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117 Youth Explore Church Careers

A total of 117 Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS) high school youth from all parts of the United States attended the Aug. 7-10 Exploring Church Careers Event (ECCE) on the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis campus.

The retreat, designed to inform and encourage youth with respect to church work careers, included Bible study, presentations by recognized leaders in youth ministry and on-site visitation opportunities featuring a wide variety of church career professionals. “The program allowed youth to see the many ways God can use the gifts He has given them to serve Him in a church work career,” said Rev. Glen Thomas, Vice President for Seminary Relations at Concordia Seminary.

Admission representatives from nine of the 10 Concordia University System schools and Valparaiso University also were present to inform youth concerning the programs of preparation available to serve in a church career. The admission representatives served as small group leaders and offered a college information fair on the last evening of the event which was very popular with participants.

Evaluation forms completed by the 117 youth following the ECCE indicate that the event was successful and accomplished its purpose. “Many youth indicated a greater desire to serve in a church career as they contrasted their thoughts prior to the ECCE with those they had after the event,” commented Thomas.

One participant wrote, “It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot I never knew before. The staff that led the groups and Bible studies was very good. It was awesome!” Another participant commented, “It was a great experience to meet new people and better understand the careers. I really liked it and hope I can do something constructive with my future.” Still another participant stated, “I loved everything about this trip. I loved meeting new people. It was such a wonderful and uplifting experience!”

The ECCE received an overwhelming response from the church and will be offered again in 2000 and 2001. “Approximately 350 nominations and more than 125 registrations were received,” indicated Thomas. “I want to thank the pastors, parents and others in the church who nominated youth to attend this event. We were overwhelmed with the response.”

Concordia Seminary worked with Rev. Terry Dittmer, associate director of the LCMS Department of Youth Ministry, in designing the overall effort. Rev. Darrell Zimmerman, pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Brentwood, Mo., and a recognized leader in youth ministry, was also involved in the program, as was Deaconess Natalie Watt of St. John Lutheran Church, Warrenton, Mo.

The ECCE was made possible by a $150,000 grant Concordia Seminary received to assist in the process of identifying, informing and encouraging high school youth toward service in church work careers. The grant is from Lilly Endowment Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. “This grant allows us to address the declining numbers of students who are preparing to serve as pastors, teachers, directors of Christian education and other church career positions,” said Thomas. “Everyone who has watched the shortages in these vocations increase over recent years is alarmed. We plan to hold an ECCE for at least the next two years to assist our church in addressing this trend.”

For more information, contact the Admissions Office, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105; or by e-mail (ECCEvent@aol.com); or by calling 314-505-7722.