Peter Marty ’85 M.Div.

2022Distinction in Congregational Ministry

At the heart of YDS is the commitment to train women and men for the lay and ordained ministries of the church. The award for Distinction in Congregational Ministry annually goes to an individual who has shown exceptional pastoral competence in the work of the mission of local congregations. This year we are glad to honor the Rev. Peter Marty.

The Rev. Peter Marty is senior pastor of a 3500-member church in Davenport, Iowa. At the same time, he is a leading public interpreter of American religious life: he is editor/publisher of Christian Century magazine.

As minister of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport for the past 26 years, he has led a vibrant place of worship, hospitality, and service. In a ministerial vocation that spans four decades, he has done much to promote healthy pastoral leadership, preaching, and congregational vitality and renewal. He has been affiliated with the Fund for Theological Education, the Louisville Institute’s Pastors Working Group, and the Duke Project for the Study of Ministry. From 2004-2009 he hosted the national radio series Grace Matters, and he is the author of The Anatomy of Grace (Augsburg Fortress, 2008), which speaks to everyday moments of divine generosity in personal or congregational life. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Marty has served as chair of the Senior Pastors’ Conference, and twice as a Colleague Program Leader mentoring new pastors. In 2010 he was named “Parish Pastor of the Year” by Academy of Parish Clergy.

Not least, he also leads The Christian Century, a flagship publication that has bolstered the national conversation about religious faith and public life for more than a century. It’s no coincidence that Marty’s heart for congregations should complement his leadership at The Century. Throughout these years, this remarkable combination—his congregational work, editorial diligence, and love for the people of God—has been mutually enriching and created a historic life of ministry. 

His lead column in each issue of The Century provides a deft pastoral comment on the latest public trend or crisis, as well as a welcome Christian social witness that is open and forward-looking, not closed or fearful. There he recently wrote on questions of neuroscience, rationalism, and belief, saying:

“In the realm of faith, we know much more than our mind or intellect can tell us. We know that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities are able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. It’s not deductive reasoning that gives us this knowledge: it’s faith tied to love.”[1]

[1] Peter Marty, “Love’s Knowledge,” Christian Century, June 15, 2022, p. 3.