My name is Frank Senn. I’m a retired Lutheran pastor living in Evanston, IL. I was in parish ministry for forty years, serving five different congregations in South Bend, IN, Louisville, KY, Chicago, IL, Lincolnshire, IL, and Evanston, IL. I was assistant professor of liturgics at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago 1978-81 and in retirement I continue to teach in various academic institutions in the USA and abroad. I have been an adjunct professor of liturgy at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL since 2008. I have also served as president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, president of The Liturgical Conference, and senior of the Society of the Holy Trinity, a pastoral order which I helped to found in 1997.
I have a BA in music from Hartwick College, an MDiv from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and a PhD in theology (liturgical studies) from the University of Notre Dame.
I am the author of about a dozen books, which are listed under “Publications,” and hundreds of articles and reviews in journals and encyclopedias.
Here’s the story of how “Frank Answers” originated. Toward the end of my pastorate at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston, where I served for 23 years, I used my “homily time” at midweek Lenten Vespers for Q & A. I often gave homilies on the Catechism at Lenten Vespers, with the idea that Lent is a time for everyone to “return to the catechumenate” (or at least the Catechism). People wrote out questions in advance. I sorted through them, organized them, and gave answers the following week. It was well received.
Then a member of the congregation suggested that I ought to continue this kind of pastoral question-and-answer on the church web site. We invited questions from anyone, not just members of the congregation. We specified that the questions had to be related to some issue within my areas of expertise—theology, worship, religion, spirituality. All together I answered fifty questions by the time I retired in June 2013. As the former pastor of Immanuel, of course, I had to abandon the church’s web site and eventually all the “Frank Answers” had to be deleted from the Immanuel web site. So they were lost to the internet.
But in early 2015 I looked over the answers I had written and thought some of them might have longer shelf life on the internet. So now in retirement (and really so far not lacking in things to do—especially writing and teaching) I thought maybe “Frank Answers” should come out of retirement. My son-in-law Ben Bauer set up this blog platform and I started this new series it by posting some of the old Questions and Answers to see if I could elicit some interest out there on the world wide web.
This new blog was inaugurated with the same idea. Anyone can ask a question. You don’t have to be a church person, a Christian, or even religious. But the questions have to be in my areas of expertise—theology, religion, worship, ritual, morality, spirituality, parenting, even yoga. (In retirement I’ve become an ardent yogi and have studied yoga history and philosophy.) I avoid politics. I’m bold enough to give answers to what I know and have opinions on, but hopefully not foolish enough to write about issues in which I lack expertise (even though I might have opinions). I’ll keep up the blog as long as it’s fun for me. After all, I’m retired. I can do the things I want to do.
So please send your questions.
Pastor Frank Senn, STS