Walking With The Saints In New Orleans and Beyond

By Kimberly Knowle-Zeller (’10)
tedeum 34-2 knowleI remember my first trip to New Orleans in 1997 for the youth gathering, “A River of Hope.” I was entering my sophomore year in high school, and the trip for my small youth group of four garnered the attention and excitement of our entire congregation. My most vivid and powerful memory from New Orleans that year wasn’t the inspiring speakers, the musicians, the dances at night, or eating at Cafe Du Monde, but rather the crowd of youth leaving the Superdome each night following the evening dome service. I never experienced a crowd of this magnitude, a crowd I can still picture to this day. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was a citizen with the saints.
I remember walking up the ramp to the entrance of Trinity Lutheran Seminary the summer before my senior year in high school. It was the inaugural summer for Summer Seminary Sampler, and I walked up that ramp to indulge in three weeks of seminary life - three weeks that I couldn’t even begin to imagine.
I met current seminary students who were to be my inspiration for the next three weeks and for years to come. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was a citizen with the saints.
Fast forward beyond my graduation from Wittenberg University and my participation as a global citizen through the Peace Corps, to another walk up the ramp to Trinity Lutheran Seminary. This time I would call myself a seminarian. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was a citizen with the saints.
Today, I have the privilege and awe of being called pastor. God’s call brought me to Missouri, where Trinity grads are few and far between. So, when the opportunity came to attend the 2012 Youth Gathering in New Orleans, I jumped at the chance to
contedeum 34-2 zellernect with Trinity alumni and to share with others the good news of what God is up to among the people and ministries at Trinity Lutheran Seminary.
In New Orleans last summer, serving as a representative for Trinity and the Sampler program, I met with grads and Samplarians from throughout the United States. With Samplarians, I shared stories of volunteering at Faith Mission, of leading worship at Trinity, of being both inspired and intimidated by Dr. Paul Harms and the task of preaching, of classes about contemporary Christian music, and of the gift of Pastor Ruth Fortis. The Trinity grads who connected at the gathering shared stories about calls, about our level of preparedness for the unexpected in ministry, about internship blessings, and whether the flag football team won at Luther Bowl. With my colleagues, especially those newly ordained, we reveled in the fact that we were actually doing ministry, that we actually had a call. We smiled. We shook our heads at our own steep learning curves and we cherished our seminary time as sacred time. We were grateful to know one another and to be serving God’s church together.

I also met high school students and youth directors hungry for more understanding and knowledge about this thing we understand as call. They had questions of vocation; questions of a desire to serve God and others. And in the midst of 33,330 high school youth, in the midst of a city redefining hope, in the midst of one high-five after another, and in the midst of the crowds leaving the Superdome, I could picture the steps to Trinity Lutheran Seminary. For the steps I took year after year are indeed the steps of the saints to come. They are the steps of those who desire to know God’s heart and to live committed to our neighbors. My steps up the Trinity ramp connect me to the thousands of others who have traveled a similar path, and who now walk as citizens with the saints.
We are all citizens with the saints.