Student Body President ‘excited’ about 150th gala and ‘moving forward in faith’
Student Body President Justin Lingenfelter, an LTSP middler, exudes energy and enthusiasm when he looks forward to being part of the 150th anniversary celebration October 16.
“It will be an awesome night for sure,” Lingenfelter says. The Lutheran from New Tripoli (Lehigh County), Pennsylvania, says he is excited “not only to celebrate where we have been and where we are now but also to be looking ahead toward what is next. I think the celebration is setting just the right tone by moving forward. That is part of our legacy and that is very cool.” Lingenfelter will play a role in a brief liturgical ceremony in Franklin Square (near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge) at the site of the first construction the seminary undertook in 1873, preceding the move the school took to Mt. Airy. He is also pleased at the special event to take place the next day, October 17, on campus, involving gala dinner keynoter ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. “Not every student can afford the price of the dinner,” he says. “And so the event on Friday, which is free and open to everyone, means a lot to our students. It makes everyone part of the celebration.”
Lingenfelter explains he was “pleasantly surprised, inspired and humbled” to be elected president. “We really hit the ground running with all the planning that happened last year. It is exciting to see all our work coming to fruition. We have a lot going on.”
Speaking of his seminary experience so far, Lingenfelter says, “I can’t speak highly enough of how I am being equipped by opportunities to develop my gifts and abilities here.” He talked about field education experiences both in an Hispanic neighborhood in Philadelphia last year and the opportunity to serve a three-point collaborative parish in southern Lehigh County this year – St. Paul’s Lutheran Blue Church near Coopersburg, Friedens Lutheran Church, and St. James Lutheran Church in Coopersburg. The latter assignment enables him to keep in close touch with his family. His dad, Pastor Scott Lingenfelter, is an LTSP alumnus. Lingenfelter also praises his professors “who are preparing me to be the best public leader. I find them to be inspirational.”
He is enthused also about his student colleagues. “They come from so many different places and walks of life,” he says. “Each student has a unique story different from the one you hear from the last person you have met. Their energy is incredible. The number of seminarians living on campus has increased almost exponentially this year.”
Asked to define the direction he thinks the overall church is heading, he says simply: “I honestly don’t know where we are going yet. But I believe we here are being equipped with the tools and resources to adapt to the uncertainties ahead. I think if you were to ask someone 300 years ago where the church would go, that person would not have had the answer. But I think we will take on the next challenges in a beautiful way. With God’s guidance and provisions we will be in a good place.”
Lingenfelter has a vision to become a parish pastor, but admits he has no idea now how that will happen. “I have a lot of listening [to God] to do while I am here,” he explains.
And what is his advice to anyone discerning the possibility of a call to professional ministry? “Even if you are just entertaining the idea, come check the seminary out,” Lingenfelter advises. “We have the resources in this place to support every type of leader. LTSP is a great place to be a part of, and we have many great people to talk to who can help you listen to your own sense of call and what you are being called to. You will have that feeling of assurance as soon as you step on this campus.”
Watch the extended interview: