Denominational Executive

photo of KariKari
MDiv from YDS
MA in International Relations from Yale's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (major in human rights)
Associate director for studies in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, also associate pastor at a Chicago area Lutheran Church.

I entered YDS planning to get a joint degree after experience working abroad convinced me that the church has a particular voice and particular responsibilities in the public arena. Ultimately, I wanted to work as a pastor and advise the church on its public statements. I am doing both of those things now, but in different proportions than I anticipated.

My work at the ELCA churchwide office has two main parts. I work on the writing process for the church's social policy, and I edit the online Journal of Lutheran Ethics, found at

So far it has been wide-ranging and challenging. I have worked on a message on commercial sexual exploitation, I act as advisory staff to the ELCA's studies on sexuality, and I am co-writing a social policy resolution on genetically modified organisms. Journal of Lutheran Ethics, which attracts somewhere between 8 and 10,000 visitors per month, publishes essays on everything from the doctrines of the two kingdoms and just war (especially popular as of late!) to essays on pastoral ethics.

There were so many opportunities at Yale-the Coffin-Forsberg program supported time at Christian Community Action the first year, I worked two years in an amazing field placement, and I experienced the collegiality and formation of the Lutheran Studies program. The international relations program at the graduate school was flexible, and allowed me to take coursework which suited my plan of study. My advice for YDS students, such as it is, would be twofold. First, do a field placement. It's vital for integrating the excellent academics of YDS with the daily struggles in the lives of faithful people. Second, I would say students should take classes in other schools and discover just how cynical (and uninformed) many people are when it comes to the church