Garrison Keillor talks Lutheran with Concordia students

By Ashley Effken and Sol Grosskopf

Editor’s note: Earlier this spring, a group of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, students had the opportunity to meet Garrison Keillor (far right) while he was in St. Louis for his long-standing radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. Ashley Effken (on right, in front of Keillor), a 1st-year M.A. student in the seminary’s deaconess program, and Sol Grosskopf (left, in bowtie), a 2nd-year M.Div. student, provide this report.

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On Saturday, April 30th, several Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, students got to meet Garrison Keillor and attend the recording of his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. Mr. Keillor’s radio show was performing live at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

During the afternoon, several seminarians got to watch the rehearsals of A Prairie Home Companion before the show went live. About a dozen of those who attended the rehearsal also had tickets to the live broadcast and were privileged to meet Mr. Keillor following the show. Among of the highlights of the program were the guest performers, which included jazz musician Erin Bode (sister of the Concordia Seminary’s own Prof. Gerry Bode), who performed several songs including “Be Still My Soul” (LSB 752) which she dedicated to the recent tornado victims. Throughout the show Lutherans, Lutheran women, and Concordia Seminary itself were mentioned several times.

During our post-performance conversation with Mr. Keillor, he indicated great interest in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and our understanding of the role of women in the church and in our traditional liturgy. Mr. Keillor, an Episcopalian, told us stories about his preference for “high church” worship styles. He appreciated that our liturgical style focused our worship on God instead of the charisma of the minister or the feelings of the worshipers. While he himself is not Lutheran, he had knowledge of many of our beliefs and traditions, and was familiar with many of our “Lutheran stereotypes.”

Overall, it was a unique and interesting opportunity to talk to someone who has presented our Lutheran beliefs and culture throughout the United States. For those in training to be tellers of the world’s greatest story, it was a great pleasure to talk with and meet one of America’s most well-known story tellers.

“Well, you have to try. That’s the Lutheran philosophy.” —Garrison Keillor, Life Among the Lutherans

An archived recording of the show can be found at: http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2011/04/30/

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