The power of stories to be shared by Minnesota author at Plymouth church

Faith & Life lecture series to feature William Kent Krueger March 9 at St. Philip the Deacon

Now in it’s 14th season, St. Philip the Deacon’s Faith & Life lecture series has provided audiences with a variety of speakers to inspire and encourage thought.

St. Paul author William Kent Krueger will present “Faith & Fiction: The Enlightening Power of Stories” Thursday, March 9 at St. Philip the Deacon. (Submitted photo)
St. Paul author William Kent Krueger will present “Faith & Fiction: The Enlightening Power of Stories” Thursday, March 9 at St. Philip the Deacon. (Submitted photo)

This next speaking engagement, set for Thursday, March 9, is expected to continue the tradition as New York Times best-selling author William Kent Krueger will share how stories do much more than entertain, “they’re good for our spirits and our spirituality,” he said, adding stories have the ability to “enlighten us, encourage us, inspire us.”

The St. Paul author is known for his “Cork O’Connor” mystery series set in the Northwoods, along with his novel “Ordinary Grace.”

What he has written, however, will be “unimportant” to the audience, he said, as he plans to focus his lecture, “Faith & Fiction: The Enlightening Power of Stories,” on the medium in which he works.

“The question of whether the audience is familiar with my work is less important than the question of their openness to the message I intend to deliver,” said Krueger. “If they’re open, I believe they’ll not only have a good experience, but will also take much with them when they leave.”
What he hopes lecture series audience members glean from his presentation is “an understanding of the importance in the decisions they make about the stories they choose to read,” he sad. “Some stories are like eating a meal with no nutritional value and leave you hungry. Others truly feed your soul.”

His faith also plays an integral part in his story-telling.
“To be a writer is all about faith – faith in yourself, faith in the spirit that guides your journey, faith that the journey is worthwhile,” said Krueger. “One of the unexpected blessings for me has been the way in which writing my stories has helped me come to a deeper understanding of what I believe spiritually. Stories do so much more than entertain, perhaps especially for those of us who write them.”

About Faith & Life series

St. Philip the Deacon Senior Pastor Tim Westermeyer started the lecture series 14 years ago as a service to the community to provoke thought and inspiration. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)
St. Philip the Deacon Senior Pastor Tim Westermeyer started the lecture series 14 years ago as a service to the community to provoke thought and inspiration. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Free and open to the public, Faith & Life has brought nearly 70 speakers from across the country to the Plymouth community since Pastor Tim Westermeyer began the series. At the time, Westermeyer was pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Plymouth.

As a second-career pastor, Westermeyer came up with the idea for such a forum while transitioning into ministry after working in public relations.
His thought was: “It would be great if we could have welcoming public forums where people from the community could come to hear thoughtful, Christian speakers talk about how our faith connects to different dimensions of everyday life,” said Westermeyer, who is now senior pastor at St. Philip the Deacon.

The goal in finding those speakers would be to “cast a wide net” and find people from all walks of life including authors, politicians, artists and theologians while intentionally focusing on “people who are living out their faith in other ways in the world,” he said.

With the intent of having a wide variety of speakers from across the globe in any given season, Westermeyer said he tries to find people who are “thoughtful, intelligent, and very importantly, engaging.”

The lectures are not intended to be an academic exercise, he noted, rather to provoke thought and inspire others.
Westermeyer sees the series as being a service to the community.
“The point of the series is truly to be a gift to the community and to create something I don’t think we have a lot of in our world – open, welcoming, public spaces, where people can come together to hear thoughtful Christian speakers talk about current issues without the audience feeling they have to agree with everything being said,” he explained.

Now in its 14th year, Faith & Life lecture series has hosted several authors, including Brene Brown and Janis Amatuzio, retired Anoka County coroner. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)
Now in its 14th year, Faith & Life lecture series has hosted several authors, including Brene Brown and Janis Amatuzio, retired Anoka County coroner. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

There are five speakers within a series spanning the year from around late-September through May. A typical event draws 400 to 600 attendees, with the exception of Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, who attracted more than 1,000 attendees, Westermeyer noted. Brown is also the only repeat speaker in the series, having spoken during the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons.

The sponsored events begin at 7 p.m. and typically includes a 45-minute talk and a 20-minute question/answer portion. The speakers are available to either sign books and/or meet with audience members.

Westermeyer welcomes any suggestions for speakers as he is currently working on next year’s series.

For a list of speakers or to listen to past speakers, visit www.faith-and-life.org. Podcasts are also available through iTunes.

The final program of the for this year’s series will be “Faith & Metaphor: Finding God in Symbols” with Lauren Winner, author and assistant professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 4.

Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]