Conversing at the Coffee Hour

I like to think of this blog, the Day1 website and, perhaps by extension the whole social networking/exchange of ideas aspect of the internet, as one big church coffee hour.   At the coffee hour you have a chance to catch up with old friends, maybe meet some new people, perhaps "chew" over the sermon, but at the very least have some interesting conversation.  And just like I would do at a coffee hour I was visiting for the first time (this is my first blog after all), I should introduce myself.

You can see by my name tag that I am the Rev. Dr. Peter Samuelson.  I put the "Dr." in there just to impress you.  Actually, both titles are big reasons why I am here and blogging. I grew up in various places in the upper Midwest (mainly Minnesota) and attended St. Olaf College for my undergraduate degree.  I got my Masters of Divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and was ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1987. I began my ministry serving a two-point parish in northeast Iowa, a call I shared with my wife, the Rev. Dr. Debra Samuelson (also a blogger on this site). 

After that call, I spent the next five years in an eclectic array of positions, in various churches around northeast Iowa and as an adjunct instructor of religion at Warburg College in Waverly, Iowa where we lived.  In 1995 we moved to Atlanta, GA and I took a little break from church work and went back to an old trade I knew before entering seminary, working as a carpenter while I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up.  I settled on entering a Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology at GA State University to pursue an interest in moral and religious development, a degree I finished in 2007. I find human development endlessly fascinating. 

I am currently serving Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Atlanta as their Senior Pastor (a slight inflation of my position as there are no Junior Pastors).  It is a predominantly African-American congregation situated in an historic middle-class African-American neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta. I have been there since 2003. I also am a part-time instructor in the College of Education at Georgia State University in Atlanta, teaching a seminar in Social and Personality Development.

I already mentioned that I am married to the Rev. Dr. Debra von Fischer Samuelson. I met her at my home parish in Minneapolis, MN when I returned there from college. (I married the intern!) We have two grown children, Miriam, a graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where she majored in "Social Justice Studies"  (she is currently employed at the college) and Isaac, who is a student at the University of San Francisco pursuing a "Performing Arts and Social Justice" major.

I plan to write out of my experience in this blog. (What else can I do?)  So you might expect some reflections on the intersection of developmental psychology and religion, some thoughts about race, culture and religion, some flotsam and jetsam from my sermons and newsletter articles, fragments of conversations with my kids about social justice and maybe even some helpful home maintenance tips.  One aspect of human beings I find endlessly fascinating is our use of metaphor to convey meaning.  You might find a thought or two about that as well. 

At any rate, I am happy to be here, thankful to have a chance to converse, and anxious to hear your thoughts.  Hope to see you here next time.