This week on FirstThird.org we begin sharing the amazing thesis work of our Luther Seminary Children, Youth and Family Ministry MA students. We have five finalists, and will feature one writer and their topic for each of the next five weeks. You’ll be blown away by their ideas and the quality of their thinking about ministry with those in the first third of life. ENJOY
I began my seminary studies with a deep passion for outdoor ministry. My own experiences tell me that nature is able to speak to human spirituality in a very personal and unique way. When the time came to start contemplating the beginnings of my thesis, God offered up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to theoretically and theologically dig into the ways that the wilderness tugs at the spiritual heartstrings of our soul.
In late December 2012, I took off on what I call a wilderness adventure experience. For 30 days, 13 other young adults and I journeyed through the Grand Canyon via the Colorado River with little to no contact with the outside world. Isolation in the Grand Canyon offered the 14 of us time to reflect on the dreams of our lives and it also created the deepest sense of community that our crew may ever know.
Being able to feel God’s creative presence in that canyon, I wanted to know if and how my companions felt that too. On day 21, I asked 4 of them the same question, “How does a trip such as this affect or speak to your spirituality?” All four of these young adults are not Christians but their answers intrigued me to explore more. I put their experiences into conversation with theorists to explore the affects that culture and nature have on one’s spirituality. After putting those findings into dialogue with Theologians Andrew Root and Jurgen Moltmann, I land on the idea that God uses wilderness adventure experiences to move in and through the lives of young.
Watch Amanda’s thesis presentation
Read Amanda’s complete paper
Hi! It’s me, Amanda Nelson! I’m a 27 year old, all-around Lutheran, graduating with my MA in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. I haven’t had much time for hobbies these past two years, but I do in fact enjoy long walks on the beach, if that beach happens to be along a rocky river tucked away in the mountains. I begin writing my next chapter of life when I move out to Montana this summer to begin youth directing at St. Paul Lutheran Church out there. Wish me luck!