About Pastor Haugen

Pastor Haugen wearing a suit and clerical collar, looking directly at the camera

I am the pastor of Underwood Lutheran Parish in Underwood, North Dakota.  Underwood Parish has two congregations, Augustana Lutheran Church and Birka Lutheran Church.

Originally from Oregon, I received a BA in History from Luther College and a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  My parents are portrait photographers who shared with me and my two brothers their love of God, of music, of art, and of science fiction.  I enjoy singing and playing the oboe, and reading.  My favorite SF&F author is Lois McMaster Bujold.  My favorite oboe piece is the Cimarosa Concerto and my favorite pop singer is Janelle Monae.

I believe that the grace of God comes in unexpected places and times, and that most of the time we don’t see it because we’re not looking for it.  God gives life, and gives it abundantly, and we get so wrapped up in our own pettiness and fear and desire and don’t even see it.  No one deserves God’s love; we’re all sinners who fall short of the life God calls us to, and yet God loves us anyway, unconditionally, no matter how many times we screw up, no matter how many times we completely miss the point, whether we believe we’re worthy or not.

I am autistic, and do sometimes give talks about autism.  Please contact me if you are interested.  I’ve written about autism for Gather Magazine.  If you’re interested in autism, here are some resources to get you started.

18 thoughts on “About Pastor Haugen

    • Good question! ELCA Lutherans don’t really care what type of collar you wear, for the most part, beyond personal preference. At least, I’ve never seen it. (I mean, I know there are Anglican collars and Roman collars and probably other types as well, but I couldn’t tell you what the difference was if my life depended on it. If it was a big deal in my denomination, surely someone would have mentioned it in all the debates we had in seminary about when was appropriate to wear a collar and when it was not.) I’ve had pastors who wore full collars and pastors who wore tab collars, and many who wore both. It’s a matter of personal preference, from what I can tell. I wear both, though I am much more likely to wear the tab collars with suits and the full collars with dresses/nice skirts, simply because of the different fabrics they are made of. With the exception of my “janies” (clerical collar dickies for women, to be worn under nice blouses to give us a bit of fashion flexibility), all of my clerical shirts were purchased from Augsburg Fortress, the Lutheran publishing house and church supply company. So, while the style may be Roman, the manufacture is Lutheran. 😉

      As to why I wear a collar when I am not ordained, the ELCA gives interns/vicars permission to wear the collar for ministerial purposes, as this is part of our training for becoming an ordained minister.

      Does that answer your question?

      • Dear Vicar Anne,
        Yes, Great answer to a superficial question, but it was the first question that popped into my head when I saw your profile photo.

        I think the collar adds to your devotion of purpose. I also enjoy your website espesially the title.

    • After googling “Roman collar” the question becomes clearer. By “Roman collar” do you mean a full collar that goes all the way around the neck, but where only the front little bit is seen because the rest is hidden/mostly hidden behind the black collar of the shirt? That seems to be the type most often called a Roman collar. If that’s you’re question, that’s not what I’m wearing; that is a tab collar, where the “collar” is in reality a plastic tab that fits into the front of the shirt’s collar.

      Or do you mean to ask why am I wearing a collar at all, because you associate them with Roman Catholic clergy? As it happens, the modern form of the clerical collar was invented by Protestants (in this case, Presbyterians) in the 19th Century, and only spread to Catholic priests after they stopped wearing cassocks in the 1960s. But since there are so many Catholic priests out there, and if you see a Protestant pastor in a TV show or movie they are rarely from denominations (Anglicans, Lutherans, etc.) that commonly wear clerical shirts, the whole idea of clergy collars in pop culture is mostly associated with Roman Catholic priests.

      Lutheran pastors virtually always wear some form of a clerical collar for worship services and the like, and usually also for things like hospital visits. Some wear collars whenever they’re working , while others only wear them Sundays, and most are somewhere in between.

      • Dear Vicar,

        Thank you for your replies. I meant Roman, because I thought protestant ministers wore a different style usually in a grey tone.

        • I suppose it would depend on what denomination they are from and where they live. From what I have seen, Roman Catholics only wear black–unless they are bishops, in which case they wear purple–while protestants wear mostly black but also lots of other colors although purple is technically reserved for bishops. I have black clerical shirts in various styles, a deep blue clerical, a white clerical, a moss green clerical, a baby blue clerical, a burgundy clerical, plus the janies I mentioned earlier that I can wear with a variety of blouses and dresses.

          There are grey clericals, and some of them look very nice, but most of the pastors I know who have grey clericals, the shirts did not start life as grey–they are black shirts that have faded through years of being worn and washed. The problem with that is that our society judges people strongly based on appearance, and does not tend to listen to people who are not well put together. We as Christians have a hard enough time getting the message out and connecting with people these days, there is no need to self-sabotage by looking like a slob or like we think it is still 1980.

          Anyway. I have undoubtedly given you a lot more information than you wanted or needed, and you probably do not need my rant on how we need to control our image if we dont want other people to do it for us.

          I am glad my blog has been helpful to you!

          • I only just discovered your blog and am enjoying it. I have 2 questions. The first is about the above conversation but a little different. Why do you choose to wear the collar and set yourself apart visually in that way? I don’t think any of my past pastors have worn them. I’m merely curious, I am not in any way saying you should not wear it, just seeking insight.

            My second question is does your church have a website? I googled for it and can’t find it. I was looking because I was wanting to see if your church puts the sermons online to listen to as some do. I’d be interested to hear yours.

            • Different Christian groups have different traditions about what church leaders should wear. With American Lutherans, it varies by where you are from in America. Growing up in my home congregation, the only time I ever saw one of our pastors without a collar on was during service projects (helping in the community, for example building a ramp for a disabled or elderly person) or during church league ball games (where each church in the area had a baseball team of members who would play games against one another). On the other hand, in North Dakota where I currently serve, Lutheran pastors rarely wear collars except for Sunday morning worship.

              Personally, I wear a collar for many reasons. Sometimes it’s good to be set apart visually; I would never go into a hospital for a visit without my collar on, so that staff know who I am and what I’m doing there, and also so that other patients/family members who need to talk to a pastor can find me easily. People I’ve never met before do, on occasion, come up to me with a spiritual question or a need for prayer or comfort, particularly in trying times such as when a loved one is sick or dying. They don’t know me from Adam, but they see the collar and know what they need to. In addition, while no pastor is automatically a “better Christian” than anyone else simply by virtue of being a pastor, I do have a Master of Divinity. I have specialized training in the Bible, Christian history, pastoral care, theology, any number of subjects, and my job is to pass that on to those around me and help them learn and grow in their faith. My job is also to lead and guide the people of the church I have been called to. People are sometimes more willing to listen and learn if I’m “in uniform,” particularly if they don’t already know me. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m a young woman, and look younger than I am; I don’t look like a “leader” the way our society defines it. Dressing the part–wearing the “uniform” of the collar–helps with that more than you’d think. Visuals are particularly necessary online; while I’m pretty sure most of the people who read this blog already know me, there are people like yourself who read it who don’t. Wearing a collar for the picture says several things, and helps establish who I am. (An ordained minister, from a liturgically conservative mainstream church, formally trained, etc.) I wear collars on Sunday and for hospital visits and teaching classes and church events, but on “ordinary” days in the office I generally don’t.

              We are in the process of having a website developed, and do not record sermons, unfortunately. I would love to, but I don’t even know what equipment we would need. The church I worked at last year recorded sermons, and I got a few of them posted to this blog; if you go back through the archives you might be able to find and download them.

  1. Dear Vicar Anna,
    Thank You for your reply. My question was in ignorance only and not a comment on style. I look forward to your book on the history of the Bible, I,m sure it has been a labor of love. I am currently re reading “The history of God” by Karen Armstrong. have you read it?

    • I haven’t read Karen Armstrong’s book. Nor am I writing one myself! My timeline of the history of the Bible is only about 19 pages long, not anywhere near that ambitious. It is a little more than just a history of the Bible–it also mentions important people in Christian history, and the development of Christian theology–but it is also only a timeline, an outline of what happened and when. It was designed as a starting place, for a Bible study I taught a year ago. It is an overview, combining a lot of things I learned in different classes in seminary and from different books, but never found together at one time.

      An interesting book on the Bible and how we read it that I really recommend is Whose Bible Is It? by Jaroslav Pelikan.

  2. Vicar Anna,

    So nice to see you again. Didn’t know you had a blog going, very nice and that is a very nice photo of you.

    Bob Parks
    Formerly of St Lukes, now in Gresham Or.

  3. When can you start to wear the collar? I’ve had Lutheran clergy tell me different times. I have two years of college left and then off to seminary at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Grttysburg. I was told by one pastor I may wear the collar for hospital visits since I am discerning a call and providing a home communion to those who cannot attend. Another aaid not till seninary. The third saod not until CPE. Which is true? Please let me know, I don’t want to get into any trouble but I feel the collar is a way for me to identify myself so ican fully give myself to those in need.

    Blessings +

    • There isn’t any one right answer. As you have found, everyone has different answers, and there are perennial arguments among Lutherans. HOWEVER. I am shocked that you were told to wear a collar before even coming to seminary–before even formally entering the Candidacy process. It is kind of false advertising. You might, hopefully, in a couple of years, get formal training. But you are currently a layperson with no more training than the thousands of other laypeople who bring communion to shut-ins. Your synod has not yet given you their stamp of approval as someone they believe is called to ministry. You have no training or experience. It does identify you, but the problem is that it identifies you as something that you *aren’t*, yet. And if you need the outward status symbol to get in the groove and minister to people … that may be a sign that you’re not ready for it, yet.

      I sympathize, I really do. But I would say not until you start seminary.

      • Thank you so much for the words of wisdom. I agree with you. Now is not the time… I don’t feel I need that as a physical sign to show pastoral care but sadly, some people will only listen to someone wearing a collar. It’s a lot easier to show up wearing the collar and say you need to see John Doe in room 10 than to explain that you’re with some church and a layperson in training to become a pastor, etc. they tend not to question the authority of the collar. That being said, I’m not yet ready to have that authority. I am all about following procedures an letting things run their course so I am very prepared for the road ahead but I will proceed with small steps and with much prayer. Thanks again for all your help, I’d love to chat about your time a Gettysburg. Please keep in touch.
        Blessings +

  4. Hello Anna! We are getting so excited for your arrival. Lots of things are happening. The parsonage is getting a “spring” cleaning. We are working on getting a website set up, which I’m sure you will love helping us out with. Getting your office moved, and Roxie has fun news for you about your office. I can hardly wait to meet you in person. Drive carefully, we will see you soon. Beth Utecht, Augustana Council President.

  5. I,am very happy to see all your nice and spritual work for our lord Jesus,Basically i,m new christan before i was bhudist, now i,m very happy for my new life, therefore i and my familey wish you lot of gretting and advice us more about holly sprits and kindly offer a pryear for my familey thank you yours Sincerly Sonam and familey From Sikkim Himalaya India

    • Thank you for your kind words, and it’s exciting to know that my own efforts can help people even across the globe. I hope that you have a good community of faith to nurture you in the Word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and support you through all of life’s challenges. May God be with you,

      Pastor Anna Haugen

  6. Dear Pastor Anna,

    I am interested in finding out if you know of any way to get in touch with someone with experience in both autism and the church in my area, near Winston-Salem, NC. I’m making plans for our second annual Open Hearts, Open Doors, conference about accessibility in the faith community, and autism is one of our foci.

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