By Sondra Higgins Matthaei
Linda J. Vogel (b.2/12/40) is a United Methodist deacon whose teaching and writing embody her call to a ministry of justice. Dr. Vogel's life work has focused on teaching and learning in faith communities beginning with children and moving later into a special interest in religious education with older adults. This work, along with her more recent writings in adult education and then in spirituality (the latter in partnership with her lifetime friend and spouse, Dwight), has made a significant contribution to our understanding of religious education. After twenty years as Associate Professor and Director of Continuing Education at Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa, Dr. Vogel taught for sixteen years as Professor at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where she is now Professor Emerita of Christian Education and Senior Scholar.
Born into a "Santa Fe railroad family" in 1940 and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Linda Vogel was the eldest of three daughters of Samuel P. and Gladys M. Baker. This year, as Linda was packing to move to Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, she found a penny postcard (addressed to her with a one cent stamp postmarked 1947 and a picture of the San Bernardino Union Station) with this message: "Better jump on a diesel and come on out. You'd really like it. Love, Aunt Gertrude." Linda commented, "I imagine Aunt Gertrude would be surprised to find me living here!"
Linda graduated from Topeka High School (after Brown vs. Board of Education), but she noted that there was only one high school in Topeka then, and the high school had always been integrated. After one year at North Central College in Naperville IL, Linda married Dwight at Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church in Topeka on June 14, 1959.
She gradauated from Boston University (1963) while Dwight was in graduate school. She finished one year of her master's in Christian education at Andover Newton before they moved to Evanston, IL so Dwight could complete his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. Linda was able to complete two quarters of study at Garrett Theological Seminary and to write her thesis with Wesner Fallaw, graduating with an M.R.E. (cum laude) from Andover Newton in 1964.
The Vogel's family expanded when they adopted their first child (Peter Jonathan) in 1965, became legal guardians for their second but eldest son, Mark Stephen Pulver, in 1966, and adopted their daughter, Kristin Deborah, in 1967.
It is clear that teaching has been at the heart of Dr. Vogel's ministry, as she embodies her call as deacon to "service" through love and justice. From the beginning, Dr. Vogel focused on more than the content of teaching, but she has come to realize that process is equally important as the subject to be explored. She believes that the tools and resources of process can be used to guide persons in engaging content at an advanced level that they have not yet experienced.
In September 1965 the Vogels moved to LeMars, IA where they taught at Westmar College until 1985. During that time, Dr. Vogel taught Christian education, developed a minor in gerontology, and served as Director of Continuing Education. She shares that one of her joys during this time was to be the advisor for the increasing number of second career students. This experience with her students contributed to Dr. Vogel's growing interest in religious education for older adults.
Helping a Child Understand Death , (1975) which was published by Fortress Press and later translated into Spanish was completed during Dr. Vogel's first sabbatical at the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at St. John's University in Collegeville MN. Following her sabbatical, Dr. Vogel commuted to the University of Nebraska at Omaha to complete a graduate specialization in gerontology in 1977.
A tiny Iowa town (Martelle) was the site of the Vogels' second sabbatical in 1979-1980 so Linda could attend the University of Iowa. She graduated with a Ph.D. in adult education and gerontology in 1981 with a dissertation on How Older Adults Perceive and Legitimize Their Adult Participation in Schools and Churches . Dr. Vogel's second book, The Religious Education of Older Adults , was published in 1984 and she began doing continuing education events in gerontology, in addition to events on death and dying.
Dr Vogel was a diaconal minister who was later ordained as a deacon in full connection in the United Methodist Church. So when the Vogels left Westmar College in 1985 after twenty years, they asked for an appointment to a church where they could serve in ministry together. This led them to St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Dubuque, IA where Dr. Vogel served as Minister of Education and continued her teaching ministry with the laity of the church. It was the tragic death of a young woman in this congregation that later would lead to Dr. Vogel's book, Rituals for Resurrection (1996).
In 1987 Dr. Vogel was urged to join the faculty at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and after a period of discernment, she decided to do so. After a one-year commuter marriage, Dwight left St. Luke's to join Linda in Chicago where he, too, joined the faculty at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.
During their time at Garrett-Evangelical, the Vogels spent one January traveling with their good friend, Father David Fleming, S.M., in India where he was living. It was during this trip that Linda met Mother Teresa in Calcutta. The power of that experience can still be heard as Linda recounts the 20-minute conversation in which Mother Teresa talked of her ministry and then asked for prayers that she and her sisters "remain faithful and not interfere with God's work."
Teaching and Learning in Communities of Faith: Empowering Adults through Religious Education (1991), a book that serves as a valuable guide for religious education because of its biblical, theological and educational grounding, as well as its practical proposals for how to help adults "sculpt meaning" for lives of faith was the result of Dr. Vogel's next sabbatical.
Deeply held commitments and shared interest led the Vogels to begin a period of joint writing projects with a one-semester sabbatical at the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at St. John's where they completed their first book together, Sacramental Living: Falling Stars and Coloring outside the Lines (Upper Room Books, 1999). This was followed by Syncopated Grace: Times and Seasons with God (2002).
Linda Vogel retired in 2003 as Professor Emerita and Senior Scholar at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. In summing up Dr. Vogel's contribution to teaching, Dr. Jack Seymour, Dean of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, wrote, "Linda was a wonderful colleague - team teaching with energy and joy - and standing beside Ph.D. students as they grew in their professional and scholarly and teaching development."
In a recent interview with Dr. Vogel, I asked her about the significant influences on her life and teaching ministry. She talked at some length of Ellen Oliver who taught at Westmar and was a mentor who helped her learn what it means to be a woman and a professor. This was in the days when gender expectations were that women wore skirts and were deferential to men in authority. So when the President's secretary was chastised for wearing a pants suit to work, Mrs. Oliver and Dr. Vogel in solidarity wore pants suits to teach their classes.
Dr. Vogel's advocacy for justice was only beginning. While living in LeMars, Iowa, Dr. Vogel was one of the original organizers of a rural hospice, one of the first in the country, as well as one of the original founders and first president of the League of Women Voters.
Another influence named by Dr. Vogel was Randolph Crump Miller's work on biblical theology. This influence is clearly evident in Teaching and Learning in Communities of Faith as she challenges teachers and learners to make connections between the biblical Story and their own life experiences and questions. Dr. Vogel also reflected on the influence of Maria Harris, especially her overall understanding of Christian religious education developed in the book Fashion Me a People , and of Thomas Groome's shared praxis approach to teaching and learning.
One group that was of particular importance in Dr. Vogel's professional development was the United Methodist Association of Professors (now Scholars) in Christian Education which holds biennial consultations on topics of importance to the church and world.
As a young teacher, Linda was treated as a colleague by this group of college and seminary professors who mentored her and encouraged her to get her doctorate. One member of this group, Dr. Nelle Slater, became Dr. Vogel's mentor and life-long friend as they first worked together in a consultation task group on the issue of Christian Education as a discipline.
Contributions to Christian Education
In addition to her contributions to our knowledge and understanding of Christian religious education through her publications, Dr. Vogel has also made a substantive contribution to the church through her leadership.
I had an opportunity to work with Dr. Vogel on a candidacy task force at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry for the "new" diaconal ministry in The United Methodist Church in the late 1970's. Her insight and wisdom were instrumental in creating a candidacy process focused on mentoring and spiritual discernment for persons called to a ministry of justice and service. Together we participated in early mentor trainings for the church.
Dr. Vogel continued as a consultant to the Division of Diaconal Ministry in the years of the United Methodist Church's ministry study that followed as the church considered whether or not to establish a permanent order of ordained deacons. During this time, Dr. Vogel wrote "Two responses to 'diaconal ministry: vision and reality'" published in Quarterly Review: A Journal of Scholarly Reflection for Ministry in 1991.
Our professional relationship and friendship continued to develop through our shared participation in the United Methodist Association of Scholars in Christian Education (UMASCE). In her term as President of this organization, Dr. Vogel led our biennial consultation in an exploration of cultural pluralism and the teaching office in the church. This led to her article, "Cultural pluralism and the teaching office: Where do we go from here?" in Quarterly Review: A Journal of Scholarly Reflection for Ministry in Fall 1992.
Dr. Vogel's commitment to justice led to her participation in a UMASCE task group on welcoming congregations. Abingdon published the work of this task group. People of a Compassionate God: Creating Welcoming Congregations in 2003. Dr. Vogel wrote the introduction: "A guide to congregational change"; Chapter Five: "Transformative teaching and learning"; and Chapter Eight: "Claiming ministries of compassion and justice: being the body of Christ."
Dr. Vogel has also served on the Curriculum Resources Committee for The United Methodist Church. This is the committee that plans, reviews, and oversees the publication of curriculum for our denomination.
Dr. Vogel continues to be an active scholar and teacher. It was her commitment to social justice that led her and her husband, Dwight, to move to Pilgrim Place when they retired. Linda wrote, "Our decision to move to Pilgrim Place was a great surprise to us. This community reached out and drew us in with its deep commitment to social justice and its intentional Christian community. We moved in on Ash Wednesday, February 9, 2005 and hung our last picture on Easter Sunday afternoon. This proved to be the most strange and unique Lent of our lives!"
In retirement, Dr. Vogel agreed to run for election to the board of directors of the 1,000 member Christian Educator's Fellowship. She served as editor of the CEF publication, "Christians in Education," for a year and is now serving as President of the CEF board. She will continue on the board for four more years.
Dr. Vogel's commitment "to pay my rent on the planet" continues to draw her to work for ecological responsibility and peace with justice during a future that she describes as an "Ezra-Nehemiah time," when so much change in our world causes communities of faith and political institutions to "build the walls higher and throw out the foreign wives!" Dr. Vogel asserts, "Individualism and greed and attempts to isolate and marginalize the poor in our world can only lead to destruction and despair. As Christians, we must begin to work together with persons of all faiths and of no faith for the common good, which by its very nature must be for the good of the whole creation."
Those of us who have been colleagues, students, and friends of Dr. Vogel are grateful for her ongoing leadership as we continue to be blessed by her wisdom, insight, and passion for justice.
- Vogel, L. J., & Vogel, D. W. (2002). Syncopated grace: Times and seasons with God . Nashville: Upper Room Books.
- Vogel, L. J., & Vogel, D. W. (1999). Sacramental living: Falling stars and coloring outside the lines . Nashville: Upper Room Books.
- Vogel, L. J. (1996). Rituals for resurrection: Celebrating life and death . Nashville: Upper Room Books.
- Vogel, L. J. (1991). Teaching and learning in communities of faith: Empowering adults through religious education . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Vogel, L. J. (1988). Teaching older adults . Nashville: Discipleship Resources.
- Vogel, L. J. (1984). The religious education of older adults . Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1975). Helping a child understand death . Philadelphia: Fortress Press. [(1978). Ayudando al niÑo a comprender la muerte . Buenos Aires, Argentina: La Aurora.]
Chapters in Books
- Vogel, L. J. (2003) Introduction: A guide to congregational change; Chapter Five: Transformative teaching and learning; Chapter Eight: Claiming ministries of compassion and justice: Being the body of Christ. In J. F. Fishburn (Ed.), People of a compassionate God: Creating welcoming congregations (pp. 13-18, 83-104, 159-174). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (2000). Reckoning with the spiritual lives of adult educators. In L. M. English & M. A. Gillen (Eds.), Addressing the spiritual dimensions of adult learning: What educators can do (pp. 17-27). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Vogel, L. J. (1997). Dorothy Jean Furnish: Claiming teachable moments. In B. A. Keeley (Ed.), Faith of our foremothers (pp. 36-147). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1996). Reconciliation. In L. Isherwood & D. McEvwan (Eds.), An a to z of feminist theology (197b-198a). Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1995). Spiritual development in later life. In M. A. Kimble, S. H. McFadden, J. W. Eller & J. J. Seeber (Eds.), Aging, spirituality, and religion (Vol. 1, pp. 74-86). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1989). Aging. In I. V. Cully & K. B. Cully (Eds.), Harper's dictionary of religious education (pp. 24-26). New York: Harper and Row Publishers.
- Vogel, L. J. (1985). Working with older adults. In N. T. Foltz (Ed.), Handbook on adult religious education (pp. 105-123). Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1982). A symposium: Creative tension at play. In K. Stokes (Ed.). Faith development in the adult life cycle (pp. 275-289). New York: W. H. Sadler.
Articles by or about Linda J. Vogel
- Vogel, L. J. (2005, Spring). Growing faithful disciples interview. In Leader in Christian Education Ministries (pp. 8-26). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (2003). Doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with our God. Christians in Education . Retrieved from www.umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=15&mid=6488
- Vogel, L. J., & Vogel, D. W. (2000, Fall). Sacramental living: A distinctive spirituality. Liturgical Ministry , 9, 219-224.
- Vogel, L. J. (1996, October). Children are ministers, too! Circuit Rider , 4-5.
- Vogel, L. J. (1994, Spring). A vision for kingdom building with older adults. Liberal Religious Education , 12, 28-35.
- Vogel, L. J. (Fall 1992). Cultural pluralism and the teaching office: Where do we go from here? Quarterly Review , 12 (3), 65-69.
- Vogel, L. J. (1992, May). Called to teach in the household of God. Teacher in the Church School , 2-5.
- Vogel, L. J. (1991, Spring). Reclaiming family: New definitions for the '90s. Leader in the Church School Today , 5-8.
- Vogel, L. J. (1991). Establishing spiritual community in residential and long-term care settings. The Journal of Aging and Judaism , 5 (3), 167-176.
- Vogel, L. J. (1991). Two responses to 'diaconal ministry: vision and reality'. Quarterly Review: A Journal of Scholarly Reflection for Ministry , 11 (1), 37-40.
- Vogel, L. J. (1990, September-October). Teach these words to your children: Inclusivity in Christian education. Daughters of Sarah , 16, 10-11.
- Vogel, L. J. (1989, July-August). Sex-Role stereotyping hurts children. The Christian Ministry , 28-30.
- Vogel, L. J. (1989). Teaching and learning with older adults. Adult Bible Studies Teaching Helps , 5 (3) 8-9.
- Theodore, B. (1989, Fall). [Review of the book The Religious Education of Older Adults ]. Evangelical Journal , 7, 95-96.
- Vogel, L. J. (1986). Adult human development and teaching in the church. Adult Bible Studies Teaching Helps , 3 (1), 10-12.
- Vogel, L. J. (1986). New life in Jesus Christ. Adult Teacher , Graded Press, 1986.
- Harton, R. M. (1985, Winter). [Review of the book The religious education of older adults ]. Review and Expositor , 82, 166-167.
- Girzaitis, L. (1984, Fall). Review of The religious education of older adults . Religious Education , 79, 631-632.
- Vogel, L. J. (1983, Summer). How older adults perceive and legitimize their adult education participation in schools and churches. Religious Education , 78, 431-432.
Unpublished paper presented at a meeting
- Vogel, L. J. (2003, January 2-5). Creating rituals that speak to us and for us in the winter-time of life . Paper presented at the North American Academy of Religion, Indianapolis.
- Vogel, L. J. (1992-1993, Winter). Good news for all. Adult Bible Studies Teacher , 11-13. Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J., & Vogel, D. W. (1989). Teacher's guide: Sing, shout, and clap for joy (E. B. Poethig). New York: The Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries.
- Vogel, L. J. (1983). Intergenerational leader's guide for The Lord Is My Salvation (Prototype for research and testing). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1982). Making prayer real; I say to you… Older Elementary Guidebook , 7 (5). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1979). Praise ye the Lord. Exploring the Bible Teacher, Ages 5-8 , 4 (4). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1979). Praise ye the Lord. Exploring the Bible Children, Ages 5-8 , 4 (4). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1976). Using the Bible. Exploring the Bible Teacher , 1 (4), 2-11. Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1976). Using the Bible. Exploring the Bible Children, Ages 8-12 , 1 (4), 4-19. Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1976). Unit 1: Prayer. Older Elementary Guidebook , 1 (5), 2-34. Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1975). Early heroes of the faith. Exploring the Bible Teacher Ages 8-1 , 1 (1). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1975). Early heroes of the faith. Exploring the Bible Children Ages 8-12 , 1 (1). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1974-75). IV-VI The story the Bible tells - New Testament (Rev.ed.). The I-III and IV-VI Teacher , 2 (2), 34-63. Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1974-75). IV-VI The story the Bible tells. I-III and IV-VI Teacher , 2 (1), 34-61. Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1974). The story the Bible tells - Old Testament (Rev. ed.). The IV-VI Student , 5 (1). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1973). God's plan for growing and learning. I-III Student , 3 (1). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1972). Making the Bible my own. IV-VI Student , 2 (1) Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J., & Vogel, D. W. (1972). Making the Bible my own. IV-VI Teacher , 2 (1). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J., & Vogel, D. W. (1970). God's plan for growing and learning. The United Methodist Teacher I-III , 3 (1). Nashville: Graded Press.
- Vogel, L. J. (1970). God's plan for growing and learning. The United Methodist Student I-III , 3 (1). Nashville: Graded Press.
Book Reviews by Linda J. Vogel
- Vogel, L. J. (1996). [Review of the book Families and forgiveness: Healing words in the intergenerational family ]. Journal of Religious Gerontology , 10 (1), 72-73.
- Vogel, L. J. (1995). [Review of the book Wisdomkeepers: Meetings with Native American elders ]. Journal of Religious Gerontology , 9 (3), 69-70.
- Vogel, L. J. (1995) [Review of the book Mingled Roots: A guide for Jewish grandparents of interfaith grandchildren ]. Journal of Religious Gerontology , 9 (3), 71.
- Vogel, L. J. (1995). [Review of the book Grandparents are forever ]. Journal of Religious Gerontology , 9 (3), 71-72.
- Vogel, L. J. (1994). [Review of the book Journaling: A spirit journey ]. Journal of Religious Gerontology , 9 (1), 99-100.
- Vogel, L. J. (1992). [Review of the book And God created wrinkles ]. Journal of Religious Gerontology 8 (4), 117-119.
- Vogel, L. J. (1992). [Review of the book Aging with joy ]. Journal of Religious Gerontology , 8 (4), 119-120.
- Vogel, L. J. (1988, November-December). [Review of the book Approaching the Gospels together: A leader's guide for doing group Gospel study ]. Daughters of Sarah , 14, 34-35.
- Vogel, L. J. (2005). Dorothy Jean Furnish. In Christian educators of the 20th century . Biola University: Talbot School of Theology. Retrieved from www.biola.edu/ceacademic/furnishd.cfm
- Vogel, L. J. (2005). Dr. Nelle G. Slater. In Christian educators of the 20th century. Biola University: Talbot School of Theology. www.biola.edu/ceacademic/SlaterN_test.cfm#author
Excerpts from Publications
"Faculty Directory" on Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary web site. Retrieved from www.garrett.northwestern.edu/contentT.asp?C=1080&Sort=alph&Dir_ID=29
As an ordained deacon, I serve the church by teaching and learning with students as we seek ways of doing educational ministry that empower all Christians - ordained, consecrated, and lay - to be more whole and to be the body of Christ in the world. Together we become more skilled in choosing resources and creating environments and processes that help others sculpt meaning in life and walk more faithfully toward God's kingdom.
Vogel, L. J. (1991). Teaching and learning in communities of faith: Empowering adults through religious education . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, xv.
Whoever seeks to write a book on religious education faces the dilemma of balancing the desire to explore broad, all-inclusive questions of journeying in (any) faith against the need to own one's identity as a person of a particular faith. I am a Christian, a fact all those who accompany me through these pages should know. But I am also a person who recognizes that there are many paths to faith and that my path is not the only, or even the only Christian, path. I desire to learn from others even as I hope my experience may be useful to those whose faith journeys are different from mine. I have tried to draw on some other faith traditions and to provide an opportunity for those in other traditions to appropriate certain underlying principles and assumptions by filling them with their own faith-story content. It is my deep hope and my prayer that this book on adult religious education - written from the perspective I know best - will add to the dialogue about making and discovering meaning and about nourishing souls.
Vogel, L. J. (1996). Rituals for resurrection: celebrating life and death . Nashville: Upper Room Books, 25-26.
We know who we are - children of God loved and forgiven and called by God! And we know Whose we are - children of God who are called to be witnesses to God's love and care for all the world. We are therefore able to share in the festivity that grows out of our shared stories and visions. Our identity as God's beloved sons and daughters causes us to seek ways to celebrate and repeatedly affirm that we are who we are!
Vogel, Linda J. (2003) Introduction: A guide to congregational change; Chapter Five: Transformative teaching and learning; Chapter Eight: Claiming ministries of compassion and justice: Being the body of Christ. In J. F. Fishburn (Ed.), People of a compassionate God: Creating welcoming congregations , (pp. 13-18, 83-104, 159-174). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Beginning with case narratives of five United Methodist congregations that engaged in a process of study and discernment to decide whether or not they would publicly declare themselves to be "reconciling congregations" open to persons of all sexual orientations, the five joint authors of this book explore what strategies are effective and life-giving and what actions were not effective, or even destructive, as these congregations faced a difficult and potentially divisive issue. The book is meant to assist congregations in living faithfully into whatever difficult issues and decisions they may face.
Vogel, L. J. (2000) Reckoning with the spiritual lives of adult educators. In Le. M. English & M. A. Gillen (Eds.), Addressing the spiritual dimensions of adult learning: what educators can do , (pp. 17-27). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
This monograph focuses on all adult education (secular) and explores ways in which the spiritual dimensions of human life enter into adult teaching and learning. Dr. Vogel's chapter examines ways in which the teacher's own spirituality impacts his or her teaching in either positive or negative ways.
Vogel, L. J. (1996). Rituals for resurrection: Celebrating life and deat h. Nashville: Upper Room Books.
Focusing on her theme of building communities of faith, Dr. Vogel discusses how a community of faith can provide a ministry of caring to those who are grieving, particularly through rituals that are tied to stories of faith.
Vogel, L. J. (1991). Teaching and learning in communities of faith: Empowering adults through religious education . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
In a book that is carefully grounded in Scripture and in teaching and learning theory, Dr. Vogel proposes a variety of methods and models for religious education of adults.
Vogel, L. J. (1975). Helping a child understand death . Philadelphia: Fortress Press. [(1978). Ayudando al niño a comprender la muerte . Buenos Aires, Argentina: La Aurora.]
Written after the two and a half year dying process of her father when her own children were young, Dr. Vogel wrote the book she was looking for but could not find. She explores ways to journey with children so they may experience dying and death that as life-giving.
Sondra Higgins Matthaei
Sondra Higgins Matthaei received her Ph.D. in Theology and Personality with a focus in Religious Education from Claremont School of Theology in 1989. She serves as Professor of Christian Religious Education at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City Missouri.