Leah Jacobs Schade ’93 chose Shenandoah because of its newly formed mass communications program and conservatory, which welcomed her as a harpist.
“One of the strengths of Shenandoah is the breadth of programs they offer,” said Schade. “You can explore so many different areas of study. The school is able to attract high quality faculty and is a cultural center for the region.”
Schade’s fondest memories of the university are the people – both faculty and students. “All of them created a learning environment that was collegial, supportive, and inspiring,” said Schade. She also helped publish the first student newspaper at the time, ‘The SUN’(Shenandoah University News) and accompanied the jazz band on a tour of Japan as their publicist.
Schade is an associate professor of preaching and worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. In addition to being a professor at the school, she is also chair of the Green Task Force as well as the Pedagogy and Technology Committee. She was recently voted by her peers to become the 2nd Vice President of the Academy of Homiletics, a three-year term that will culminate with serving as President of the Academy in 2024.
Outside of the seminary, Schade has been an ordained Lutheran pastor for more than twenty years and has served three different congregations. “I’ve been a community organizer and activist for environmental issues for nearly a decade,” said Schade. She is also a professional harpist and a writer. Schade has authored and/or edited five books and is the author of the EcoPreacher blog.
In 2020, Schade co-founded the Clergy Emergency League. It’s “a network of 2,500 pastors throughout the U.S. who provide support, accountability, resources, and networking for clergy to prophetically minister in their congregations and the public square in this time of political upheaval, social unrest, and partisan division,” said Schade. She is also a member of Blessed Tomorrow Leadership Circle and the research exchange with the Kettering Foundation.
With all of her work in the community, Schade received the Kentucky Council of Churches Award in 2019 and the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvania Service Award in 2016.
Schade uses the education she received from Shenandoah every day. Her degree taught her critical thinking skills and strengthened her writing. Schade credits former professor Dr. Elizabeth Colton for helping her to develop and sharpen these skills. “As a minister, educator, author, and public speaker, I am grateful for what I learned at Shenandoah,” said Schade. Taking courses through the conservatory also enabled her to develop her career as a professional musician and music instructor.
Schade’s advice to students who are considering entering into ministry is: “to take as many courses in writing and communication as possible. Naturally, courses in religion and philosophy are also a must. Seek out the chaplain and local clergy to learn about their experiences. Ministry is a calling and it’s demanding work. But it’s also deeply rewarding and spiritually fulfilling.”