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Dr Stephen Pietsch

BTh MMin PhD

Lecturer in Pastoral Theology (specialising in counselling studies), Director of Formation

Stephen teaches in pastoral care, preaching, worship and the Lutheran Confessions.

Research areas: Reformation History, Luther studies, Pastoral Theology, the interface of theology and psychology
Location ALC North Adelaide


Born at Millicent in the South-East of South Australia, Stephen grew up there and later at Stirling in the Adelaide Hills. After attending Concordia College in Adelaide he immediately came to Luther Seminary in 1982 to study for the pastoral ministry.

After graduating in 1988 he served parishes in New South Wales and Victoria, commencing his work as a lecturer at ALC in July 2008, at the same time beginning doctoral studies at the Adelaide College of Divinity, which he completed at Flinders University, in 2014. He is married to Coralie and has two adult children, Bethany and Oliver.

Special interests

  • Professional: pastoral care, spirituality and Luther
  • Personal: gardening, cooking, reading, and music

Teaching areas

  • Big Questions: School Worship
  • Chaplaincy: Spiritual Care in Public Places
  • Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counselling
  • Liturgics
  • Lutheran Confessions
  • Pastoral Care and Counselling
  • Preaching the Sermon
  • Preaching the Word 1
  • Ministry Placement: Writing and Preaching a Sermon

Research supervision

Eligible to supervise at Masters and PhD level as associate supervisor.

Current areas of research supervision: pastoral and psychological dynamics in congregational life, Christian counselling models, late Reformation hymnody 

Research areas: Reformation History, Luther studies, pastoral care, the interface of theology and psychology

Community engagement

  • Chair of LCA Commission on Theology and Inter-church Relations

Qualifications in detail

  • Bachelor of Theology (Luther Seminary, Adelaide, 1986)
  • Master of Ministry (Adelaide College of Divinity, 2012)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Flinders University, Adelaide, 2014)
    • Winner of the Flinders University Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence, 2014
  • Graduated Luther Seminary, 1988
  • Ordained 4 December 1988, Bethlehem, Adelaide

Papers and Publications



(with Jeffrey Silcock and Stephen Hultgren) ed., Luther@500 and beyond: Martin Luther’s theology, past, present and future. Adelaide: ATF Press.


Of good comfort: Martin Luther’s letters to the depressed and their significance for pastoral care today. Adelaide: ATF Press.



‘On weariness of life: Luther’s letter to Jonas von Stockhausen as pastoral care for the suicidal’, in Luther@500 and beyond (ed. Jeffrey Silcock, Stephen Pietsch and Stephen Hultgren). Adelaide: ATF Press, 105–124.


‘Luther’s theology of suffering and pastoral care.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 51, no. 2 (Aug): 98–107.


‘Exploring “Transformation” in Luther Studies.’ Lutheran Forum 49, no. 1 (Spring): 27–32.


‘Of good comfort: analysing and reflecting on Martin Luther’s pastoral letters to the depressed and their significance for pastoral care today.’ PhD thesis, Flinders University (May).

‘Dangerous political propaganda or passionate prophetic speech? An alternative reading of Luther’s 1520 treatise, To the Christian nobility of the German nation concerning the reform of the Christian estate.Lutheran Theological Journal 48, no. 2 (Aug): 64–75.

‘Sure comfort: Luther on depression.’ Logia XXIII, no. 1 (Epiphany): 37–44.

Ego etiam sum doctor scripturae: an historical and contemporary reflection on Luther’s life and work as “doctor of holy scripture”.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 48, no. 3 (Dec): 145–159.


‘Luther’s “Rhetoric of the heart” for Lutheran preaching.’ Lutheran Forum 42, no. 3 (Fall): 26–41.


‘A contemporary reflection on Martin Luther’s understanding of and approach to depressive illness in his Table Talk.’ Master’s thesis, Adelaide College of Divinity.

‘The dark night of the soul—depression by another name?’ Research forum paper, unpublished.

‘Luther comforts a depressed pastor: Luther’s letter of consolation to George Spalatin—analysis and reflection.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 45, no. 3 (Dec): 144–155.


‘Depression and the soul—a Cook’s tour.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 44, no. 2 (Aug): 56–76.


‘Seelsorge: a living tradition in pastoral theology practice.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 43, no. 1 (May): 49–62.



‘Luther and the Cure of Souls’; ‘The Gospel as External Word and Personal Experience’; ‘Luther’s Counsel to a depressed young man: his 1534 letters to Prince Joachim of Anhalt’. Three lectures delivered at the Lutheran Study Days, Bergen, Norway, August–September.


‘Acedia: naming it and responding to it in the context of pastoral ministry.’ Paper presented at LCA Victorian Pastors’ Conference, Templestowe, Vic, April.

‘A Noble Task: being a pastor who is not ashamed of his ministry’. Paper presented to LCA Victorian Pastor’s Conference, Templestowe, Vic, April.


‘Luther: behind and ahead.’ A series of three lectures given to the LCA NSW Pastors’ Conference, Warrambui, NSW.

‘Martin Luther and the Reformation: their contribution to ecumenical discussions today.’ Lecture given to the South Australian Council of Churches Annual General Gathering.

‘On weariness of life: Martin Luther’s letter to Jonas von Stockhausen as pastoral care for the suicidal.’ A paper presented at the Luther@500 Conference, Melbourne, Vic.

‘Reflected majesty: praying the psalms of praise.’ Series of four lectures for Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide, SA.

‘Preaching to post-modernity: learning from Luther.’ A lecture to the LCA South Australian Pastors’ Conference, Paringa, SA.


From Conflict to Communion as a resource for observing the approaching 500th anniversary of the Reformation in a contemporary ecumenical context.’ Series of two lectures to the Lutheran Church of New Zealand Pastors’ and Church Workers’ Conference, Wellington, NZ. 

‘Oratio, meditatio, tentatio in life and ministry.’ Series of four lectures to the Aboriginal pastors of Finke River Mission, Tee Tree, NT.

‘Spirituality and mental health in the context of parish ministry.’ Presentation to Barossa Valley Lutheran Pastors’ Association, Angaston SA.

‘Oratio, meditatio, tentatio as a matrix for ministerial life and service.’ Series of four lectures to the LCA Victorian and Tasmanian Pastors’ and Church Workers’ conference, Melbourne VIC.

‘Hope in a minor key: praying the psalms of lament.’ Series of four lectures to Bethlehem Lutheran Congregation, Adelaide SA.


‘Seeing with Christ: the Christian’s conscience in the post-modern era.’ Paper for ‘Lutherans for Life’ Conference, Adelaide SA.


‘The Luther you never knew: recent Luther research and our image of Luther as reformer.’ Presentation to LCA Western Australia Pastors’ Conference, Rockingham, WA.

‘What is the office of the keys and how does it work?’ Presentation to ALC students, Adelaide, SA.


‘Rhetoric, affect and mission in John 20:19–23.’ Lecture to the LCA South Australia Pastors’ Conference, Belair SA.


‘Comfort ye my people: the lost pastoral art of consolation.’ Series of four lectures to the Aboriginal pastors of the Finke River Mission, Papunya, NT.

‘Pastoral encounter skills: reviewing the basics.’ Presentation to Barossa Valley Lutheran Pastors’ Association, Moculta SA.

‘The crisis of depressive illness in Australia in spiritual perspective.’ Presentation to Queensland Ecumenical Gathering of Heads of Churches, Brisbane, Qld.

‘Encountering depressive illness in ministry.’ Series of two presentations to the LCA Queensland Pastors’ conference, Toowoomba Qld.

‘Can depression lead to hope?’ Presentation to the ‘Food For Thought’ Lutheran Students’ Fellowship Gathering, North Adelaide SA.

‘Depression and the soul—a Cook’s tour.’ ALC Inaugural Lecture, North Adelaide SA. (Later published in Lutheran Theological Journal; see above.)

Current projects

2018 - currently working, for Concordia Publishing House, on a second monograph dealing with Luther’s general approach to pastoral care with those experiencing distress or suffering.

Stephen Pietsch