nationals and we did quite well. That was really exciting. I spent way more time in libraries than I’d ever really want to admit. Yeah, I loved that. But no, I was kind of eclectic. I liked a lot of things. I remember Clair McRostie, I want to say.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, sure.

Dan Poffenberger:

Claire.

Greg Kaster:

Econ prof, yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, yeah. Who everybody has a story about him. I remember there was a blue book exam, and for whatever reason I was in this class with him and it was in the winter time because I remember it was a cold day, and we had taken a blue book exam. The next day, or whenever they were graded and he was handing them out, he took my blue book and he didn’t say whose it was, but I had used an ampersand instead of the word and throughout that entire. Why? I have no idea, right? I mean, this was 1979, so what did I know. He held it up and just berated the author of this thing for using such a lazy symbol, right?

Greg Kaster:

Wow.

Dan Poffenberger:

I remember dying about 1,000 deaths. Anyway.

Greg Kaster:

See, I love it. Oh yeah. One reason I love it, this is when I wish I could go back in time because I kind of joke okay, if I did that today, right? I could be sued, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

I’m destroying someone’s self-esteem for life. I mean, it’s awesome. I think it’s great. It’s just good to know there once was a time in Gustavus when professors could do those sorts of things, which [crosstalk 00:35:01].

Dan Poffenberger:

Well, and I survived, and when we had a private conversation he let me know that he expected more from me and knew that I had it. Okay.

Greg Kaster:

Right.

Dan Poffenberger:

So in the end it was an extremely positive experience for me.

Greg Kaster:

Exactly. He was berating but for a purpose, not just to-

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. It was a positive near death experience, I think would be the way I [crosstalk 00:35:25]. Clarifying, right? It was clarifying.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Clair McRostie clarifying, exactly.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yes.

Greg Kaster:

It’s such a great story. I love those stories. We all have. Well, I don’t know if the current generation will have them, but everything is so oh that’s wonderful, everything’s great. No, sometimes I want to say something like that. This is unacceptable, you can do better. So you wound up in seminary. Tell me a little more about, and listeners, what it’s like to go to seminary? I mean, what do you study? I mean, do you study how to write sermons, for example, preach, et cetera?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. Well, it has changed a lot, right? I think over time it’s gotten more practical, which is a good thing, because going into a community of faith and accepting this kind of servant leadership position takes some technical skill. It’s not just simply about your theology. Frankly, a lot of the preaching courses that I took were a little divorced from reality. I mean, you find yourself as a 27-year-old in a farm community like Walnut Grove. I’m not sure they prepared me for that at all. Luckily, they were healthy enough … I was the third seminary grad in a row they had ever had, so they were good at training young clergy, and I think they … So anyway, I benefited from that. But no, seminary a lot of deconstruction at first. So your faith comes, so you come in and most of us have a pretty simple faith and a simple understanding of scripture. In some ways it needs to be broken down quite a bit in order that you can see it for what it really is, and then you appreciate the richness behind it. Not everyone survives that journey, right? Because they don’t want to be dissuaded from their idealism about the Bible, right? So, that can be a little rough.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I’m thinking there’s something comparable at Gustavus when students take a course from a religion prof and discover things aren’t quite what they grew up believing or thinking. So it’s sometimes like a crisis of some sort, yeah. You strike me. I don’t know you that well. I’ve only really met you since the one Academic Affairs Committee meeting, but you strike me as someone who’s incredibly both intellectually curious and highly competent, and I really meant that about running the meetings. It’s funny, you said something earlier, in fact, now I’m forgetting what you said, but it reminded me, I was like, “No wonder you know how to run a …” It was when you said yes, when you were traveling around the country that year you were the MC, which is essentially like chairing. No wonder you’re good at it. I’m always curious as a teacher, and sometimes students will say to me in their comments, too much preaching, not enough teaching. Anyway, preaching, teaching. Partly from studying some ministers in the American past, like Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Grandison Finney, and Henry Ward Beecher, but what’s it like for you when you have to write a sermon? How do you approach doing that?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. Actually, that’s gotten tremendously easier for me over time, and part of it is just the repetition of it. I probably am an outlier.

Greg Kaster:

You start with a text? Is that how you start or how do you?

Dan Poffenberger:

It’s interesting. So if you step back and think about the arc of a whole year of worship life in a community of faith, a congregation, what I’ve learned is you can always default to the Narrative Lectionary, which is the set of scriptures that are prescribed over the course of a year, right? Most of my colleagues around the country probably follow that, pardon the pun, religiously. Because the mission start I did in Illinois required different things, those stories that are selected for the lectionary have some challenges to them for an ordinary non church person, not all that conversant with the Bible to understand.

Greg Kaster:

Sure.

Dan Poffenberger:

Oftentimes in a traditional place you might hear four or three readings on a given Sunday. That didn’t really work for unchurched or dechurched people very well because those three or four lessons might not have spoken to each other, there might not have been what you would call a through line or a simple idea. Over time I became really enamored with every worship service needs one major metaphor, one idea, one thought that you need to pull through every part of that experience to be able to really do something well in 40 minutes, or 50 minutes. You can’t have 18 ideas out on the table all the time or you’re just going to lose everybody.

So I learned to kind of work backwards so that over the course of the year, at the beginning of when we start planning for a year I want to ask the question, what does this community of faith need to experience this year? It’s more of a pastoral question, right? Of what does this community need to experience and learn and do together over the course of the year? And that tends to drive the preaching and worship focuses for the year for us. We may go back to the traditional lectionary on Advent and Christmas, that little season, or Lent and Easter, but the rest of the year really will be trying to organize things in three or four week segments of kind of major ideas or experiences that we want to offer to the community and have them experience. Then we build the worship service around those ideas, or questions, or metaphors. So when it gets time to prepare a very specific message, it’s probably one of four, and I want them to connect somehow. I just try to find a hook in every biblical text, and I really love kind of positioning yourself in the story in a particular way. You can take the same story and position yourself as a different character in the story or a different aspect of the story and come up with an entirely different message and point.

Greg Kaster:

Sure.

Dan Poffenberger:

So I really start with a pretty ruthless kind of what’s the one thing in here, and then how many ways can I try to express that so that it’s a clear idea. What I love to do is give people one great question. If I can get them hooked on one great question that they have to answer for themselves over the course of the next week, I feel like I’ve done a good thing. One metaphor, one word, one image that somehow draws them a little closer into knowing themselves, or God, or their neighbor a little better, that’s all I have to do. So, it’s really interesting, Greg.

My best work sometimes comes to me after thinking about something and let it kind of percolate for a few weeks because I like to work ahead of time, but I’ll wake up in the morning and I’ll sit down on a blank piece of paper and be done in 20 minutes.

Greg Kaster:

Wow.

Dan Poffenberger:

It’s all there.

Greg Kaster:

You’ve been drafting it in a way in your head over. Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

I kind of work the same way. What you’re describing really, I mean, just listening to you describe coming up with the theme for the year and then it’s sort of units. You’re describing creating a course essentially.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

You’ve obviously been a very effective professor because what you’re describing is what I think a good, certainly in history, what a good course consists of. Here are the major themes we want our students to understand. Here’s how we’re going to attack those themes. Ending with questions, starting with questions and ending with questions, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

That they have to wrestle with. Is there such a thing as a fire and brimstone preacher within the ELCA? It was this whole …

Dan Poffenberger:

Well, no. Probably not a very good one anyway.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

I think fire and brimstone is about creating fear. I think we’re off the rails. I think there are people who are very good at capturing people’s religious imagination or stimulating it, and that’s really what you’re there to do. You’re not there to answer things for people necessarily, or tell them what to think. We’re not lifting up people’s heads and saying, “Here’s orthodoxy and here’s these 10 statements of biblical principles. We need you to agree on them to be a member of this community, so sign here and press hard.” That’s just not the point.

At Shepherd of the Lake we’ve gotten down to a very simple statement that started way back in the day with Siri and I back in Stillwater, Siri Erickson, Siri Dale at the time. Wherever you are in your faith journey, you’re welcome here. We’ve added onto that now, and we greet you here with open heart, open mind and open table. We’ve articulated the congregation’s values around those three things, of open-mindedness, open-heartedness, and an open table. So the [crosstalk 00:45:18].

Greg Kaster:

It actually just occurred to me, I may have seen a video of you talking about those.

Dan Poffenberger:

Likely.

Greg Kaster:

I think I did somewhere, yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Likely. So I mean, I just think people, especially in today’s world, need a very clear simple theology that allows them to grow. That it’s just provocative, or evocative of the things they already know that are true about God and themselves and the world, that I believe everybody’s got what they need. If you can just stimulate their religious imagination, because then it’s just a matter of sight, right? Are you seeing the things in the world as they really are? If you can help somebody gain that set of vision, they see grace all around them. They see God at work all around them. I’m much more interested in that than trying to tell people who is in and who is out, who’s right and who’s wrong.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Dan Poffenberger:

And here are the rules and follow them, or else. That’s just not Gospel.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, and again, I don’t mean to push the parallels too much, but substitute historical thinking for I think use grace of God or the same sort of thing. I don’t really care. First of all, as one scholar said, “You can look up all the names and dates on your iPhone now.” There’s Google, right?

Dan Poffenberger:

That’s right.

Greg Kaster:

But can you think historically? Do you have a historical awareness? And that is you go about the world seeing history, literally seeing it where maybe you didn’t see it before or appreciated before [crosstalk 00:46:50].

Dan Poffenberger:

You know what’s created an urgency for me, and I think it’d be easy to critique the moment we have just been living through here in America as evidence of the fact that not enough of our population has a good historical ability to think historically, right? Similarly, I would say I grieve a lot over the fact that it seems like a lot of people do not have an adequate theology or theological lens or evaluative set of tools to be able to see bad theology versus helpful life giving theology. As much as the church has declined over my career, I think we’ve only become more important over the past decade. It’s just we have a lot of work to do.

Greg Kaster:

That’s interesting and it also leads me to my next question, which is related. Because I mean, there are, which is sad to be … There are religious people who deny science. There just are.

Dan Poffenberger:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Kaster:

Some years ago, I don’t remember the exact year, I know it’s been a while, but you and many other clergy signed, I think it’s a remarkable document, it’s called The Clergy Letter From American Christian Clergy, An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science. You make the case in there … I actually urge everybody to Google this and read it, whether you’re a religious person or not, but you all make the case that science and religion can go together. I’ll read just one sentence. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different but complementary forms of truth. One of the things you were all getting at in that letter is evolution, and that evolution shouldn’t be taught as simply “one theory” among others. But I’m curious about, and again, this may be we have to shake your memory a little bit here, but what brought you to sign that and how are religion and science, because that’s also at Gustavus, right? That’s very much a part of Gustavus, that faith and science can and should go together. What do you think about that?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, I love the work. Again, to bring up our colleague Siri, the work that she and others have done on campus for our high school students, this summer camp on science and ethics and faith.

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Dan Poffenberger:

Really important work. Again, the open-minded part of our mission at Shepherd of the Lake is you don’t check your brain at the door. It breaks my heart that I think starting somewhere in Sunday school we start … A lot of churches still embrace this kind of mythical childish way of talking about God that they never change for a child through confirmation and into high school, and really we lose our smartest kids, the ones that are really engaged in STEM. Just get the impression from the popular culture around them, that science and faith are incompatible, and I don’t think that’s ever been a part of Lutheranism, at least not modern Lutheranism, and it’s certainly not a part of our denomination. I think it’s something that a lot of my peers are working hard to overtly embrace science because it … If we really want to affirm the fact that God made this world, and that it is a noble world that can be appropriated by logic and observation, and then where is the disconnect there? If we believe that God made a nonsensical world, well maybe then we can close our eyes to the things that science teaches us, right? And want to believe some fantastical way in which God did all this and left evidence of a very different kind of creation, what, to puzzle us or to confuse us? I don’t know, but I think I love the intersection of faith and science.

I think whether you are looking at the smallest possible thing in the universe or you’re looking up in the heavens at the largest possible understanding of this multiverse, all of it’s God’s handiwork. So by knowing it more it seems to me it’s a path to actually be more in awe of the creative imagination of God. I’ve never seen any conflict. I don’t think I was raised believing that, and I’m kind of dumbfounded how in this day and age anybody gets away with teaching science isn’t real. I can’t even imagine that.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. No, that’s all, I mean, that’s all … I guess, maybe I’m a religious person in the broadest sort of spiritual, I don’t know, but I don’t go to church, but still I can understand what you just said well. It makes sense to me. That okay, if you believe in God, what kind of God is it who would say, “Don’t use reason.” Right?

Dan Poffenberger:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

Don’t think critically, and then I just had this vision of maybe it’ll turn out God not only went to a liberal arts college but was a physics major or something. Who knows? A science major. I had not read the letter before until preparing for the podcast. I found it absolutely fascinating, and again, I urge listeners to look at. I know there’s been a lot, I shouldn’t say a lot, but some pushback by the very people at whom it’s directed, I suppose.

Dan Poffenberger:

Right, exactly.

Greg Kaster:

I’m not surprised.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. I just think it’s a critique I would have of our national denomination, is that we’re probably not loud enough and proud enough about who we really are. Whether it’s on matters of inclusion or racial justice, or the embrace of science, or the work that’s being done on climate change. I think the world is, I think this country is poised to possibly have a renaissance of faith if we would grab the microphone and the megaphone away from the evangelical anti-science creationalists who currently have the megaphone.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

I think that needs to happen.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I mean, I would agree, speaking to someone who believes strongly. I sometimes joke Gustavus’s tagline should be Gustavus Adolphus College, we believe and we believe in science, something like that.

Dan Poffenberger:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

Believe in science. Go ahead.

Dan Poffenberger:

You never think you would have to put that in your tagline.

Greg Kaster:

Right, no, I know. I mean, that’s where we’re at, right? This strain in our culture goes way back, but yeah, it’s who has the megaphone.

Dan Poffenberger:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Kaster:

Anyway, I know we could talk more about that, and I would love to [inaudible 00:53:47] to another podcast. But I want to talk, you just mentioned racial justice and climate change, and both of those issues are on so many college campuses now, especially since what happened here in Minneapolis in May with the killing of Mr. George Floyd. Talk a little bit about your role on the board. I mean, how did you come to be a board member for Gustavus? And what the board is doing to kind of, I don’t know how to put this, but the board has been I think quite good on these issues, especially quite recently racial justice.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. How I came to be on the board is probably not all that interesting, so I won’t even go there. I was pleased to be asked and I have to just say it’s the best service I’ve ever been committed to outside of the work of the congregations I’ve served. I learn something every time we get together. I think the world of President Bergman and the cabinet and I love Gustavus students. The highlight of every board meeting when we get the opportunities to have breakfast with students kind of on a randomized basis and just listen to their stories and their questions. It’s a really amazing place and I’m grateful to be a small part of helping it continue to be that.

I think if I could just say one thing about, the thing I’m most proud about during my time on the board has been the work we’ve done on shared governance, which in a short way is just the healing or investment in the relationship between the administration, the board, and the faculty. That kind of three-legged entity that is responsible for the college, and I’m just really pleased about the fact that we have created a system where the faculty, the administration, and the board can help each other understand what’s around the corner and clarifying who has major responsibility on any given decision, because depending on the decision the faculty needs to take the lead, has the lead, has the obligation to take the lead. At other times it’s the administration and sometimes it’s the board, and understanding which group has responsibility and how the other two parties can be forthright about their needs and perspectives on an issue and to do it in a timely enough manner to be able to find a path forward before it becomes contentious.

Greg Kaster:

Right.

Dan Poffenberger:

I just love that aspect of what’s happened with the board over time, and I feel lucky that I got to witness both the pain of why that needed to happen and the process by which it came to happen, and the full embrace of that structure by both the faculty and the board and the administration. So that I’m extremely pleased about and grateful to have been along with for the ride on that. With regard to racial …

Greg Kaster:

Yes.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, so I’ll stop there. But with regard to racial justice I might have one other thing to say-

Greg Kaster:

Sure.

Dan Poffenberger:

… about the board. After the murder of George Floyd, the board’s first impulse was to say something, and we slowed down a little bit. A lot of the board looks like me, right? They’re white, privileged, older, and I think we came to realize once we slowed down a little bit that actually the board needs to be in a listening position here and in a learning position that especially our students, our younger alums that are in the board, and some of the faculty have a much deeper lived experience and vocabulary and construction about these issues, and that we really can bring an openness to the situation and an eagerness to be helpful, and healthy, and positive, but that we needed to step back so that we could learn from the students and the faculty, and our young trustees to help us navigate this in a way that would be most helpful. I think the risk of speaking too soon but from a position of kind of either innocence or ignorance would not have served us well, and I’m really glad that we’ve slowed down a little bit and have decided to take a learning posture so that we can be supportive of the really needed changes that have to happen here.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, I mean, I couldn’t agree more. The board’s resolution reflects that. The resolution passed maybe in October.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, yeah.

Greg Kaster:

I can’t remember. Also, I have to say that is, at the first Academic Affairs Committee meeting of the board, which you chaired. I’m on it as a member of the senate. It was an online meeting, you chaired it so well, so efficient but also so willing to hear and listen, that you made that point quite clearly. That impressed me for all the reasons you just said and also because there’s no way to understand this stuff without understanding some of the history behind it. Just the idea that a board member, a past chair of the board and the chair of the Academic Affairs Committee saying that, right? We need to listen, and that’s a through line in all your work I’ve seen and just reading about you, and that openness to listening is so key and so important. I don’t know how one learns without that first of all about anything.

Dan Poffenberger:

Right, right.

Greg Kaster:

Anyway, I’m thinking about how my colleagues elsewhere listening to this podcast will be envious that you’re not on their board, but too bad.

I want to ask you a little bit about in the time remaining. Future studies, I just found that so interesting. A doctorate of ministry semiotics and future studies. Is that one program all from Portland [crosstalk 00:59:51]?

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, it was.

Greg Kaster:

What’s that about? What led you to that? Again, I think it reflects your intellectual curiosity.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah. Yeah, there was an author and teacher who was at one point I think the dean of theology at Drew named Len Sweet, and he’s just an author that had captivated me a little, but he specializes in language and metaphor more than anything. A friend of mine applied for this program and asked me to be a reference, and once I looked at it I thought, “Let me do this with you.” I got to just say, at 50 years old it’s great to go back and learn again. I think I read more in those three years than I had in 10 years. It’s really a study about metaphors, and the power of metaphors, and the power of story. It was really great to immerse myself in that, and my particular artifact that I worked on was about agile organizations, lean organizations and taking design theory as a concept as well as self-directed work teams and imagining and then practicing congregations being a flat organization. So doing away with all the typical committees and structures of a congregation and allowing the people of the congregation to self-organize and do important work on their own. So anyway, I’m kind of an organizational design junkie a little bit [crosstalk 01:01:26].

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, [crosstalk 01:01:28]. Yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

In the end it was about releasing the creative power of the congregation, and I believe in that. I’m not always the most perfect practitioner of all of that, but it was really stimulating, and the reading I got to do was extremely diverse. So yeah, I think for me it was both the content of what I was learning and just the process of learning itself that was really invigorating later in my career to kind of have another rebirth of creativity, and energy, and imagination.

Greg Kaster:

Wow. This is a perfect ending for a podcast called Learning for Life. Learning for life at Gustavus, seriously.

Dan Poffenberger:

Perfect.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. It’s so funny, I feel so alive when I’m learning. Whether teaching and learning, learning from students, reading. It’s such a good feeling.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, yeah.

Greg Kaster:

This has been a pleasure. I could keep going, but I know I’m supposed to keep it to roughly an hour, so we’ll have to stop.

Dan Poffenberger:

Yeah, there we go.

Greg Kaster:

But thank you Dan so much. Pastor Poffenberger, thank you so much. Good luck with all the work and the continuing online creativity as we get through the current pandemic. Thank you also for all your work on behalf of Gustavus, including your self-governance work, yeah.

Dan Poffenberger:

Thank you for your good leadership and scholarship. Thanks for the opportunity, Greg, yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, take care. Thank you. Bye-bye.

Dan Poffenberger:

Blessings. Thanks.

 

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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