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Always a Seat at The Table

As co-chaplain of the Minnesota Timberwolves and a pastor at The Table MPLS, Matt Moberg ’08 strives to make sure everyone in his two communities know they are beloved and belong for exactly who they are—even as unprecedented hardships affect his communities.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

January 26, 2021 | 9:30 a.m.

Matt Moberg '08

Matt Moberg '08 and his son, Wyatt, attend a Minnesota Timberwolves game at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Moberg is in his second season as co-chaplain for the team, and he is also co-senior pastor of The Table MPLS.

Shortly after Matt Moberg ’08 met Minnesota Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders through his work at Christ Presbyterian Church, the two grew closer when they faced coinciding family hardships. Moberg and his wife Lauren’s ’06, S’09 middle son, Sawyer, was born two months prematurely while Saunders’ father, longtime NBA coach Flip Saunders, battled and later succumbed to cancer. During the pain, uncertainty, and loss of control, the two were in frequent contact, and Moberg realized you need people who allow you to be safe enough to be seen during such times. “I think for most guys, we go kicking and screaming into these places of vulnerability, but it’s a breath of fresh air when you’re there,” Moberg says.

Lessons from that time have served Moberg well since Saunders asked him to serve as co-chaplain for the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s come during a time fraught with hardship and uncertainty, from the death of George Floyd to COVID-19. But Moberg is striving to support the players and help them know they are valued by him—and God—for who they are. “It’s important to have people around you that you know actually care about what’s going on in you—people that remind you not just in their words but in their actions that who you are is more important than what you do, even if what you do gets more attention than who you are,” Moberg says.

Now in his second season as chaplain, Moberg continues developing his role beyond the short services he hosts for each team before home games. Though he can’t currently be with the team in person on the court or in the locker room due to COVID-19, he is carving out ways to be there for the team through the hardships of 2020 and early 2021. “In a stretch like we’re in right now, it’s answering calls from players last night, it’s texting with Ryan yesterday morning,” Moberg says. “It’s a lot more of the things that you do when you’re pastoring your community.”
Matt ’08 and Lauren Moberg ’06, S’09

Matt Moberg ’08 and his wife, Lauren ’06, S’09, live in Minneapolis with their three boys: Wyatt, 7, Sawyer, 5, and Graham, 2.

That difficult stretch started with the death of retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, which shook the industry and the Timberwolves players he had inspired. Then Floyd—a Black Minneapolis resident—died at the hands of a white police officer. As Moberg has formed relationships with the players and learned their stories, he has tried to be a supportive presence who makes space for voices on the team to wrestle with issues and with the pressures of being a known, professional athlete.

COVID-19 continues affecting the league and the team. Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has been open about his heartache after losing seven relatives, including his mother, and he recently contracted the virus himself. Moberg describes Towns as a beautiful, multi-layered person of depth, but added that makes difficult times even harder. Through such challenges, Moberg stresses that he is not there for wins or personal success, but to support a player like Towns in becoming healthy and whole. “With what the past year has brought to this team—and I think especially about Karl and all that COVID-19 has taken from his family—inside of all this pain has been the permission to be real, even if that real feels too raw for some,” Moberg says. “Biblically speaking, we’re all committed to making our way to Eden where we can be naked and have no shame—seen and fully safe. Trust happens on a journey like that.”

Timberwolves co-chaplain Chris Thibodeaux commends Moberg for his support and listening spirit during the difficult year. “He did a great job of showing empathy and his own frustrations while funneling his actions through the love of Christ,” he says. “Matt really cares about the players and the organization. He truly desires to be a bridge to helping others experience the love of Jesus Christ.”

Matt Moberg ’08 and Debbie Manning S’13

After George Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests last spring, co-senior pastors Matt Moberg ’08 and Debbie Manning S’13 and others at The Table MPLS led a community food, formula, and diaper drive for people in the community. They raised enough food that needed to rent a 26-foot truck to deliver it.

Moberg is also co-senior pastor at The Table MPLS. After Floyd’s death rocked their Minneapolis community, Moberg acted as an ally at the protests and led a community food, formula, and diaper drive that supplied numerous pop-up food shelves. Debbie Manning S’13, his co-senior pastor, also commends Moberg for leading with thoughtfulness and intention during the pandemic as he follows the science in making decisions for The Table, striving to keep the community safe and reflect Jesus’ call to love your neighbor. “Matt continually holds up the value and belief that all are beloved children of God and that all belong,” she says. “He does this both in word and action—it’s so a part of who we are and our rhythm that we see it in all places in community.”

Moberg’s drive to activism grew at Bethel, but it took him a while to discover his faith. Moberg describes himself as the black sheep of his four siblings growing up in Arden Hills, Minnesota, near Bethel. He questioned his belief in God, and he didn’t want to attend his parents’ alma mater—or any Christian college. But he changed his mind after his mother got a job at Bethel, which opened up tuition discounts. Though Moberg felt like an outsider during his first semester, he slowly experienced beautiful encounters with Christ through Bethel’s community. Gradually, he felt God’s pull until he had a conversion experience, which inspired him to change his major to biblical and theological studies. “I went kicking and screaming, and I left with a grateful heart,” he says. As his faith grew, so did his call to service. He helped start These Brothers of Mine, a mission that took Bethel students to downtown Minneapolis each weekend to serve pancakes for people experiencing homelessness. They just listened instead of evangelizing so people would leave feeling fed and seen.

After working with at-risk youth in Bloomington and pursuing his musical ambitions, Moberg started working at Christ Presbyterian Church (CPC) in Edina, Minnesota, which led him to seminary. Moberg and Manning later took over CPC’s Sunday night worship, The Table. As the community forged its own identity, Moberg and Manning left CPC to plant The Table as a church in Minneapolis, feeling called to form a space that welcomes people that have felt left out of the church, hurt by the church, or unsure about church. Though Moberg admits he never set out to be a pastor, he says what keeps him going is seeing people find a home in the church. In fact, that sentiment is at the heart of Moberg’s ministry. To close each service, he shares the same benediction: “No matter who you are or what you’ve done, who you love or what you’ve lost, where you’ve gone and where you’ve stayed, know that there will always be a seat here for you at the table because you are a beloved child of God. You, beloved, belong.”

Matt ’08 and Lauren Moberg ’06, S’09

Matt ’08 and Lauren Moberg ’06, S’09 pose with other members of the Minnesota Timberwolves family. Moberg is in his second season as co-chaplain for the team.

Thibodeaux sees that spirit driving Moberg with the Timberwolves, too. “He is intentional about removing barriers so people don't feel afraid of the ‘church’ thing,” Thibodeaux says. “Rather, his approach is more like ‘man, if you are hungry, we are happy to feed you.’”

In each service with the Wolves, Moberg tells the players: “Who you are is more important than what you do, even if what you do gets more attention than who you are.” For the Timberwolves and his community at The Table, he continues striving to remove any barriers keeping people from believing they are loved by God for who they are. “I want people to hear that the good news of the gospel is not an invitation into who they might someday be, but the announcement of who they already are—and the practice of following Jesus is the practice of learning how to more fully become the person that God insists I’ve always been,” he says.
Matt Moberg ’08

Alongside work as a pastor, Matt Moberg ’08 (center-right) has a passion for music and art. He briefly pursued a full-time career in music and participated in The Voice—though spots that season filled before he received a televised audition. Music is still a part of his life, as Moberg records music for television shows like “Deadliest Catch,” “Days of Our Lives,” “General Hospital,” “Good Morning America,” and many others.

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