By Grace Corbin

It was 6:45 in the morning. I was standing in the bathroom of my house, straightening my hair and getting ready for another day of classes during my junior year of high school. This is, for many people, a time when they start asking themselves: “What’s next?” Now, I had been asking myself that question since fourth grade. And, by eleventh grade, I had thought business was a likely vocation for me. I was organized and knew I had gifts in leading people.

My mother had a different idea, however. She walked up to me that morning – while I was straightening my hair – and said, “You know, I think you should be a pastor.” I paused, gave her a quizzical look, and began to laugh. “What? No way!” was my reply.

“How did I end up here?”

Fast forward to today. I am working for the Minneapolis Area Synod as a congregational organizer on environmental concerns and plan to attend seminary eventually to (very likely) become a pastor. How did I end up here?


GROWING UP I NEVER THOUGHT that I would follow in my father’s footsteps by becoming a pastor. Now it feels like that path is set before me.

I have questioned a thousand times whether becoming an ELCA pastor is the right choice. Each time, I remind myself of the things I love about this denomination: Lutheran theology and a strong commitment to community.

Having studied some Lutheran theology, I appreciate Lutheran theological core convictions. The strong reliance we place on God’s grace reminds me to be gracious to myself and others.

In that same vein, I adore the claim that we are simultaneously sinner and saint. This phrase reminds me of my fallibility and my power. This claim also guides me in my work for justice and raising up of leaders in the church to create change. We are a broken but powerful people and collectively can create a more just society.

“I adore the claim that we are simultaneously sinner and saint. This phrase reminds me of my fallibility and my power.”

This calling – to create a more just society – is my hope for and challenge to the ELCA. I love this church, but I continuously struggle with the ways in which justice is not pursued or lived out in our communities. At the same time, I am grateful to have many friends and colleagues with whom I can work to challenge the ELCA to participate in working and advocating just and healthy communities in which congregations reside.

I recognize that the Lutheran church is doing many, many things right. That’s why I am still here. I love what the Lutheran church aspires to be. Steeped in its Lutheran values and community-mindedness, the ELCA is on a path to be to becoming a more just institution. I am excited and hopeful for the journey ahead for us all.