Staff & Leadership
Josh Graber, ALT Developerhas been developing a plan to create communities like this since his senior year of high school. In the past few years, as an ELCA pastor, the plan has moved into a reality.
Josh was born near the Holden Village Retreat Center in Washington State where his parents led a similar program for young adults called Christian Lifestyle Enrichment. He was raised in a small village in Wisconsin along the Mississippi River, but grew up around alumni of his parents’ program at Holden. Seeing how much the participants of his parents' program valued that experience influenced his desire to be shaped by a similar environment, as well as to create similar experiences for others. As a young adult, he participated and visited many similar programs and ministries in the United States, Europe, and Africa. The combination of Josh’s personal background and his travel to other intentional community environments all have influenced the ALT Year model.
Josh graduated from Trinity Lutheran College in Seattle in 2001 and graduated from Luther Seminary in 2008. His pastoral internship was at The Lutheran Church of Honolulu, where he began a cooperative youth ministry for ELCA Youth on the island of Oahu. His first call was to Trinity Lutheran in Moorhead, Minnesota, serving as an associate pastor as part of the Fund for Theological Education’s Transition into Ministry Program, funded by the Lilly Endowment. His primary focus was young adult ministry and global mission.
Toward the end of his first call he created a formal proposal for ALT Year, using the working title Living-Learning Communities, and received enough positive feedback and initial interest to inspire him to save up his remaining salary and travel around the country to explore the potential of a new ministry. In October of 2011, this exploration led to a call as a mission developer to create ALT Year and work with potential ALT sites. Josh currently serves ALT as Mission Developer and Toledo Site Director, with his call coming from the Northwestern Synod of Ohio.
National TeamThe ALT Year Leadership Team meets quarterly to share reports and gather input and advice for the ministry. The Leadership Team also functions as smaller teams that address specific work areas and issues of the ministry.
ALT Year Leadership Team Members:
- Dick Bruesehoff, ELCA Pastor and Outreach Coordinator at Portico Benefit Services - St. Paul, Minnesota
- Mark Burkhardt, Director of Congregational and Synodical Mission - ELCA, Chicago
- Michelle Collins, ELCA Deaconess, Advent Lutheran - Melbourne, Florida
- Ruben Duran: Director for Development of New Congregations (ELCA)
- David Ellingson, Professor of Children, Youth and Family at Trinity Lutheran College - Everett, Washington (Former Director of Evergreen Youth Television)
- Mary Frances, Assistant Director for Development of New Congregations - ELCA, Chicago
- Joshua Graber, ALT Year Mission Developer & Director for ALT Year Toledo
- Doug Haugen, Director of Lutheran Men in Mission
- Don Johnson, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (Former Director of Camp Calumet and Project Connect)
- Salim Kaderbhai, ELCA Pastor - Minnesota
- Alisha Nelson, ALT Year Alumni
- Joshua Rinas, ELCA Pastor - New Haven, Connecticut
- Bill Russell, Pastor and Professor - Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Dave Scherer, Known throughout the ELCA as "Agape," a hip-hop musician and minister
- Jane Shields, Director of Evangelical Mission - New England Synod of the ELCA
- Gordon Straw, Director of Lay Schools for Ministry, ELCA
Former Leadership Team Members and Other Supporters:
- Susan Engh, Director, Synodical Partners in Mission and Congregation Based Community Organizing (ELCA)
- Heidi Torgerson-Martinez, Director of Young Adults in Global Mission for the ELCA
- Rozella White, Program Director of Young Adult Ministry for the ELCA
- Kathryn Lohre, Executive for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (Former General Secretary and President of the National Council of Churches)
ORGANIZATIONS AND MINISTRIES THAT ARE LIKE EXTENDED FAMILY TO ALT YEAR
Check out these LIFE in Service Partners (LIFE stands for “Lutheran Immersion and Formation Events”)Lutheran Volunteer Corps
Urban Servant Corps
Border Servant Corps
Young Adults in Global Mission
OTHER PARTNERSHolden Village Retreat Center
Trinity Lutheran College
The Oregon Extension
L’Abri Fellowship International
ALT Year is not just a ministry we are doing for young adults, the young adults that are a part of ALT Year are emerging leaders in both church and society. Their ALT Year experience prepares them for adaptive leadership in a changing culture. ALT Year sees them as the real leaders of the ALT Movement and encourages and empowers them to advance its mission. Listen to what these ALTers said about their experience:
- This year has given me time to rediscover my gifts, passions, and beliefs through volunteer work, bible study, and mentorships.
- It’s a chance for you to step back from the way you’ve been living your life, to really see where you want to be going in life, as well as where God’s hand is in it.
- I’ve learned the importance of “putting myself out there” into community groups and organizations. It’s given me new insights and confidence in becoming more involved in my community.
- ALT has gotten me out of my comfort zone to try new things.
- Abundant Life Together has helped me try and figure out who I am as a person, as a believer, and what to do with my life.
- ALT has helped me embrace new people with love and compassion.
- It’s a time for you to recognize the beauty that exists in a community through the people that you interact with and also through the work that you engage in
- It’s important for the church to do something like ALT Year because it’s a chance to hammer out your own religious identity and spiritual practices that work for you.
- ALT has caused me to think of what I consume and to make choices that are not only more sustainable for the environment but for those who produce the things I consume.
- Especially if you been in school from kindergarten to high school to college, you lose a piece of yourself when you don’t do self-care and take time for you and your passions.
- ALT has helped me become a stronger, more independent, and motivated individual who strives to serve the Lord through loving and serving others.
- It’s a great opportunity to be able step back and cultivate and recognize who you are in this world.
- Coming out of ALT Year I will be in a place where I will be thriving no matter what I do.
For more information about ALT Year – publicity material, how to support, how to participate, what’s happening – please contact:
Interested in getting involved at one of the existing pilot sites?
We want you to be a participant in Abundant Life Together and help us share ALT in your communities and networks.
- Will you live out and share the Core Values of ALT in Your Community?
- Young Adults: we value the strengths, energy, and questions young adults (age 18-25) bring to God’s ongoing activity in the world.
- Cultivating Faith: we are inspired by the joys and challenges of a relationship with Jesus that leads us into an adventure of faith given through the gift of the gospel.
- Courageous Experimentation: we promote creativity, curiosity, critical reflection, and proactive initiative as a way of living out discipleship at the intersection of church and culture.
- Abundant Community: we value the wisdom and gifts discovered through relationships and collaboration between the host communities, ALT participants, and local congregations, bringing people together of different generations, cultures, and life-experiences.
- Vital Partnerships: we value the community and mutuality that forms when trust and respect permeate our relationships with each other and with the local and larger church, allowing for growth, learning, and transformation.
- Will you identify and invite young adults you know to be a part of an ALT Year Community?
Guide to Inviting Young Adults to ALT Year (PDF)
Guide to Inviting Young Adults to ALT Year (Word)
- Will you pray for ALT Year and consider
- to keep this movement going (and growing!) [
- "If you invest your time and energy in any of these ways, then you are a ALT leader and an ambassador in the ALT Movement! Thank you!"