The Rev. Peter W. Marty

Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Organization: St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, IA

Peter W. Marty  serves as senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, a 3500-member congregation in Davenport, Iowa. He is a frequent preacher and speaker at colleges, churches, and conferences across the country. Author of more than 100 articles on leadership, preaching, and parish renewal in America, Marty is also the author of The Anatomy of Grace (Augsburg Fortress, 2008). From 2004-2009, he served as host of the national radio broadcast, Grace Mattersspeaking to more than a million listeners through the program's weekly airing. In 2015 he was named the publisher of The Christian Century magazine.   

In 2010, the Academy of Parish Clergy named him "Parish Pastor of the Year," an award recognizing leadership excellence and faithfulness in congregational development.

Peter has preached in some of America's most notable pulpits including Washington National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, and Yale University. 

Pastor Marty has served on various hospital, college, foundation, and community boards. He serves on the board of trustees for Augustana College, Rock Island, IL. Other writings of his include contributions to several multi-volume works on preaching, and chapters in different books on congregational life and theology. He has served as narrator for different faith broadcast documentaries on the Hallmark channel.

Marty is a one-time fellow of the Fund for Theological Education, and has served as a partner on pastoral leadership for the Fund. He has been a member of the Louisville Institute's Pastor's Working Group, and a past participant in the Duke Project for the Study of Ministry. In 2009, he was named the visiting Hoskins Fellow at Yale Divinity School.

Prior to his arrival in Davenport in 1996, he served an eight-year pastorate in Kansas City, Missouri and a two-year pastorate in River Forest, Illinois. He graduated with honors from both The Colorado College and Yale Divinity School. He was the 1979 recipient of an honors fellowship in history for study at Oxford University. Prior to studies at Yale, Marty lived in Cameroun, West Africa for one and a half years, serving as the director of construction for a mission outpost of the Lutheran Church.

Peter W. Marty has piloted interfaith dialogue events, led Lutheran-Episcopal seminars, and served on different ecumenical ministry boards. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he has served as chair of the Senior Pastors' Conference, and twice as a Colleague Program Leader mentoring new pastors. Presently at St. Paul, he leads a pastoral residency program funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. This program, designed for fostering pastoral excellence, is one of only two in the country situated in a Lutheran Church setting.

He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from St. Ambrose University (Doctor of Humanities).

Peter is married to Susan and they have two adult children - Jacob (program director for the 5Point Film Festival, Carbondale, CO) and Rachel (a student at Colorado State University). He enjoys family travel, woodworking, tennis, French horn, reading, and the adventure of waking up to a new day every day.


Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Peter W. Marty

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Believing Is Seeing

Tuesday April 02, 2024
I don't know many people who would buy a used car sight unseen. No, they go and they check it out. They drive the thing. This is the doctrine we live by: "Seeing is believing." But here is a truth with which we must come to terms today. The church of the resurrected Jesus Christ is founded on a complete reversal of this doctrine. Now, it is "believing is seeing," and not the other way around.

Two of the Sweetest Words Ever Spoken

Tuesday April 05, 2016
The most fundamental claim of our faith, says Peter Marty, is that God always makes the first move in seeking us out, as God did Saul. And in Ananias' visit at God's commend to see this murderer of early Christians, we see God's grace at work.

Trusting God to Settle Scores

Tuesday August 23, 2011
In Paul's to-do list for Christians in community, he urges us to live peaceably. In order to do that, we must turn over our feelings of revenge to God and live in harmony.

Do You Love Jesus?

Tuesday August 16, 2011
Talking about Jesus as an idea is a far cry from trusting your life to Jesus, and believing in the concept of God doesn't begin to compare with actually knowing God. Peter Marty calls for a bone-rattling passion for following Christ.

Christ and Everything Else Thrown In

Sunday September 17, 2006
The Rev. Peter Marty, host of the radio program "[Grace Matters](," and pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, takes a look at what it really means to follow Jesus.

It's Time We Open Up!

Sunday September 10, 2006
The Rev. Peter Marty is the host of the radio program "[Grace Matters](," and is pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Davenport, IA.

Articles by The Rev. Peter W. Marty

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Peter Marty: Letting Go

Friday July 26, 2013
Our lives tighten up around things over which we don't want to lose control. Yet freedom in Christ will only be ours where we find ways to stop clinging to our possessions, bodies and egos.

Peter Marty: Elements of the Lord's Day: Loving Others on Our Knees

Friday February 08, 2013
In his column for The Lutheran magazine, Peter Marty writes, I don't know if you consider the public prayers in your congregation to be rich or anemic. Only you can know if those prayers are talking to the center of God, or if they are busier talking to and at yourselves.

Peter Marty: Elements of the Lord's Day: The Offering Experience

Friday January 04, 2013
The offering moment in Christian worship is undergoing a rapid sea change. The advent of online giving, cash and credit card giving kiosks in some churches, less frequent worship attendance than a generation ago, and widespread ignorance about stewardship among newer Christians means some stark new realities. One can be sitting in the 10th row of a full church and see a nearly empty offering plate go by.

Dr. Peter Marty: Elements of the Lord's Day: The Sermon

Friday November 09, 2012
In his column for the November issue of The Lutheran magazine, Peter Marty continues his series on the Elements of the Lord's Day, focusing on the sermon: Often the sermon is just an earful of talk about God; folks want encounter with God.

Peter Marty: Elements of the Lord's Day: Into Our Ears

Friday October 26, 2012
In his latest column for The Lutheran magazine, Peter Marty writes: Week in and week out, Christians tie their lives to the testimony of some long-ago-people who felt the pulse of God beating in their hearts. Just when we're ready to dismiss those ancients as irrelevant to our lives, a lightbulb often goes on in our heads.

Peter Marty: Elements of the Lord's Day: Moved to Sing

Friday October 12, 2012
Maybe singing in worship isn't all about you, or about any one person for that matter. Maybe it is about what we do together ”” a "living together in harmony," to borrow words from the Apostle Paul.

Dr. Peter Marty: Elements of the Lord's Day: Getting Situated

Friday August 10, 2012
Entering a church for the umpteenth time, one knows the routine. Familiar faces abound. Navigating the space is as easy as walking around your own kitchen. Even the smell of the entryway lends its own cozy hello. Entering a church for the first time is a different story.

Peter Marty: The Windup: Deciding to Get Up and Go to Church

Friday July 13, 2012
Part 1 of a new series on Elements of the Lord's Day: What a peculiar idea that Christians would have to deliberate, in a weekly way, whether or not to go to church. We don't wrestle each morning with whether or not we should brush our teeth or get dressed.

Chris Yaw Interviews Peter Marty: Morale and Trust Are Keys to Healthy Congregations

Tuesday June 12, 2012
The pastor of the fastest growing urban congregation in the Lutheran Church (ELCA) says what draws people to join St. Paul’s is the energy and vibrancy that hits them the first minute they come through the door. Peter Marty says things were not that way 16 years ago when he arrived to pastor a church that was deeply divided and faced a mountain of debt.

Peter Marty: Emmaus: Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord

Friday June 08, 2012
It could be that Emmaus serves as that symbolic place for our lives of faith. It is where we go when the wind empties from our sail. It's the place where we head when grief makes our compass bearings go haywire. When confused and distraught, we often stick out our thumb and hitchhike to Emmaus. Read Peter Marty's column from The Lutheran magazine.

Dr. Peter Marty: Jonah: Changing Course

Friday May 11, 2012
In the latest in his Bible Stories That Breathe Life series, Dr. Peter Marty considers Jonah 3: Somewhere along the way we Christians picked up the notion that to change one's mind is a spiritual weakness. How much better, we reason, to stay absolutely consistent and to convince ourselves that we know perfect truth.

Dr. Peter Marty: An Incognito Lord

Friday April 13, 2012
In his latest column for The Lutheran magazine, Peter Marty writes, "It's amazing that the most affluent country in the history of the world is still trying to find the basic resolve and ingenuity to care for, and feed, all of her people. How can we in this nation, which is more professedly Christian than all of its counterparts in the developed world, still be struggling to practice fundamental Christian behavior?"

Dr. Peter Marty: Host and Guest (Genesis 18)

Friday March 09, 2012
What would life be like absent of all hospitality? Harsh. Difficult. Inhospitable. No wonder the Bible has such a developed theology of hospitality. God wants to give shape to lives that not only welcome the neighbor but, much more challengingly, welcome the stranger. It's the latter that receives priority attention in the Hebrew Bible.

Dr. Peter Marty: Getting What We Never Deserve

Friday February 03, 2012
In his latest column for The Lutheran magazine, Peter Marty says the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is really about his dad's character and unconditional love.

Dr. Peter Marty: A Face That Shines

Friday January 13, 2012
When Moses blessed the Israelites, his words included a line that still radiates divine love: "the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you" (Numbers 6:25). It was his way of letting them know that God's glory is not contained in one face. It is mirrored in the contagious wow of every believer.

Dr. Peter Marty: To be a guide

Friday December 09, 2011
As Christian people trying to live a gospel of grace and make sense of an indiscriminately gracious God, we still have a strange love affair with boundary markers. There is something in the human spirit that causes us to want to think of ourselves as insiders, and others unlike us as outsiders.

Dr. Peter Marty: 10 Bible stories that breathe life: Stockpiling life

Tuesday November 08, 2011
Peter Marty on Exodus 16: "We are still trying to fully appreciate the giver behind our daily bread. Unfortunately, a myth keeps telling us that there is not enough to go around."

Dr. Peter Marty: Climbing Down: What Zacchaeus Can Teach Us

Tuesday October 11, 2011
Jesus ordered Zacchaeus down from both the tree and his "high horse." This is what Jesus does best. He goes after people and doesn't wait for their initiative. He bids us with an urgency to come and follow.

Dr. Peter Marty: A God Bent on Relationship

Tuesday September 06, 2011
What are some of the Bible stories that are indispensable to living the Christian life well? Why are they so valuable to our journey of faith? These are the questions prompting this 10-part series. Part 1: Genesis 3:1-9.

Dr. Peter Marty: The Art of Trusting

Friday August 12, 2011
Of the two most common ways for us to sleep well ”” sheer exhaustion on the one hand, or confidence that all is OK on the other ”” the psalmist hints at the latter. To sleep in peace is to conclude a day in unworried fashion, confident in God's care.

Dr. Peter Marty: Part Mystery, Part Mess

Saturday July 09, 2011
Those who give it a serious piece of their lives quickly discover that the church is often 51 percent mystery and 49 percent mess. They also find out that no matter how flawed the individuals within it may be, the church still happens to be the garden of God's grace.

Video by The Rev. Peter W. Marty

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The Rev. Dr. Peter Marty - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Thursday February 16, 2012
The Rev. Peter Marty sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace for a wide ranging discussion focused on the future of ministry, how the church is handling the media world, and how things are going in his own congregation.