Alumni Association President “Excited” About Her Still New Role
The Rev. Annemarie Cook, MDiv ’07, is still new in her service as president of the seminary’s Alumni Association, but she is clearly excited about the role the association is playing in the life of the seminary and the opportunities ahead. Cook is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Maple Shade, New Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia.
“We’ve had a good past year,” Cook explained. “We had a wonderful Spring Convocation that was a real labor of love for our alumni. We were responsible for nearly the entire event. “ The theme of “Living on the Edge” resonated well with alumni, she said. “Attendance was amazing. We want to focus on meaningful work with goals that are significant both to ourselves and to the seminary for the sake of the Gospel. What we want most is not only to reconnect with friends but also to connect with what matters to our understanding of theology and our spiritual lives. The seminary is a wonderful place to learn about God and theology and to share new ideas. Our alumni want to give back, and they are always seeking to be edified in their understanding of ministry. They are eager for new insights, to meet a new professor, and learn about a new book.”
Cook often hears from alumni about how the campus has changed. Older alumni will say the campus is not the same place that they remember from many years ago.
“The campus has changed, both in physical ways and ways that are not so easily perceived,” she said. “When I began my studies here in 2003 The Brossman Learning Center was an empty old building that did not even have a name yet.” The Learning Center construction was under way and completed before she graduated. “Many alumni tell me they are so grateful that the façade for the Old Dormitory is still in place,” she said.
“Also, watching changes in the faculty, the seminary’s curriculum is impressive,” she said. “The changes in curriculum are always designed to keep pace with a perception of what the church needs and what’s required to prepare our graduates for the contexts in which they will be serving.”
She mentioned how much the makeup of the student body has changed from decades ago “in truly wonderful ways. We have seminarians of all ages, backgrounds, and denominations.” She said she came to appreciate the rich scope of the student body during the years she was a seminarian, a kind of campus diversity that is not always reflected multiculturally in Lutheran congregations even though, she said, “many of us are trying to work on that!”
“Many of the changes at the seminary that we see are hard and abrupt as the school attempts to be nimble in a rapidly changing time,” Cook said. “But the changes that are coming about have always been made for the sake of the Gospel and preparing students for ministry.” She said she sees a role of the Alumni Board as being a communications link with alumni to help them understand changes at the school.
“We have to have change,” Cook explained. “Changes come to the congregation where I serve whether we like it or not. God is not static.” Thus, the seminary is striving to help students “become effective leaders better prepared to live in the world that God is creating for us. The school is working to prepare leaders to serve our neighbors the way God is inspiring us to do,” she said.
As Cook left the interview, she explained she was heading home to Maple Shade to pick up a new police chaplain’s uniform. Among her new chaplain responsibilities is to try to be an effective spiritual leader in helping first responders connect to an increasingly diverse interfaith context and lend to support to first responders spiritually with all the challenges they face.