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Deanna was honored to give a talk on “Faith in a Traumatized World for Colloquium and Book Discussion at Brigham Young University in February of 2020. 




After twenty-three years of teaching religion at Hamline University, a wonderful liberal arts institution in St. Paul, Minnesota, I’ve been called back to my alma mater, St. Olaf College, to serve as the inaugural Director of the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community and the Martin E. Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Arts.

It’s with great excitement that I rejoin the St. Olaf community as it strives to embodied its Lutheran heritage in a way that is intentionally and enthusiastically interfaith as well as engaged with those of no faith. I’m thrilled and grateful to be able to embrace this new vocational direction and look forward to this new phase of life that is grounded and supported by all that’s come before.

Read the news from St. Olaf College

Deanna speaking at Emory University for their Reformation at 501 event last October.

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  • Deanna gave a chapel talk at St. Olaf in September 2019 on a new topic of research: “Beyond Deep Gladness: Coming to Terms with Vocations We Don’t Choose.” See more.
  • In March 2019, Deanna spoke at Roseville Lutheran (Virtual Body of Christ), at Mount Olivet (Truth Talk for Lent), at Gloria Dei (Luther’s Anti-Jewish Views).
  • In February 2019, Deanna spoke at Gloria Dei on Lament and Hope in Job and the Psalms, at Western Theological Seminary in Hope, Michigan, and at Roseville Lutheran (Glimpsing Resurrection, Part I and II).
  • In January 2019 Deanna spoke at Nokomis Heights Lutheran Church, Opportunity St. Paul with Interfaith Action, Christ Church Lutheran, and delivered the Humanities Lecture at 1666 Coffman (55+ community), Sustaining Hope in Tough Times.
  • Deanna discussed her new book, Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. September 2018.
  • Deanna launched her new book, Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma, and Ministry, in August 2018, at Hamline University.
  • In May 2018, Deanna received the John Wesley Trustee Award given by Hamline University’s Board of Trustees. This award is given to faculty who serve and lead in the spirit of the words of John Wesley (“Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can . . .) by demonstrating core values of high quality and vigorous academics, a commitment to making the world a better place, and an embodiment of ethics and civility.
  • Deanna led a two-week session on Faith and Living with Cancer at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka, MN, February, 2018.
  • Deanna preached on the Virtual Body of Christ on Transfiguration Sunday at Lake Park Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, February,  2018.
  • Deanna led a two-day retreat for the Theology and Philosophy Faculty of Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, on Teaching, Virtuality, Trauma, and Race, February 9-10, 2018.
  • “Amid this Season, Sorrow,” was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Christmas Day, 2017. Read the story here.
  • Deanna was one of the speakers at the Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast, November 21, 2017.
  • Deanna was interviewed in Bearings Online, October 2017, in the article titled “Christ of the Facebook Page.” Read the interview here.
  • Deanna was the 2017 speaker for the Perry Gresham Lectures hosted by Central Woodward Christian Church and Christian Theological Seminary (Indiana, IN), where she held workshops on “Being the Church in the Digital Age,” and “The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World,” as well as preach a sermon on “Reformation at 500 and Beyond.” Nov, 2017.
  • The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World was reviewed in the National Catholic Reporter, in a feature titled “Virtual Connectivity Helps Us Attend to Life’s Pain,” October 2017. Read the review here. The National Catholic Reporter also featured Deanna in a podcast interview, “Deepening spirituality through yoga and the internet.” Listen to podcast here.
  • Deanna will be delivering the keynote address entitled, “The Viral Reformer and the Virtual Body of Christ: Learning from (and moving beyond) Luther in the Digital Age“ at the Reformation Festival at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, October 27.
  • Deanna will be delivering a keynote address on Commemorating the Reformation at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, October 19. This is part of their “Always Reforming: Nourished by the Past, Shaping the Future” series.
  • Deanna will be keynoting the 15th Biennial DELKINA (Deutsche Evagelish-Lutherische Konferenz in Nordamerika) Conference in Toronto, October 14, 2017.
  • Deanna will be keynoted the John Albert Hall Lectures at the University of Victoria, B.C., in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, September 28, 2017.
  • Deanna spoke at the June gathering of Comfort Care, a faith-based breast cancer support group, on “Cancer, Trauma, and Hope,” June 26, 2017, Edina, MN
  • Deanna delivered her paper, “Commemorating Luther in the Age of Trump: A Feminist Populist Proposal” to the “Luther and Women” Section of the 13th Annual Luther Kongress, Wittenberg, Germany, August 4, 2017
  • Deanna spoke on “Luther in an Age of Trump: A Feminist Proposal” at the Contemporary Perspectives on Luther Conference, August 18-19, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.
  • Deanna was interviewed by a podcast called Coffeepot Fellowship about faith and cancer and virtual support. Read more and listen to the podcast here.
  • Deanna facilitated a Session on “Virtual Spiritual Formation” for Wartburg Seminary’s Fall Faculty Retreat, August 21, 2017.

  • Deanna, along with Beverly Wallace and Karis Thompson, spoke on “Enfleshing Freedom in the Virtual Public Square: Activism, Hope, and the Body of Christ” at the Embodied Freedom Conference at Augsburg College on June 4

  • The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World was featured on Syndicate, a forum for scholars interested in not merely reviewing new work in the humanities, but engaging it in substantive and diaological ways.
  • Deanna is featured in John Noltner’s photographer/author’s new book, A Peace of My Mind: American Stories. The book features 58 people from diverse backgrounds share stories of hope, redemption, and forgiveness, paired with compelling color portraits in this 144-page, full color book with a foreword by Terri Lee Freeman, president of the National Civil Rights Museum. More information.  

  • Deanna put on a day-long symposium Monday, March 6th, 2017, viaHamline University’s Wesley Center. This year’s theme was “Healing, Wholeness, Holiness: Religious Responses to Trauma and Illness” and addressed the issues that Deanna is dealing with in her current book project: Glimpsing Resurrection: A Post-Traumatic Theology of Cancer.

  • Deanna was the featured speaker at the Mount Olivet Lutheran Church’s Women’s Retreat “Women’s Weekend 2017: Re-Formed By Grace.” January 27 – 29, 2017.  

  • Deanna will be presented on ‘Martin Luther and the Ambiguity of Reform’ at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts on December 1.  

  • Deanna launched her new book, The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World, on November 6 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

  • Deanna’s new book, The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World, was featured in an online symposium for the humanities.

  • Deanna is one of the 2016-2017 recipients of a $40,000 Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant. Her project is entitled, “Glimpsing Resurrection: A Post-Traumatic Theology of Cancer.” 
  • Deanna and her family and were featured on local public television affiliate’s (TPT) companion piece to “The Emperor of All Maladies,” the new Ken Burns documentary on the history of cancer based on the book of the same name. The TPT feature is called Living Beyond Cancer,” looking at five local people who live with–and sometimes beyond–cancer. It first aired Monday, March 30, evening after the Ken Burns documentary. Watch the entire video here (Deanna’s part starts at 33:40).   
  • Deanna will be participated in a Collegeville Institute Writing Seminar in July 2016 with Lauren Winner, entitled, “Christian Spirituality and the Writing Life.”    
  • Deanna was the keynote speaker at the Academy of Parish Clergy annual conference, February 23 – 25, 2016, in Oviedo, Florida. She delivered talks on: Deuteronomy: Why Clergy Should Care About the World’s Most Underrated Book; Wisdom from Hoping For More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace; and Feminist Theology.  
  • Deanna was one of the featured speakers at a Leadership Summit at Hope Lutheran Church in West Des Moines, Iowa, October 22-23, 2015. Deanna will be spoke on the topic of her next book, The Virtual Body of Christ as well as leading a workshop on “Sustaining Hope in the Toughest of Times.”  More information.
  • Deanna’s review of J. Todd Billings’ book, Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ appeared in the September issue of The Christian Century. Read the review here. 
  • Deanna spoke in May 2015 at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in St. Paul on “Sustaining Hope in the Toughest of Times” as part of their “Hope and Loss: The Art of Dying in the Christian Tradition.”  
  • Deanna wrote an article on “Living with Dying” in the March 2015 issue of Gather, a magazine of Women in the ELCA. Read the article here.
  • Deanna spoke again to patients, medical and support staff at Lake Regions Healthcare Cancer Care Center in Fergus Falls February 24-25 on “Sustaining Hope in the Toughest of Times.”  
  • Deanna spoke at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, on “Talking Faith in the Toughest of Times: Right Words, Wrong Words, Words of Hope.” More information here.  
  • Deanna preached at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, where a classmate from Vanderbilt, the Rev. Dr. Buran Phillips, is pastor. Read the sermon here.
  • Deanna wrote a blog post about her dear friend and colleague, Tim, on The Christian Century website. About Tim: “He hired me at Hamline and has been an incredible mentor and friend to me. He now has Alzheimer’s, and this post is a tribute to his scholarship, friendship, and faith.”  Read the full post here.  
  • Deanna was featured at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, TN, Sanctuary Speaker Series: “Talking Faith in the Toughest of Times”; Preaching on “Hoping for More” at worship; and speaking at an Intergenerational Forum, “Being the Church in the Digital Age.”   
  • An expanded version of an earlier blog post of mine was just published with a Duke University Publication on Faith and Leadership. It’s about negotiating the effects of trauma in a post-diagnosis life. Read the post here.  
  • Deanna spoke on Hoping for More at the Ames Center in Burnsville, MN, M.O.M.S. 4th Annual Fall Brunch. 
  • Deanna spoke in Winnipeg, Canada, to new pastors in the Western Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada on “Being the Virtual Body of Christ in a Digital Age.” October 16, 2014.
  • Deanna was the keynote speaker at Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa’s Wright Lectureship in Christian Thought. October 9, 2014.
  • Deanna was part of a terrific line up of speakers at the “Rethinking Faith Formation: Christian Identity and Practice in a Pluralistic World” conference at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, July 23-25, where she talked about the vital role of the virtual body of Christ in faith formation today.
  • “The Fault in Our Stars” touches many relevant nerves in our family. Deanna’s daughter Linnea offers a review of the movie from the teenager’s perspective, thinking about what the movie and its message might have to say to religious communities in particular. Read “The Fault in Our Religion” here.
  • Deanna has a piece on Huffington Post on the possibility of virtual communities forming in religiously significant ways around those living in the midst of the awfulness. The publication coincided with her presentation at Boston University on “Ecclesiology beyond the Institutional Church: the Virtual Embrace of the Traumatized” for students in a new chaplaincy track in the School of Theology and for a group of scholars who, under the leadership of BU Professor Shelly Rambo, are working on a new book on “Post-Traumatic Public Theology.”  Read “Embraced by the Virtual Body of Christ” on Huffington Post.  
  • Hoping for More has been listed as “worthwhile Minnesota-connected books,” according to the website TwinCities.com, described as “enlightening to read” and “gracefully written.”  
  • Deanna will be spoke at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley during their Adult Forum, 9:45-10:45 am, on issues related to “Hoping for More,” and building off of the blog posts I’ve written this winter. Join Deanna as she explores what it means to live in close proximity to the awfulness of life and still have hope.   
  • A new article published by Deanna Thompson called “Confessing the Faith in the Toughest of Times” (pp.19-21) appears in the Fall edition of INSIGHTS: A Faculty Journal of Austin Seminary.  
  • Hoping for More has been listed as the #3 bestseller for Cascade Books, ranked in the October 2013 “Fall Books” issue of Christian Century magazine.  
  • Deanna was the keynote speaker at the Lake Superior Conference of Women of the Evangelical Church in America, at French River Lutheran Church north of Duluth.  
  • A video was created for Hope Lutheran Church in West Des Moines by videographer Ryan Buck to tell the story of “Hoping for More.” It was initially created for a summer 2013 sermon series called “Since You Asked” for a sermon on “What do you do when a Friend Has Cancer?” The video is in four segments and closely follows the book. See video here.
  • Deanna Thompson’s father, Pastor Merv Thompson, preached a sermon about what to do when a loved one has cancer last weekend at Hope Lutheran in West Des Moines, IA. The sermon is half him preaching and half a video of my story of “Hoping for More.” The preacher was preaching that day, and the videographer also captured well the grace amid the sorrow of living with a stage IV cancer diagnosis. To view the video, visit the hopeonline tv site, click on “Since you Asked” and go to the July 7 sermon.  
  • Deanna was part of a day-long consulting session of scientists and theologians with the authors of the forthcoming text: CHANCE, NECESSITY, LOVE: AN EVOLUTIONARY THEOLOGY OF CANCER by Steve James and Leonard Hummel. The authors draw upon HOPING FOR MORE as a significant resource for their theological reflections.  
  • Deanna Thompson was the featured speaker for several events at the Lake Region Cancer Care and Research Center in Fergus Falls, Minnesota in May, delivering an address at a dinner for medical professionals on the topic, “What do Patients Really Need from their Medical Professionals?” The address will be followed by a response from oncologist Dr. Margaret Barnes. Thompson also spoke at a lunch for patients as well as a breakfast for clergy and other religious leaders in the Fergus Fall area.  
  • Deanna recently published an article in the fall 2012 edition of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics, entitled, “Virtually There: Martin Marty, Cyberspace, and Cultures of Trust in the 21st Century.”  Read the article here.  
  • St. Paul neighborhood newspaper, The Highland Villager, featured a story on Hoping for More and interview with Deanna in their October 24 – November 6, 2012, issue. See the story.  
  • The November 2012 edition of “The Lutheran” magazine features an excerpt “Having Cancer, Talking Cancer.”   
  • Hoping for More excerpted in the October 2012 issue of Minnesota Women’s Press  
  • Listen to Deanna talk with Martha Manikas-Fowler in the “Inside Out” segment, Family Life Radio  
  • Hoping for More was mentioned in “Winning is Always an Olympic Feat,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch   
  • Hoping for More was excerpted on Her.meneutics, the Christianity Today Blog for Women   
  • Hoping for More was referenced in a daily devotional from United Church of Christ  
  • Read a new entry by Deanna at Amplifier hub, the new social networking blog at CaringBridge  
  • Three excerpts from Hoping for More are on WorkingPreacher.org  
  • An excerpt from Hoping for More appears on the Christian Century’s site  
  • Read an excerpt from Hoping for More at Beliefnet.com   
  • Read Deanna’s story on the Faith & Leadership site

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