Loving theology

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ordained as a Lutheran pastor in 1981, the Rev. Daphne Hamborg began in March as the permanent pastor at Bear Lake Concordia Lutheran Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Conger. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

The Rev. Daphne Hamborg hasn’t always wanted to be a pastor.

When she first began college, she was an English composition major.

But because she always had an interest in theology, along with writing and interacting with people, it seemed like a place to put her interests together.

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Through the encouragement of a few mentors — who were also pastors — Hamborg, who is from the Albert Lea area, applied at Luther Seminary.

To her surprise, she got in and loved what she learned.

Hamborg, now an ordained pastor for almost 30 years, recently became the permanent pastor at two rural Freeborn County churches — Bear Lake Concordia Lutheran Church in rural Albert Lea and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Conger.

“The people have been great — very, very welcoming and enthusiastic,” she said. “I love living in the country.”

Hamborg, who graduated from Luther Seminary in 1981, has a master’s degree in divinity and a degree in church history. She is working on another degree in anthropology through Mankato State.

She received her first call in 1982 in Nebraska through the American Lutheran Church, a predecessor to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and has since worked in the Omaha, Neb., area before moving back to Minnesota in 1995.

Last fall she began talking to the Synod office about acquiring a part-time interim position. One such position was at Bear Lake Concordia Lutheran Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church. She interviewed and began shortly after.

Having been mostly at larger churches, the position was much different than some of the other positions she has worked in.

The position continued beyond an interim one in March when she started on a permanent basis. She lives in a house next to the Bear Lake church.

There are 130 people in the Bear Lake Concordia congregation and about 50 people in the St. Paul congregation.

Having grown up in the area — and having parents who still live in Albert Lea — she said it has been fun to move back to Freeborn County.

Hamborg said she’s learning a lot about rural life and rural ministry, which have different needs and different challenges than ministry in larger cities.

While there are different needs at both Bear Lake Concordia and St. Paul churches, she said it is her goal to develop enriching ministry for both congregations.

“I think there’s real charm in rural congregations,” Hamborg said. “There’s intimacy and fellowship and spiritual connections that are unique.”

She recently conducted a survey with the people attending both churches to find out their religious needs and desires.

“I was startled how deep an interest there was in prayer and learning how to pray,” Hamborg said.

She hopes to address this desire and learn how she can address other rural needs as well.

She also hopes to enhance the youth ministry at both churches, which right now includes about 35 youth from infant age through high school age.

Most of the people who attend the churches have generations of family in the congregations.

She said she loves being with people — that’s one of her favorite things about ministry.

And aside from her work as a pastor, Hamborg said she has a love of animals and is interested in getting involved with the Freeborn County Humane Society. She also loves learning about history, reading and studying.

Her family, especially her six nieces and nephews and one great-niece, are very important to her.

Daphne Hamborg
Age: 57
Address: 15550 690th Ave., Albert Lea
Family: parents, Millard and Phyllis Hamborg of Albert Lea
Livelihood: half-time pastor at Bear Lake Concordia Lutheran Church of rural Albert Lea and St. Paul Lutheran Church of Conger, half-time student in anthropology through Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Interesting fact: Hamborg was the first woman in the American Lutheran Church to get a pastoral call in Nebraska.