Elise Anderson

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Elise Anderson

Where are you from?

Evanston, IL (just north of Chicago)

Undergrad & Majors (example: Pacific Lutheran University, Physics)

Florida State University (Athletic Training)

Georgia State University (Sports Medicine, Masters)

What kind of service experience have you had in the past?

I was lucky that my parents got me involved in service projects from a very early age and encouraged me to find causes I am passionate about. I have always been incredibly passionate and driven towards working toward healthcare justice and HIV/AIDS advocacy. I try to stay involved with organizations that work towards healthcare issues. My favorite service experiences came when I was working as a volunteer in South Africa with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Young Adults in Global Missions (YAGM) program. I served there for a year and was able to work in a childcare center and a Christian Council that served the region in multiple ways. But my favorite was working as a volunteer occupational therapist for one of the local hospitals. I got to bring my sports medicine background to the clinic and worked with stroke patients, assault victims, and children with cerebral palsy. It was hands down one of the most impactful experiences of my life.  

How have you been involved in community service/social justice issues while in seminary?

Currently I serve as the student coordinator for my seminary’s public church fellowship program. PCF is a scholarship program that places seminarians with not for profit organizations in order to build bridges between the church and the needs of the community while also allowing seminarians to gain experience living out their faith in the world in real time while getting their educations.

Before taking over as the student coordinator I worked as an intern for the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project. The organization worked with clients who are acutely homeless; the organization would pay for housing for clients and assign them a mentor to help establish goals for education, vocation, and future housing. I helped organize their fundraisers for the year and redesign their processes to match their growing needs.

What type of “ministry” do you see yourself doing?

I’m currently feeling called to do traditional parish ministry. I feel strongly that being a parish pastor is one of the greatest opportunities to impact and belong to a community. I would love to find a way to incorporate my love of healthcare work by either starting or working for a free/ low income clinic, and if I can incorporate my church in that some how then all the better!

What topics or issues would you be open to sharing about with groups?

During my time in seminary I have found discussion around “what is public church?” and the future of theological education to be especially engaging. I think the answer to this is truly unique to each person and their experiences in life and can lead to discussions on faith, social justice issues, service, community organizing, and so much more. I have really enjoyed discerning my own forms of ministry but also talking to other students and faculty about how they see the church engaging in the world in order to make positive change. It is something so important in our current time.

What were your favorite courses in undergrad? Seminary? Why?

As you probably noticed from my previous degrees I had a bit of a switch in vocational calling that lead me to ministry. When I was studying sports medicine and public health in undergrad and during my first masters my favorite classes were ones where I was really learning hands on. I’d have to say my absolute favorite class was Epidemiology from a Public Health perspective. It was all about communicable diseases and how they affect the body, how they are prevented and treated. Sounds kind of weird that it was my favorite class but I have always been fascinated by science, how the body works; its strengths and weaknesses and this class allowed me to dive in at a cellular level. I also enjoyed it because even though these diseases are still rampant in many parts of the world they are preventable and can be prevented through efforts by every day people that care. Solutions like mosquito netting, clean water, proper sanitation; these are all things that the church can organize and provide to communities that need them.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to be a parish pastor but also to be able to work with a global health organization to help develop and sustain successful healthcare systems in underdeveloped parts of the world.

What do you like to do when you’re not changing the world?

Spending time with my friends and family will always be at the top of my list. There is almost nothing better then binge watching Parks and Rec with ice cream and your best friend! But I also love long distance running, a good book, and occasionally painting.