Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Saratoga, Calif.
Engineer

I believe God created the universe and everything in it. I believe God gave us the power to think and discover, the desire to explore and create, and the empathy to see where there is need in the world. I believe God sent his son, Jesus, to earth for us, to save us, and for us to get a glimpse of how God wants us to act.

I think science and religion are interrelated because science tells us how things happen and through faith we try to understand why. Why did God create us and this beautiful planet we call home? The more I learn about science, whether it’s how stem cells can turn into beating heart cells or how many planets are orbiting other stars in our universe, the more I’m convinced that God is at the heart of creation. Not in six days but over billions of years. This, to me, is even more powerful.

I pray that as we develop more advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and genetic engineering that we, as a society, keep a strong moral compass to use these advances for good.

I started a group for moms of kids in college at my church because I wanted to create a community to share the journey of parenting at this critical stage. Many of us have been together for years as our kids have grown through Sunday school, confirmation, youth group and mission trips. Now our children are moving away and becoming independent. I wanted to share this journey with these incredibly faithful and fun women, who share the same values and core beliefs, so we could share our joys and burdens through this new stage of parenting.

I enjoy assisting with the youth programs at my church because the love and energy of our youth is palpable. They’re not afraid to question our faith; they see the good in people and the world around us; they are willing to serve others; they bring a new spirit to the conversation and the worship service—especially our youth band!

My favorite thing I’ve been part of in my more than 20 years with NASA is that I’ve been able to work on so many different missions. I’ve had the privilege to help develop hardware for the space shuttle and for missions to Mars, develop a flying astronomical observatory in a 747 airplane called SOFIA, build hardware to perform biological experiments on the International Space Station to study how living systems grow and develop without gravity and with extra radiation. These experimental results won’t only help astronauts live safely in space but can also help people on Earth who are in wheelchairs or undergoing radiation treatments. The work we do at NASA pushes the envelope and the spinoff technologies benefit us in unexpected ways here on Earth.

I think advancing understanding of the universe reveals the majesty and awesome creativity of our God. The more we learn, the more questions we have. Each new discovery reveals some new wonder and the complexity of our universe, and how little we really know.

I’m a Lutheran because I was born and raised as a Lutheran, and I’m so glad I was. The more I learn about being a Lutheran, the more right it feels for me. Lutherans value education both in church and community. As an engineer and as a Lutheran, I’m always learning and growing. How do we bring Jesus into our time and place? How do we create a world where all are given equal opportunities? How do we break down the walls that religions put up? It’s OK—in fact, it’s encouraged—that we ask questions. And to me, the single most important tenet of being a Lutheran is grace. We are all sinners and we are saved by grace.

I struggle when religion gets in the way of humanity coming together as one people, created by one God, living on one planet (at this time), sharing one set of precious resources. I don’t understand when one group thinks they have all the answers or are better than any other group. I believe Jesus would reach out to all people whether they are gay or straight, black or white, atheist or evangelist, male or female. I think we all want love and purpose in our lives, we all want to be needed, and we all want and deserve the love and respect of our fellow travelers on this journey on earth.

I share my faith by being kind and respectful, caring for others and serving others, whether at work or in my community. I share what our church is doing through different ministries and mission work. I try to provide witness to the power of God’s love in conversation with others.

People are surprised that I am a mechanical engineer who works for NASA. Yes, a real rocket scientist.

My favorite church memory is being in St. Peter Lutheran Church with my parents, siblings, cousins and grandparents in Reinerton, Pa. I cherish the memory of sitting with Nana and Pappy in their Sunday finest, gazing at the stained glass, hearing them sing hymns and being surrounded by family, knowing that my Pappy helped to physically build that very church in the early 1900s. It gives me a strong foundation on which to raise my own family, and to this day, I think of my grandparents when we sing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in my church.

I believe my vocation as an engineer allows me to be part of something greater than myself—to work together with others to create things that advance our understanding of the world in which we live.

A cause I’m fighting for is to inspire girls and minorities to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I had to break through barriers when I became an engineer more than 30 years ago, and I’m sad there are still barriers today. There should be no limits to what a person can do, and I believe the world would be a better place if there were more diversity in the technical workplace.


Sentence prompts are provided to each person featured. If you’d like to nominate someone for “I’m a Lutheran,” email megan.brandsrud@elca.org.

Megan Brandsrud
Brandsrud is an associate editor of Living Lutheran.

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