My name is Phil Allman, I was born in Hoffman Estates on August 14, 1990 to my parents Michael and Janet Allman. I was baptized on September 30, 1990 at my home congregation of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schaumburg. During my early years my parents took me regularly to church where I occasionally attended Sunday school. I grew up in the church through the school and my mother eventually became one of the librarians at the school. Going to St. Peter also increased my growth as a Christian.
I first began to think of becoming a pastor during confirmation, but it was just a side thought. However, I began to think more of it and thoroughly considered it through discussions with my pastor. My math teacher in high school also pulled me aside one day after class and told me that I’d make a great pastor someday if I chose to go down that road. That was very significant since she was from the Bible belt in Tennessee. Other ways that I felt God calling to me and eventually led to my vocation was that throughout high school I had many people come up to me and ask me to pray for them. I began to develop the zeal and consolation to share the Word of God amongst others and have liked to comfort others with the Word of God as well.
At Concordia University Chicago, I took an abundant number of Theology classes. One of my favorite theology classes was the History of Israel since it really made me think outside of the box. One of my favorite professors was Dr. Eschelbach since he made classes enjoyable while at the same time teaching the Word of God to a high standard. I graduated from the Pre-Seminary program at Concordia University and with Pastor Jeff’s support, have increased my calling and taught me many things about the doings and teachings of the church. He has been a great role model throughout my four years. I regularly attended chapel, assisted with communion, was on a CYM team and served as a deacon at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chicago.
After graduating in May I immediately moved to Fort Wayne to begin my studies at seminary. I focused solely this summer on Greek, and begin my first semester as a seminary student in September.
Thank you for your time,
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My name is Ryan Anderson and I am a first-year seminarian at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a pastor, ever since I was six years old. I attended public schools through high school and then did my undergraduate work at Concordia University Wisconsin. While there, I was blessed to be a part of the Honors Program, which enabled me to participate in some faculty research projects and conduct a research project of my own. I graduated Summa Cum Laude in the Spring of 2014 with a Pre-Seminary Studies and Theological Languages degree. I am originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, where my parents still reside. I have one sibling, Emily, who is a sophomore at Concordia University Wisconsin.
I am very excited about the coming years at Concordia Seminary. The opportunities that have arisen so far, especially in the congregations I have served for field work, have been formative for the future. Studying God's Word on a daily basis in classwork and devotions is also a great blessing. I would like to thank you all for considering supporting me or other seminarians through this program. Your support enables us to continue our studies, so thank you in advance. May the peace of God be with you always!
Greetings and the Lord’s blessings, my name is Rob Bailey. I am a 27 year old accountant who will be switching gears and starting my “2nd career” with enrollment at Concordia St. Louis. I will begin class this upcoming June 2013 and I look forward with the help of God completing my Masters of Divinity in 2017.
I have grown up and been a member at Prince of Peace in Palatine, IL my entire life. I am a lifelong member of the LCMS, from being at Sunday school, confirming my faith and being trained as a small group leader in high school. This foundation thanks to the Spirit and love of all the members at Prince of Peace has prepared me for college and life.
I attended college at Northern Illinois University and graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in Finance. At Northern I was able to act and share my faith. I am thankful for the opportunities to be the President of the Pi Sigma Epsilon chapter and a 3 year Community Advisor (also known as a Resident Assistant, RA.) I was able to support many lives and souls during their best times and during the dark hours of NIU’s history. I am thankful to the Lord for the experiences that He has leaded me through, for His work.
I have been an accountant for Etymotic Research Inc. for the past 4 years. I thank the Lord for being able to work at a company who has such a focus of supporting their employees. I have been able to share the Gospel and my faith to everyone there.
I started, with the help of Prince of Peace staff members, the 20/30 ministry in 2009. We have had many fellowship events like: paintballing, bowling, skydiving and Dave & Busters to name a few. A couple of our serving events include Feed My Starving Children, supporting Palatine food pantry and The Angel Christmas Tree. We currently meet on Sunday nights as a small group to read, discuss and open our hearts up to the Word of God. My time at Prince of Peace, I have not only become a small group leader but a coach for leaders of small groups. For the past 4 years, I have also had the great pleasure being a leader for the confirmation classes at Prince of Peace. I’ve been blessed to be mentored by Diana Vander Pas, Joy Kaufmann and Tim Kaufmann.
The call to become a Pastor is one that I’ve heard since I was six years old. The Lord has shaped, pruned and guided me these past 27 years. I am also thankful for the love, support, and guidance those closest to me have given over these last few years. I am looking forward to embracing His call to be His servant and as His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for His good works, which God has prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them.
Hello. My name is Daniel Bodin and am in my first year of study at Concordia Seminary. Growing up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the idea of being a pastor has been with me since I was around 8 years old. At times, the pull was hard. Other times, it was just kind of sitting in the back of my mind. With God’s help, I took a step of faith and applied to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. After being accepted, my wife and I packed up our home and two small kitties and left behind our jobs and family. I’m the youngest of four and have a twin brother.
I attended St. Cloud State University for my undergraduate years. Switching majors at least five times, I finally graduated with a Bachelors in English, more specifically Rhetorical and Applied Writing. My first two years I attended school on a music scholarship but I decided that wasn’t a future career for me. While finishing the requirements to turn my first two years into a minor, I met my wife in the Music department. We later married after we both finish our Bachelor programs.
Before Seminary, I wasn’t exactly sure what God’s plan was for me; especially since my education was English and Music, my significant job experience was in Graphic Design, and, before coming to seminary, my most recent job was in the Escrow department of a popular online bank. I can think of only one vocation that uses all of these experiences at once: Pastor.
So here I am, attending Seminary, watching God open door after door as I, along with my wife, continue on this exciting journey. I am looking forward to see where this path takes us and continually lean on Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” I pray God uses me for His plan, and am so thankful for all the blessings He provides.
Hello. My name is Aaron Bird. This past May, I graduated from Concordia University in Irvine, CA with a B.A. in Theological Studies. I also have been officially accepted to attend seminary in St. Louis, MO this fall.
I was born on April 2, 1991 in Templeton, CA. For the first few years of my life, I lived in Paso Robles, CA with my parents and my older brother Christopher. My parents’ names are James and Karen. A few years later, I welcomed another sibling in my brother Michael and then again two years later in my sister Kaitlyn. While we were here we attended Trinity Lutheran Church. It was here that I was baptized and also attended kindergarten at the school there.
After this, all six of us packed up and moved to Lodi, CA. It was here that we spent another seven years. I started school at St. Peter Lutheran School in Lodi. I attended this school from 2nd grade through 8th grade. While I was here, I learned and grew a lot. When I finished 8th grade, I received an award from the school called the Lux Christi Award. This was awarded by my peers to the student who most exemplified the light of Christ. At the time, I was much more concerned about being “cool” and trying to fit in, so this award did not mean much to me then. I now realize what an honor it was to receive this. It was not until a little bit later that I truly started to understand that God had a plan for me and that Jesus truly did die on the cross for my sins. At that point in my life, belief in Jesus was not really something on my radar. I attended church with my family and that seemed to be enough at that time.
Shortly after finishing 8th grade, my family and I moved to Bend, OR, where my family and I currently live. Living in Bend is absolutely wonderful. We are surrounded by great weather, great scenery and great people. The church that my family and I currently attend is Trinity Lutheran Church. I attended this church throughout high school and periodically through college depending on if I was at school or home for vacation. At this point in my life, I was influenced by many different people.
Other than my family, my two best friends Jordan and Joel were huge impacts on my life and my path toward ministry. When I first started spending time with them, they always talked about growing up and becoming missionaries or evangelists. In my mind, this seemed like a poor way to make money and therefore a poor life choice. The more I spent time with them, the more it became clear to me how important the task of ministry is. I would not have considered myself a Christian despite living in a Christian household until I met those two men. All I can say about this is that God came to me. He sought me out and made me aware of His grace and majesty. I was 16 years old when I first realized that not only did the Bible tell the story of Jesus’ work of salvation, but that it was TRUE. He really did live on this planet and do these things. My family was incredibly supportive and encouraging in my new awareness. They encouraged me to follow Christ with all of my being. I may not have wanted to go into church work at this point, but I was at least aware now of the worthiness in it.
Not much later, I found myself at Concordia University in Irvine. I entered as a Theological Studies and Biblical Languages double major. I had still not chosen to go into church work. I had thought about it, but I was much more interested in simply studying theology. I was not sure if I wanted to go to seminary.
By my second year, I had to drop my second major. I decided that I would go on Concordia's first Around the World Semester. I was not sure about this decision at first, but I was incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to go. This trip changed my life. It showed me that the God that I had grown to know was the same God that interacted with people all over the world. It was humbling to worship with people who did not speak my language and know that we are worshiping the same God across cultures.
Even after this trip, I was still not sure about going into ministry. I had people encouraging me to go, but I was not sure that I would make a good pastor. I was very nervous about the idea. One figure that continued to encourage me was my late grandfather Arnold Steinbeck. He was a Lutheran pastor for 40 years and encouraged me to also follow this path. It was incredible to have someone like my grandfather, who had gone through the same struggles as I had when deciding whether to go into the ministry or not. I really enjoyed talking to him about theology and studying Greek and other topics that we could both connect on. It was difficult, but I rejoice that he has finally finished the race and fought the good fight. Following his lead, I have struggled to the decision to enter into seminary study. I have a passion for theology but also a passion to care for people. These things have been fueled by the encouragement and support of my friends and loved ones. I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me over the next couple years and into the future as I go down this path of ministry.
Blessings in Christ,
Aaron Bird <><
My name is Matthew Brynildsen and I am a first year student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. I grew up around Southern Illinois only 40 minutes away from St. Louis. I come from a family of 5 Sons. I am the fourth of those Sons. I have also been blessed with the 2 most loving and caring parents that a young man could ask for.
I have gone to Lutheran schools for most of my educational years except for a few years during grade school where I was home schooled. I attended Metro East Lutheran High School in Edwardsville, Illinois. I attended Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin for a year and a half and ended up graduating from Western Governors University with a degree in Business Management.
For the last 3 years I have had the privilege of working with a homeless ministry that has truly changed my heart and how I view people. Serving people that are going through a tough time has made me very grateful for the blessings that I have been given but more importantly it has given me great relationships with people who have not been dealt the best hand. They are people like everyone else and just need our love and care. This ministry has really given me the push and the confidence to enter into the ministry and pursue my dream.
My dream ever since I could remember was to be a Pastor in The Lord’s church. So I do not take this responsibility and calling lightly. I am excited for Seminary because it will give me the educational expertise and I hope to be mentored by the many great professors that we have. I just hope that I will be used by The Lord to help His Church grow and prosper. May The Good Lord Bless His Church and May His Peace be with you always.
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My name is Daniel Chrismer, better known by my friends and family as Dan. I am a lifelong LCMS member and I grew up in St. Charles, MO and attended Immanuel Lutheran Church and School for Elementary School. My High School Education was completed at Lutheran High School of St. Charles County. My wife Emma and I are newly married as of May 18, 2013. We both attended Concordia University in Seward Nebraska. I graduated with B.A. in Theology while Emma graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education with a concentration in English. My journey to the Seminary prior to marriage was a long one.
I entered Concordia as a DCE student. I thought that is where God was calling me. After being involved in youth ministry through class work and an internship at my church I realized I was being called in another direction but I was not quite sure where that was. I went to Emma and told her of what I had been pondering and she was fully supportive of me going in another direction. Pastor Reek, one of my professors at Concordia and I had many discussions about me pursuing a graduate degree. After many of those discussions I began to wonder if the seminary was right for me. Following many discussions with Emma, family, friends, and a great deal of prayer and contemplation I came to the conclusion that the Seminary was the right direction.
I am a first year Seminary student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. My goal as a Pastor is to be first and foremost a church planter. I would like to be the Pastor of a church who’s goal is to disciple other people. In this discipling process, church planting would be a major priority. If God leads Emma and I in another direction, we are open to the Lords guidance. Currently we are in for a long road financially with student debt from undergraduate work and are in need of assistance. I know that it will be hard to do the Lord’s work with piles of debt getting taller and taller. I pray that you would be led to give any and all support whether by means of financial assistance for my education, or by prayer for my studies and her work, as a 3rd grade teacher at Child of God in St. Peters would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, and may the Lord bless you.
My name is Caleb Cox and I will be starting at Concordia Seminary St. Louis this fall. I was born February 19, 1991 in Carbondale, IL to a great Christian family and I lived in Chester, IL. My first brother was born in 1993 when I was 2. We then moved to Gilbert, AZ when I was 5 where I attended Lutheran school from Kindergarten-8th grade. All through this time, I was told by my friends and teachers that I should be a pastor when I grow up. I started to really think about it and decided that that was what God was telling me through all my friends, family, and teachers that He had planned for me. I knew that being a pastor would be something that I would love because I knew that I would be able to help people and talk about the most important thing in the world with them--that God loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for them in their sin and that He rose from the dead and because of that, we can believe in Him and have eternal life.
I went to high school in Gilbert, AZ at a public school and loved it because I got to know so many more people who were atheists, other denomination of Christian, and other religions in general. I loved getting to talk to them about my faith and who Jesus is. Those years in high school I got very involved in my youth group at my church and it was there that I realized that I loved mission work because of the times that we did service projects or went to Mexico for a building project. During my senior year at high school, I dated a girl who would be my future wife, however, after graduation, we decided that we should break up because we were going to different colleges and weren't ready for such a serious relationship right away in college.
I went to Concordia University Irvine in California for college where I started out as a Director of Christian Education student. However, after my fist year, I decided that God really was calling me to be a pastor. So I changed my program to Pre-Seminary and the preparation for more schooling to be a pastor route. Easter of my junior year, I proposed to my old high school girlfriend and she said yes! That summer, we went on a mission trip with Concordia for two months to Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Uganda. Those two months changed my life and my wife and I realized that God definitely is calling us to be missionaries in our lives to people in Africa as well as people in America.
Therefore, after my time at the Seminary, I would love to get involved in an organization that would be able to send my wife and I to East Africa where I could work as a missionary/pastor and my wife could be a nurse helping the people there with their health. As I go through the seminary I will be looking at any way possible to pursue this route and yet, at the same time, prepare myself to be a pastor in an American congregation as well.
Here is our story...
It all started with me telling Anna that I had a question for her. And her response, “Whatever the question is the answer is yes...” I used the opportunity to change my question into asking her on a date.
Our epic story began on July 9, 2005 with a 12 hour date which included coffee, Japanese cuisine, The Music Man, a playground, and a long drive back to Camp Lutherhaven. At the end of the night I was asked, “Where do you see this going?”
Several dates and many walks around camp brings our story to Valentines Day of 2006 (11:45 p.m. the night before if you ask Anna) when I asked Anna to be my wife. I would expound on the story but I believe Anna does gives more justice to the story then I ever could. So if you would like to know how we got engaged email her.
We were joined in marriage on August 19, 2006 in Racine, WI. Many of you were with us for the picnic, wedding, and party. It was another epic moment in our lives.
We lived in Fort Wayne, IN for a few months and waited for what came next. Camp Wartburg hired Anna to be a program director for the summer. It was a great summer living on camp but it only lasted a few months.
The week Anna finished as Camp Wartburg was the same week that I started working fulltime at Progressive Family Care and was PRN at Red Bud Hospital. Anna began working at Faith Lutheran as the Administrative Assistant for Worship. We moved to Red Bud, IL to live in a 300 square foot apartment. That apartment lasted us for 8 weeks before we moved into St. Louis City.
In July of 2008 I was hired by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in the Youth Ministry Office to work as a communications coordinator for the National LCMS Youth Gathering. Adelaide was born in January of 2010 and our world will never been the same. I was privileged to work through the 2010 Gathering before my position was cut due to lack of finances. During these years Anna began building her sewing repertoire and began doing projects under That’s Sew Anna.
In late August 2010 Faith Lutheran hired me to be an Assistant Communications Coordinator. Anna ‘retired’ from her role at Faith when our second daughter was born November 2011. She is currently enjoying being an awesome homemaker and seamstress.
I stepped down from my full time position at Faith, this past September, to become a full time student in pursuit of Master in Divinity at Concordia Seminary.
Today, I spend my time divided between my family, my Greek studies, and three part time jobs. We have made a conscience decision to take on very little debt over the past seven years and are committed to keeping up that standard as we go through the four years of seminary.
I grew up in Northern IL with my father, mother, and older half-brother. My family went to an Assemblies of God church since I was a child and it was in the Assemblies of God that I became a Christian. Throughout my educational life I have been taught in Christian schools. I had considered ministry for a long time, but assumed I would only end up being involved in a side ministry of some sort rather than full-time parish ministry. I wasn’t sure what God had in store for me.
I first came in contact with the LCMS when I started attending Concordia University Chicago in 2005. Concordia Chicago is also where I met my wife Veronica. My wife and I met at a music camp hosted by CUC during the summer before our senior year of high school and we met again during orientation our freshman year of college. We started dating and were engaged by the end of our freshman year. I started going with my wife to her LCMS church and learning more about the LCMS in the fall of 2005.
After my wife and I graduated from CUC (she graduated with a degree in Secondary Ed English in Lutheran Education, and I graduated with a degree in Literary Studies) we joined hands in marriage (6/14/09). I worked at a small party supply company for a few years, and then was hired for a software related position at Dell Computers. My wife worked at Gloryland preschool connected to our home church (Lord of Glory, Grayslake). We loved being there and being involved in many ministries while we were there for nearly 3 years.
While I had considered full-time ministry for many years I started feeling more comfortable with the idea after attending LCMS congregations, learning more about the LCMS, and becoming a member, but it still didn’t feel quite right for me. It was not until my wife and I were involved in youth ministry and other ministries at our home church, that my wife and I both felt like full-time ministry was the direction in which we were being lead. On the same day in the spring of 2011, my wife and I looked at each other and said, “It’s about time we go down to St. Louis.” My wife says she knew that I would end up being a pastor since she first met me, but it just took me a while to realize what God was calling me to do. I was accepted at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and started with Summer Greek in the summer of 2012. Classes are going great and we are very excited to be preparing for a life of full time ministry.
Amidst the classes, my wife and I both work. I work 15-20 hours per week on campus and my wife has worked since arriving in St. Louis, and is currently providing childcare daily for two families, and we both babysit for various Seminary families throughout the week. We have experienced a lot of generosity in helping to get bills paid and we have experienced first-hand that God always provides. We are truly blessed to be here preparing for a life of full-time ministry.
I grew up in the country; I lived in a small house outside the small Nebraskan town of Kenesaw. The total population of Kenesaw is about nine hundred people. Because I lived in a small town, I had to be creative to entertain myself. I played lots of Legos, built a tree house, had many water fights, worked with my dad, etc. I grew up with an older brother and a younger sister. My dad is a masonry worker and my mom is a cook.
After I graduated Kenesaw High School in 2005, I went to Concordia Nebraska my freshman year. There, I enrolled in the pre-seminary program. The summer after my freshman year, I worked as a counselor at a Lutheran outdoor ministry camp, called Camp Wartburg, in southern Illinois. There I met my future wife, Tracie. We worked together as summer camp leaders and counselors for the next three years. Tracie and I love camp ministry!
I transferred to Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Illinois, in the fall of 2006, where I switched gears and started a degree in Lutheran Elementary Education. I married my beautiful, loving wife Tracie, on June 7, 2008. Tracie also graduated in 2008 with a degree in Lutheran Early Childhood Education and a minor in Spanish. She actually taught for two years at an Early Childhood Center at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Glenview, Illinois, before I finally graduated myself. I graduated in the fall of 2009 with a degree in Lutheran Elementary Education, a minor in Studio Art, and a specialization in Theology.
After I graduated, we stayed in Chicago for about six months before my wife and I took my first call to Trinity Lutheran School in Grand Island, Nebraska. Two months before we moved to Nebraska, we were blessed by God with our first child, Isaac Gene Douglas. For the past two years, I have taught as a fifth grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School. My wife has taught two years as well as a preschool teacher at Peace Lutheran Preschool in Grand Island. Also, we were just blessed with another child from God, Levi Benjamin Douglas, on November 5, 2011.
Before my second year of teaching was finished, I felt a tug on my heart from God to pursue Pastoral Ministry. After many months of praying and confiding in trusted friends and other pastors, I accepted God’s calling to start a journey towards being a pastor. By God’s grace, I have started my studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, which began this last fall. I am very excited to have start this new chapter in my life with my wife and two children. Our God is truly good, and he always provides for our needs. God never said to understand His plans for our lives; He simply said to trust His plans for us through His Son Jesus Christ! I am learning more and more each day to simply say, “May the Lord’s Will be done!”
I was born into a Lutheran family and have been Lutheran all my life. I grew up in Bakersfield, the armpit of California. Seriously though, Bakersfield is hot sweaty and everything smells bad. My home congregation is St. John's Lutheran Church, where I had the blessing of listening to Pastor Hilken's in-depth sermons. He painted a clear image on whatever he preached, bringing forth the details the rest of us would miss in the text.
I was homeschooled through Valley Oaks Charter School from 4th grade through high school. I had the best GPA of the 30 kids in my class, so they told me I was Valedictorian.
I went to Concordia University Irvine right after high school. I was considering about five different majors, none of which were the pastoral ministry. In fact the pastoral ministry was the LAST thing I wanted to do. I am terrified of getting my theology wrong and then preaching heresy to hundreds of people every week. However, as I began to study my general education courses a theme popped up. I really enjoyed theology. Dr. Mark Brighton opened up a world that even Pastor Hilken wasn't able to reveal to me. He cut deep into the text and pulled out meaning from the language culture and history of the ancient civilizations. This is what I now understand as basic exegesis. This fascinated me and I declared biblical languages as my minor and then a few months later, theology as my major. My junior year I had a unique opportunity. I went to Cambridge England to study at Westfield House, a small Confessional Lutheran Seminary connected with Cambridge University. Here I was exposed to the English university system, and to English theology. It was a magical time, reading and writing about whatever topic I found interesting, and experiencing what the English culture and country had to offer. I then graduated from Concordia University Irvine with honors.
I have been accepted to Concordia Seminary St Louis. I am excited to learn as much theology as they will teach me, and to then teach as much theology as I can to anyone who will listen. From what little theology I know, I can see that the world is a dark place in need of the light of Christ. I hope that God will use me to make this world a little bit brighter.
My name is Nicholas Duerr, and I am currently a student at St. Louis Seminary. I was born in Bakersfield, CA, in 1992. From a very young age and all the way through high school, I was homeschooled through Valley Oaks Charter School. It was during my Junior year of high school that I decided I wanted to become a pastor. I graduated top of my, albeit very small class, in 2010, and was awarded the honor of valedictorian.
For my bachelors degree, I attended Concordia University Irvine. During the orientation week, I met my wife, Mikaela, and we started dating later that year. In the fall of 2012, I had the opportunity to participate in Concordia's Around-the-World Semester. This trip consisted of visiting ten countries in nineteen weeks, where I was able to participate in mission opportunities and study the cultures we were visiting. This opportunity opened up to me the possibility of becoming a full-time, international missionary. I then began to study theology in earnest, having finally finished all of the general education classes required for graduation. Having the opportunity to spend all my time in my chosen field, I fell in love with the subject all over again. I relished the opportunities I had to study anything and everything, and was maturing very much in my knowledge of the field. In May, 2014 I graduated from Concordia magna cum lade.
I am now attending Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. I am excited for the opportunities that I am provided here, from studying scriptures on a daily basis, to opportunities to serve in a local church.
My wife, Mikaela, is a kindergarten teacher at Our Savior Lutheran School, a local congregation. As a recent graduate of Concordia University Irvine, this is her first call as a teacher. After I graduate, we hope to both be called to a church, where we will be able to serve God and a congregation.
In the name of Christ our savior.
I am Travis Ferguson, a third year student (vicar) at Concordia Seminary. Let me first start off by telling you who I see myself to be: a son, a baptized disciple of Christ, someone committed to counseling and care, and most of all, a sinner. My life experiences have helped to develop my view of myself, so it might be helpful to give a brief autobiography.
If there is one thing I have learned about life, it is that life is full of ups, downs, and average times. Like most people, I have experienced all three. My mother and father were divorced when I was 2 years old. My early life was definitely not easy.
Having said that, I had a plethora of good influences and role models throughout my life. My mother was the best example of a hard worker and dedicated parent. I saw her sacrifice a great deal of things for me throughout my childhood. I hope I can be half the parent that my mother was for my own children some day.
During my teenage years, Rev. Frank Eberhart, the former pastor at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Kansas City, KS, took me under his wing. He took me with him on hospital calls and shut in visits. He fulfilled the role of grandpa that I desperately needed during high school. He showed me what it meant to be a relational person. Pastor Eberhart was a great inspiration and mentor in the course of becoming a pastor, and is still a great mentor and inspiration to this day.
My college experience at Concordia University- Nebraska was wonderful. I learned a lot about people and God. Seeing the change from the first week of freshman year to the last week of senior year has been amazing. I saw myself mature, and I saw others around me mature as well. The biggest growth I’ve seen, however, was in my faith. Through those peaks and valleys in life I was able to realize that most of life is right in the middle. Having faith throughout the most average times of life seems to keep me on track the most.
One of my deepest passions is talking with people, and being involved in incarnational ministry. Being a relational and a “real” person can really change the evangelism mission. It is my experience that so many people are turned off from the church because of “fake” people. I have seen in my interactions with people that when you are authentic, people tend to trust in you more and are more open to hearing what you have to say.
I hope to serve Christ’s Church in various ways and however the Good Lord deems fit. I recently was commissioned as a Lieutenant (Chaplain Candidate) in the United States Air Force. That is just one area of ministry that I have long desired to be part of. I look forward to all the God has in store for me and my fellow brothers who are also preparing for the ministry.
I was born in Enid, OK. My dad was a farmer. He died when I was 11. My mom was a stay at home mom and then a school teacher. Now she is a Thrivent agent. I graduated from Enid High School and attended the University of Tulsa on a National Merit Scholarship. I graduated Magna cum laude with a double major in history and religion, and a minor in economics. I served on the national board for Lutheran Student Fellowship. I was the student member of the LCMS's Campus Ministry Think Tank in January, 2012. I also served on the planning committee for the Unwrapped National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference that took place in January, 2013. I sing and am an avid instrumentalist. I played clarinet and tuba in bands in college, and I can also play most band instruments, organ, piano, classical guitar, and accordion.
Hello my name is Hayden Folks,
I was born in Castro Valley California and grew up there with my Father, Mother, and younger brother. I praise God for the blessings he gave me through my parents. I especially thank him that my Mom raised my brother and I in the Church. Growing up Boy Scouts and Youth Group took most of my time and provided me with valuable experience.
Half way through my High School career I started to take a serious look at the Faith that my Mom had raised me in. I began to realize that the Church I was raised in, an ELCA congregation, seemed to deny some of the basic truth I found evident in The Scriptures. This led to a time of formation and searching for me as I sought the Truth through conversations with my Mom and the leadership at my Church and through personal research and meditations on the Scriptures.
I looked into the teachings and beliefs of many different denominations and here I must praise God again. I discovered Confessional Lutheranism in the LCMS. With the support of my Mom I began attending Grace Lutheran Church in Hayward. I had found in Grace Lutheran a loving and Faithful Congregation.
At this point I knew I wanted to serve the Church in some way through my professional life but did not yet know how. I attended Concordia Irvine where I was blessed again. Through prayer and conversation I decided to attend Concordia Seminary St. Louis in order to pursue a pastoral call.
I thank you and thank God for any assistance you wish to provide me in dealing with the pesky Left Hand Kingdom business of paying for Seminary.
Greetings in Christ!
My name is Marshal Frisque and I was born on September 7, 1988. I was born in Rockford, Illinois but grew up in Milton, Wisconsin. I attended St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School in Janesville, Wisconsin.
In third-grade I began telling people that I was going to be a pastor. We had wonderful pastors at St. Paul’s and God laid it on my heart to be a pastor. All through grade school, high school and into college I was following the path to become a pastor. I was a Pre-Seminary Major at Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) and studied in multiple theological and bible courses as well as biblical languages. I have been blessed during those years to travel on a number of mission trips. I have been to Uganda twice, Hungary, Slovakia, Hong Kong, Macau, China, and Turkey. I learned during these trips of the differences in religions and religious freedom around the world and how to be the light of Christ in the darkness.
During my sophomore year at CUW I began to question the calling to become a pastor, and I changed degrees to Computer Science with a minor in Missions/Theology. Technology has always been a hobby of mine growing up. I decided at that point that I would never close the door to pastoral ministry. I knew God would make it known when the time would be right to go to seminary.
I graduated in the Spring of 2011 and took my first job in CUW’s Marketing Department overseeing all of their social media. My fiancée at the time still had a year and a half of school and I wanted to remain in the area. We got married in the Summer of 2012 and shortly after she graduated in the Winter of 2012. We took a job with Lutheran Church Charities in Addison, Illinois to work in their I.T. and Communications areas. I was excited to have the opportunity to serve people and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering. I wondered if this was finally where God wanted me to be and do His ministry.
After an amazing year with the birth of our first daughter and working with Lutheran Church Charities, it became evident that my passion and God given talents were in ministry with people. God especially used this year of our lives to train us up for the journey into seminary. I was blessed to serve people across the country that were suffering after shootings, tornadoes, explosions and more. I learned that I want to spend every waking moment bringing the hope of the gospel to those in need through the Word and Sacrament. Now it is time to move to Fort Wayne and begin my seminary studies at Concordia Theological Seminary.
Thank you for your prayer and financial support. God has blessed us with wonderful people in our lives that have supported us through this journey and we are confident that He will continue to bless us with great friendships and relationships in the future. God bless you today and always!
Hi! I’m Alex Harris and am currently preparing to serve the church at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Having grown up surrounded by ever-loving parents, family, and friends I developed a love for God and his word at an early age.
I first felt a call to the ministry as a sophomore in high school when I volunteered at Camp Lakeview in Seymour, IN. I continued to pray about it, but did not talk to my family about this. One day, without me mentioning anything of my prayers, my grandfather, Rev. Thomas Going, asked I had ever considered being a pastor. Through his suggestion, I was assured God had confirmed my prayers and from that point I sought to prepare myself for the ministry
At Valparaiso University I studied Public Relations and Chinese as well as Greek and Hebrew and served as the president of Campus Crusade for Christ where I led weekly bible studies and servant events. During my sophomore year, I studied in Hangzhou, China for a semester and from this I developed a deep love for the Chinese people. I attended a local church and witnessed how, despite heavy restrictions, God’s word was alive was changing lives. I pray that my wife, Ashley, and I will be able to go back and work with the church in China to support their ministry and to help spread the gospel of Christ even further.
Each day that I am at the Seminary I am challenged both spiritually and academically by the work and although it is difficult, I love every minute of it because it is preparing me for a life of service.
My name is Jacob Hercamp, and I am from Columbus, Indiana. I am a member of St. John’s White Creek Lutheran out in the country just a few miles south of Columbus. My parents, brother and both sets of grandparents are members at St. John’s, White Creek. My church also has a K-8th grade school attached. I went there for elementary school.
My father was elected to an exploratory board to learn more about starting a Lutheran high school in the area, and I wanted to go there. I went to Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour, Indiana. At Trinity, many teachers began putting the idea of me going into the ministry. However being a senior in high school, I decided not to listen to them. Upon my graduation in 2007, I went to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana to study chemistry.
While at Indiana University, I began meeting many great Lutheran friends who wanted to found a Lutheran fraternity chapter of Beta Sigma Psi, The National Lutheran Fraternity. My decision to go into the ministry was cemented during the spring quarter of my junior year of college. Being a leader in the fraternity, I learned just what it meant to be servant for my brothers. I served first as president of the group, and then moved to lower roles such as philanthropy chair and chaplain. In four and half years the fraternity went from an interest group to a chartered chapter with a house in the heart of the campus just two blocks away from the University Lutheran Church. I graduated from Indiana University in December 2011.
I chose to attend Concordia Theological Seminary because many of my fraternity brothers were pastor kids. Most of their fathers went to Fort Wayne, and I had experience with some of the faculty already. The faculty is world class, and I have already learned much from them. Yet, I feel there is much that I still have to learn. It has been a blast so far.
In high school, I had the opportunity to travel to England and Spain. I grew in wanting to learn more about different cultures; particularly I wanted to if the Lutheran Church had a presence. At Concordia in the early fall of 2012, I learned that 2nd year students had the opportunity to study abroad. The program that interested me the most was the one year study program at Westfield House. Westfield House is the House of Study for the Lutheran Church of England, located in Cambridge. I applied and was accepted. I want to be as well rounded as I can be as a pastor, and I think this opportunity to study in a different country such as England will give me experience few others will have.
Before leaving for Cambridge in August, I will be serving as summer vicar at Westgate, Iowa. I will be serving Grace Lutheran Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church co-currently under the supervision of Pastor Burt Mueller. This again will be a wonderful way to gain precious experience in preparation of the Holy Ministry. I feel very blessed to have these opportunities knocking at my door. During my time Iowa, I will be paid a total of $3,600. That money will be used to buy my plane ticket for England. If there is money left over, it will go to help pay for my second year at seminary.
From my years at Indiana University, I accrued student loans of nearly $30,000. Already at seminary I have received $15,000 in loans. The reason I did not have to take out more loans for my first year of seminary was that I went out of my way to find scholarships like this one. I was awarded over $3,500 in scholarship money for the 2012-2013 school year. Scholarships like yours help immensely with seminary expenses. I appreciate the opportunity to apply for this scholarship.
My name is Alex Hoffmeyer, and I am a first- year student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. First and foremost, I want to thank you for your generous monetary support. Your donations allow me to continue my education on my way to becoming a minister in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. I have looked forward to attending the seminary for the past five years, and now that I have begun the process I am excited to see what the next four years have in store for me. But first, let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I made the decision to attend the seminary before my junior year of high school while on a mission trip to Seattle, WA. The trip was focused on two primary parts: urban outreach and reflective prayer. I helped out as the craft station leader at a Vacation Bible School in the city. One night a kid asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I told him I was thinking about becoming a pastor—but I had never considered that before in my life. The only time it had ever crossed my mind was in confirmation. My pastor pulled me aside one night and told me that I should consider becoming a pastor some day. I didn’t consider that a possibility, because at the time I couldn’t see myself as a pastor. But this mission trip reminded me of his words. The next day, during reflective prayer time, I turned to I Corinthians 9:16, which reads, “Yet when I preach the gospel I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (NIV).
That passage resonated with me, and it was on that day that I made the decision to pursue the office of pastoral ministry. I knew that, while I didn’t foresee this future for me, God had plans for me. Since then, all of studies and actions have been leading me towards completing the seminary and entering the parish. I attended Valparaiso University, studied English and Classics, and graduated in May 2013 with a BA.
I hope that my time here at the seminary will allow me to acquire the necessary skills to successfully serve as a parish minister at a congregation somewhere in the United States. My pastor, Rev. Brian Davies, has been a role model to me as I have prepared for and begun my studies. My goal is that, one day, I will be able to serve at a growing parish and preach the gospel to all those who will hear it, holding true to Paul’s words in I Corinthians 9.
My name is Robert Hopkins. I was born in San Gabriel, California and lived there until I was nine years old. At that time, my parents moved to Gulfport, Mississippi. I spent my time growing up here, completing high school in 1992 at Gulfport High School.
I attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College from 1992 until 1994. In 1994 I went away to college at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), which is about 60 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. While studying at Ole Miss I spent all four years in marching band and concert band, playing clarinet and French horn. After finishing college, I moved back to Gulfport where I worked several different jobs. I worked as a manager at Subway, a ramp/customer service agent for AirTran Airways, and finally as a manager at Popeye’s chicken. I held this job until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. My father rebuilt the house and still lives in Southern Mississippi.
My mother died suddenly in 2001. After the hurricane destroyed my home, I decided to pack up what was left and move back to California. I went to work in construction when I got there, because my family members in California were all involved in construction. I met my wife in California in 2006. Her father was a Lutheran Pastor in Hemet, California, and I started going to her church. In October 2007, we were married in her father’s church.
Her father retired in 2010, and died shortly thereafter. I decided in 2010, after much prayer, to attend a seminary and become a pastor. After even more prayer and consideration, and visiting both Concordia Seminary St. Louis and Concordia theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, I decided the Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne would be where I would attend.
We moved from California to Indiana in June 2012, so that I could start summer Greek. So far my grades have been good, and we have enjoyed living here. I am a laid back guy who enjoys being outdoors. My hobbies include: hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, camping, and gardening. I enjoy doing anything that is outdoors.
My name is Matt Knauss. My wife, Michelle, and I were married in 2002 and we have three kids with us at Seminary (ages 9,7, & 2). I started classes with Greek in the Summer of 2014 with Dr. Voelz. Prior to following the call to Seminary, I worked in and with Restaurants. I started in the kitchens and cooked for several years after Culinary School. I then ventured into Wine Sales and then onto Restaurant Management. All this time, my wife and I voluntarily lead our High School Youth Group for 12 years at our home congregation, Grace Lutheran in Ventura, CA. I served there as an elder for 6 years and we helped anywhere we could.
I have always enjoyed our time in ministry at the church and could see that God was leading us to move out of restaurants and into professional church work. St. Louis has given us the opportunity to experience true seasons. Our kids have loved playing in the snow and we’re figuring out how daily life works with snow.
Thank you to all the donors to LCC and those who support the Seminarians. It is a difficult decision to uproot family and move somewhere new, but the decision was very clear as well.
God’s Blessings to you and Peace in Christ
Matt Knauss - Seminarian, Concordia, St. Louis
My name is Logan Landes. I am 23 years old and am a first year student at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I attended Zion Lutheran School in New Palestine, Indiana for grade school and the Lutheran High School of Indianapolis for high school. I studied in the Pre-Seminary program at Concordia University Wisconsin. I graduated there May of last year.
I am from a family of five. My father is a computer technician and my mother is a teacher's assistant at a Lutheran grade school. My older brother was a construction worker, but he was killed on site a few years back. My little sister just started studying computer science at college this year. I am engaged to Lydia Gallup, a Lutheran school teacher and organist for St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Munster, Indiana. We are to be married in 2014.
I was born and raised in Evansville Indiana to my parents, Tim and Kay. I have three sisters Jenni, Tara, and Erin. I briefly considered pastoral ministry during my time in High school but I put it out of my mind, only to return to the idea during my time at Indiana University. The summer of 2012 was quite exciting as I both married my wife, Laura, and moved to St. Louis to begin my seminary education. Laura is employed at a local physical therapy clinic, and I am thoroughly enjoying classes at Concordia.
Hello, hello, and may God's peace be with you! My name is James Miller, and I'm pictured here with my lovely wife, Melissa. I grew up in DeKalb, Illinois and am a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church and Student Center. I attended Northern Illinois University where I studied jazz bass performance with the initial plan of being a professional jazz musician, playing every night of the week in Chicago. When I realized how unrealistic that was, I shifted my focus to being a professional church musician, directing choirs and planning music for a church. The more involved I got with my church's college group and the more I spent time with the campus pastor, Marty, I yet again shifted my focus. After much dialogue with Pastor Marty, my friends, my family, and my then-fiancee, I realized that God was calling me to be a pastor. I saw my calling not only to be a parish pastor (which I anticipate greatly), but also to use my musical background to write new songs and hymns for the church. So after my graduation, our wedding, and a year of working retail, my now-wife and I have started the next leg on our journey together: Seminary.
My name is Chris Paavola and I am currently the Director of Worship Production at St. John church in Ellisville, MO. In September of 2013 I will be enrolling in Concordia Seminary to become a pastor.
I am the youngest of three, raised in an incredible home by two incredible, Christian parents. While I was in high school, my father also made the choice to become a second-career pastor. His sacrifice and dedication to the kingdom had a profound influence on me as I wrestled with my own decision to enter the Seminary.
I am an artist of all kinds, but primarily a musician. I love gardening and the outdoors. I like techy toys and have a secret goal in life to be the voiceover for Donald Duck. Disney still hasn’t responded to my multiple inquires.
I graduated from Concordia Austin in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree and spent the next decade in a variety of ministry roles. From a High School Youth Director at a church plant to a Worship Production Director at an established church, each ministry experience over the last decade has helped me develop my leadership gifts before I lead a congregation as a pastor.
My wife and I were married in 2005. After a few years of struggling with infertility we became the parents of two incredible children through adoption. The experience has dramatically changed our outlook on not what it means to be a family, but also on what it means to be adopted into in the family of God.
My personal mission statement is “to do whatever it takes to save as many as possible, and equip them to do the same as passionate followers of Jesus.” About two years ago this mission led me to learn more about church planting. Not only is church planting one of the most effective ways to reach lost people, but I learned my skill set and my heart matches that of a church planter. God was beginning to move by His Spirit and instill a new vision for my future as a pastor who would plant a church.
I want to plant a church that grows into multiple locations, each one sharing a common mission and vision, each one combining their humanitarian efforts to eradicate a need in a city.
By God’s grace, and with the help of others, God’s vision for my future will become a reality.
My name is Zac Patterson. I am 23 years old and will start attending Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana this fall. I was born in Red Oak, Iowa. My father is an LCMS pastor, and a few months after I was born, he took a call to a church in Indiana and later to Texas, where I lived for 19 years. I have attended private Lutheran schools since preschool. First at Trinity Lutheran School in Spring, then Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, and most recently Concordia University Texas in Austin. My education provided me with great opportunities to learn about God and form friendships that still last to this day.
During my undergrad, I met a girl named Emma in my freshman English class. We were fast friends and a year later I somehow managed to make it out of the friend zone. We were married in Snohomish, Washington last October. She graduated from Concordia with a degree in Mathematics.
As a pastor's kid, becoming a pastor was the farthest thing from my mind growing up. However, after changing my major a couple of times (from psychology to Lutheran education to DCE) and with lots of prayer, I realized that my desire to help people and teach them about God and His grace would be best fulfilled through becoming a pastor. I completed my undergrad with a Multidisciplinary degree focusing on Religion and Biblical Languages.
It has been difficult trying to afford costs of living, tuition, and moving across the country to Indiana for a young married couple. My wife especially is quite prone to worrying, but Matthew 6:26 says, "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" God has shown us time and time again that we are precious to Him and that He will provide for us, and we trust that He will continue to provide and bless us these next four years at Concordia Theological Seminary.
Hi, my name is James Peterson. I was baptized on October 25th, 1992, and I grew up in the LCMS. I am originally from Carterville, IL. I attended a Christian school growing up, and I had the opportunity to compete in a Bible Scripture memory program. It was this experience that first encouraged me to think about becoming a pastor in the future. The school helped me to learn more about the Christian faith, and it eventually led me to decide to attend Concordia Nebraska after I graduated high school.
Because of the Bible Scripture memory program, confirmation, and a few visits to the seminary during high school, I knew that I wanted to continue to pursue becoming a pastor. Learning about our Lord and growing in faith through weekly church attendance, I began to become more and more involved in my church's various ministries. Now, after graduating from Concordia Nebraska, I have learned about the many challenges and blessings of the ministry and I am excited to attend Concordia Theological Seminary this fall.
I met my wife two years ago while we were on a mission trip to Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Her name is Michela. She has always wanted to be a missionary, and we definitely have an interest in becoming missionaries in the future. She comes from a family of ten. I always wanted to have a brother, and now I have seven! We have been married for seven months.
Grace and peace be with you all. Thank you for your time, and for your consideration to support me and the other seminarians as we continue to pursue pastoral ministry.
Don Nathan Prevot
My name is Don Nathan Prevot, I was born on April 1st 1982 to a Christian family in Jacmel City, South East Haiti.
Mellissa and I were married in 2008.We have a four year old daughter, Anne Lissa. As back ground I am waiting to pass my last exam to obtain a law degree. I have knowledge in communication ,administration and English. I helped start the first Lutheran church of Jacmel and am Dr. Marky Kessa’s right hand. Since then, I became part of the board and have taken responsibilities working with Mission teams coming to Haiti as a translator, driver, leading the musical section and the men's choir, leading youth groups. Officially, I became a Lutheran in the year 2000. My dream is to attend Concordia Theological seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, where my pastor, Dr. Kessa went to seminary, to become a pastor. After I finish seminary, my hope is to return to my country in order to share the gospel alongside the other pastors throughout Haiti.
Greetings to all my brothers and sisters in Christ! My name is Joshua Ralston. I was born December 6, 1992. I was born and raised in a suburb of Little Rock, Arkansas called Maumelle. I have two older brothers for siblings and a mom and a dad. My poor mother had to control a house of restless boys, so growing up with my family was great! I have been in a Lutheran school all of my life until I had to switch to Arkansas Baptist High School because the Lutheran High School that I went to had shut down. I am a lifer when it comes to being a Lutheran. God adopted me into His family through the waters of Holy Baptism on December 31, 1992. I was confirmed in the Lutheran faith May 27, 2007.
I first became interested in pastoral ministry when I was in high school my sophomore year. I was in a Theology class at the Lutheran high school I went to at the time and we were discussing why the LCMS does not ordain women. Now, being from the south, I was surrounded by Baptists, even in the Lutheran school. They were debating with the teacher and one comment that they said really stuck out to me. They said, “The reason that women are becoming pastors is because men aren’t stepping up to do the job.” For some reason, that really hit me hard. It convicted me and challenged me like as if someone was saying “Hey Josh, why don’t you become a pastor?” After denying that I could ever become a pastor, people came to me and said that I could make a good pastor. Everyone was encouraging and I prayed and thought about my future vocation and I found myself interested in pastoral ministry. I then met with pastors and talked with teachers and they directed me towards my next step: college.
My pastor and teachers directed me to go to Concordia University Nebraska. I went here mainly for the Pre- Seminary courses, specifically Greek and Hebrew. I graduated with a degree in World and Intercultural Studies, in which I took some theology classes on relating the Gospel to a different type of culture, which I found interesting and fruitful for the vocation I am pursuing.
I have many hobbies. I enjoy disc golfing, basketball, football, or any sport. I also enjoy playing the guitar and having great conversations with friends. I am a pretty easygoing person. I also love to cook for others.
I am looking forward to seminary this next fall, in which I will be attending as a first year student. I am excited for the opportunities that the Lord has given me so that I may study His word and grow in faith.
Thank you for your consideration and prayers are also always needed. Thank you and have a blessed day!
In the redeeming blood of Christ,
Hello! My name is Nick Shults and I am a first year student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. I am 31 years old and am originally from Portland, Oregon. I graduated in 2004 from Seattle Pacific University with a B.A in Christian Theology and Christian Education. I also spent a year at Concordia University – Portland completing the post-Bachelor’s Director of Christian Education certification program.
After completing my coursework in Portland I served as the DCE intern at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Orlando, Florida and took my first call Faith Lutheran Church in Fair Oaks, California where I served for 4 ½ years before coming to St. Louis. As a DCE I served primarily with youth and college students leading Bible studies and programs, teaching confirmation, organizing mission trips and service projects and leading Vacation Bible School during the summer.
I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to dedicate myself to the study of Scripture and theology and through this formation process I pray that God will to continue to use me to serve His kingdom and teach others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
When I’m not studying I enjoy reading, playing guitar and ukulele, hiking, and playing basketball and softball.
My name is Jerry Smith, and I am entering my first year of the Master of Divinity program at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. I have been married to Valerie for more than 24 years, and we have four children: Ryan, Rachael, Aaron, and Nora. I worked at the Journal Star, a daily newspaper in Peoria, Ill., for nearly 25 years, first as a writer, then as an editor, until finally resigning my position in May 2015 so that I could come to the seminary to pursue the inner call to become a Lutheran pastor in the Missouri Synod. The desire to come here has been echoing with me for as long as I can remember. Dad would have told you it started when I was a teen growing up at Redeemer in late 70s and early 80s. But it grew only louder, clearer and more persistent after Valerie and I became deeply involved in a ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Peoria called “We Are The Church: A Call to Mission” as musicians, speakers and leaders, beginning in 1998. My inner call became almost irresistible in about 2011, prompting me to finish my finish the college education I needed to enroll at CTSFW. I hope to some day lead either a small rural parish or assist other churches caring for the needs of the people.
My name is Erik Sorenson. I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 27, 1991 and grew up in the Indianapolis area. I first thought about becoming a pastor sometime in late elementary school. I was confirmed in May of my eighth grade year. Throughout most of my high school career, I intended on going to school to study for the ministry. I decided, however, to begin college by studying sports management at Xavier University. While at Xavier, I was blessed with an amazing LCMS congregation that I attended every week. During that time, I received much encouragement both from the pastor at the church, but also from the family that came to pick me up each Sunday so I may go to worship. That church, and the family that picked me up each week in particular, were instrumental in my formation during college. After three semesters, I felt called back to the ministry so I transferred to Concordia University Wisconsin to major in Pre-Seminary Studies and minor in Theological Languages. I graduated from CUW in May 2014. I have just begun my first year of studies at Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne. I look forward to the years ahead as I continue my studies for the ministry and the formation that will continue to happen while at the Seminary.
"Why do you want to be a pastor?"
That is the main question for someone about to dedicate their life to the Lord in pastoral ministry. I was born, raised and confirmed in the LCMS and the idea of serving in the pastoral ministry first came to me in junior high school. However at that time I looked at the requirements of Greek and Hebrew and thought the Greek and Hebrew were too much and to pursue a career elsewhere.
Towards that end I knew I wanted to help people so when I started college I pursued a major in Psychology. After graduating I began working in the mental health field and was accepted to a Master’s Program in Counseling. However as I got into in the program I soon realized that the world view I was being taught was in opposition to the truth’s found in God’s Word. Things were settled when I ultimately left that program by God’s providence and found myself asking “what to do next?”
I found that answer in South Korea where I found work as an English teacher in a Korean high school. Korea is also where God began calling me after all these years back to the pastoral ministry. You see, about 25% of Korea is Christian meaning that churches abound in Korea. However many of these churches struggle with syncretism, the unfortunate truth being that prosperity gospel, works-righteousness and charismatism are often taught in place of the gospel. Seeing so many people get caught up in these things and be hurt by them spoke to my heart that something had to be done which invariably led to me considering the pastoral ministry.
After returning from Korea the call to be a pastor remained with me as I deliberated where I was being called. I briefly considered other careers but the call to the pastoral office remained loud and clear. After meeting and praying with the pastor of my home church the remaining doubts about seminary were gone and I knew it was where I was meant to be. I now find myself at Concordia Seminary St. Louis preparing for ministry. I very much look forward to where the Lord will send me next, whether that be back to Asia, in the United States or anywhere else.
Hello! My name is Titus Utecht. My story began here in Fort Wayne where I was born while my father attended seminary. After his graduation, we moved to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where he took a call as a missionary pastor. I grew up there on “the rez,” as it is more commonly called, and my father is still the pastor there today. The church was started a few years before that by my grandfather, who was also a pastor (thus I am seeking to be a third generation pastor!). Aside from the church itself, Grandpa also passed on the tradition of sharing the ministry in creative ways, namely by puppet shows, magic, and juggling. Each summer my family would travel around to various communities on the Reservation (and also to Valentine, NE where my dad also serves as a vacancy pastor) and do VBS, complete with the aforementioned puppets and magic and juggling. We also present the Bible through puppet shows at various other places, such as the South Dakota State Fair!
These puppet shows were an important and fun thing that we did as a family. Our family has five boys (no girls!), of which I am the second. We had many great experiences together as a family, from puppet shows to camping, playing baseball, fishing, cutting wood, building, etc. Through all of this I learned the importance of a loving family.
Amidst all of the joys of growing up with such a wonderful family, being on the rez I saw quite plainly the effects of sin through all of the alcoholism, drugs, gangs, hatred, and idolatry. As Saint Paul exclaims, “Those things result in death!” (Romans 6:21). However, I was also blessed to see the Gospel at work in people’s lives through my father’s efforts there, and how God’s Word can change people’s lives (and ultimately their afterlives!).
After growing up a bit more and getting toward the end of high school, I began to deal with that classic question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” About this time I discovered that I really enjoyed reading the Bible and studying God’s Word, so my natural choice was to be a pastor. With that in mind, I set off for college at Concordia University in Seward, NE and entered the pre-seminary program. Through my experiences and reflections there, I had a bit of a change in the reason I desire to become a pastor. I began to have an eagerness not just to study the Bible, but to share the Bible. A pastor’s job is not just to simply study the Bible and theology, as I wanted (and still want) to do, but to encourage God’s people in his Word, to administer God’s grace in the sacraments, and to reach out to those who do not know Christ. Having come to this simple revelation, I am all the more eager to serve God as a pastor.
However, aside from studying the Bible, God has also granted me to enjoy and excel at studying science. So while I was at Concordia-Seward, I studied and received my undergraduate degree in chemistry. The reason behind this (aside from the fact that I really enjoy chemistry) is that I take a particularly strong interest in issues regarding science and the Bible. Science used to be an area of study that acknowledged God and sought to learn more about him through his creation. Now it has “evolved” to become a discipline cited as evidence against God and even goes so far as to claim to be the only legitimate source of truth. This is more and more a pressing problem for the church. I don’t know exactly how or when, but I hope to be able to use the talents and abilities God has given me in science to glorify God and show that science can never surpass the authority of God’s Word.
Amidst all of my study of God’s Word and God’s World at Seward, I was also blessed to meet the most energetic (very, VERY ENERGETIC!), enthusiastic, adventurous, Godly, loving, caring, and talented girl named Rianne Gross. Somehow she found enough to like in me to marry me and change her name to Rianne Utecht. She has an amazing talent for teaching and is glad to use that in service to God as she teaches 3rd grade at a Lutheran South Unity School in Fort Wayne. We look forward to our upcoming years of service (Lord willing) to God, and are thankful for all of the prayers and support we receive.
My name is Matt Wasmund and along with Dee Dee, my wife, we have two daughters, Lily (8) and Olivia (6). I am originally from Florida, Dee Dee is from Tennessee, and our girls are from Taiwan. We have been married since 2001 and have served as LCMS missionaries in Asia since 2003. The Fall 2013 quarter marked my entrance into studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the culmination of a long process that began when I was a young child. Currently, we are based out of Seoul, South Korea, working in various education and outreach ministries in the East Asia region. The plan is to study in alternating quarters while maintaining ministry responsibilities in that part of the world that we have grown to love. As a family, we enjoy interacting with people of different cultures, seeking new service opportunities, and inviting people over to dinner at our house. We are grateful for the constant support and encouragement we receive from friends and family in this next step of service.
My name is David Weirauch, My family and I are from Wauseon, OH. Our home church is St. Luke Lutheran Church in Wauseon. I have been married to my wife Kaci for 3 years now and we have a son Samuel who is 20 months old. My bachelors degree is in Computer Networking and Technology from Bowling Green State University. I am currently enrolled as a first year seminarian student at the Fort Wayne seminary. My wife Kaci attended Concordia University Chicago and is a rostered Lutheran school teacher. In my spare time I enjoy hunting, hockey, movies, reading, and traveling. My wife and I are passionate about missions and family ministry. We enjoy working together in our ministry and look forward to our education in the pastoral and deaconess programs.
Hello! My name is Aaron Yaeger. Fall 2016 I will be returning from vicarage to Fort Wayne for my fourth year of seminary.
I grew up in Saginaw, MI, and I have three brothers and a sister, all younger. After graduating high school, I attended Grove City College in Grove City, PA, pursuing a BS in Mechanical Engineering, along with a minor in Applied Physics. I started seminary in 2012, where I also met my wife, Diana; we now have three wonderful children.
While I had studied Mechanical Engineering in undergrad, I was unable to find a position that was a good fit. During this time, I was also wrestling with understanding the Gospel and what place it has in the Christian’s life. Having grown up in the Lutheran Church, ironically, it was attending an Anglican church during undergrad that led me back to my Lutheran heritage.
During that time, I came to better understand that the Gospel isn’t only for converting someone into Christianity, but that the Gospel is for Christians, too. And this Gospel is for me! In Christ, God freely forgives me all of my sins and gives me eternal life and salvation. As rudimentary as this may sound, this message is not always proclaimed clearly and joyfully. As I look back on my years growing up, continued preaching of the Gospel to Christians seemed to be lacking (or I managed to ignore it).
While I had heard good, Scriptural, Law-Gospel preaching at the Anglican church, something was still missing: the Sacraments. Certainly, they practiced Baptism and Communion, but these were only seen as symbolic, leaving the Christian to seek assurance of his salvation internally or elsewhere. I knew that the Lutheran Church uniquely taught in accord with Scripture in regard to the Sacraments. It was only once I began studying the Lutheran Confessions that I saw what I had been missing.
This knowledge has increased my zeal for Christ and His gifts, and so, through the program at Concordia Theological Seminary—Fort Wayne, I aim to learn to preach the Word; to learn to apply Law and Gospel to hurting people; to develop gentleness as I speak the truth; to genuinely and humbly care for God’s sheep. I want to share the truth of God’s Word with people in Christ’s love, with patience and perseverance. I want to share the Gospel, especially with those who are under the burden of works righteousness, those who think Christianity is about right behavior and moral living. I want to give Christ Himself to His sheep, so that He will accomplish the work for which I am sent.
Thank you for your support, and may the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
My name is Dwight Wyeth. I am a first year student this year at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. My amazing wife and I are excited to start this new chapter in our lives. We have spent the past year and a half ministering to youth at Mooseheart, specifically being stand in parents for ten girls ages 6-12. This was a challenging and rewarding experience in which we were able to nurture the girls emotionally, bodily, and spiritually. We were married in June of 2013, after I graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in Music Education. I believe God intends to use my musical talents in the church as part of my vocation. In a rare moment of spare time, I can be found listening to music, reading, and playing the trombone. I also enjoy physical activities of all sorts, but especially like tennis and running. I aspire to serve those around me, but especially the Lord. May He bless and keep you.
John David Zischke
My name is JD Zischke and I am a born and raised Texan from San Antonio, TX. I graduated from Concordia University Nebraska in May of 2013 with a BA in Theology and am currently beginning my first year of seminary at Concordia Seminary St. Louis. The beautiful lady standing next to me is my wife, Mikaela (Barz), whom I have been married to for almost two months (we were married July 12, 2013). Five days after our wedding we loaded up our things in a Penske truck and drove 17 hours from San Antonio to the Seminary. We have enjoyed our time here so far with our jobs and the time we have spent with friends exploring and learning about the city of St. Louis. Mikaela is currently a full-time Pre-School Aid at Immanuel Lutheran School, St. Charles, and I work part-time as a Food and Beverage Vendor at Busch Stadium. We are looking forward to the education and formation that I will be receiving at Seminary and are excited to see what the Lord has planned for us. Mikaela also received a BA in Theology while at CUNE and was part of the DCE (Director of Christian Education) program in Seward, with an emphasis in Missions and Outreach. She is currently seeking an internship with church in the St. Louis area in order to complete her certification and become and certified DCE. We have a strong passion for serving people, sharing the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ with people from all areas of life, and we look forward to hopefully serving those in the urban or inner-city areas who may not know Christ. It is sometimes scary not knowing exactly where we will end up or even how we will even be able to afford continuing education at Seminary, but ultimately we know that the Lord has always provided for us and our families and promises to continue to care for His children.