On Call Day, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis students are armed with a folder of information, showing where the church has elected to send them to serve, and a healthy dose of Lutheran teaching. But students say it’s their education and experiences at the Seminary that have sufficiently prepared them for the transition from life as a student to life in the ministry. Hear from four different students and one alumnus about their experiences, their advice for prospective students and their hopes for the future as they serve God’s people.
Originally from St. Louis, fourth-year seminarian Micah Glenn spent his enrichment year at Westfield House, Cambridge, England, and his vicarage at Ascension Lutheran Church in Huntsville, Ala. But he says it was his congregation back at home that helped spark the idea of being a pastor.
“I ended up at Concordia Seminary because people at my home congregation were telling me that they thought that I had gifts for ministry, and I figured that if anybody is going to know what they want in their pastor, it’s going to be parishioners.”
“Eventually I listened to what they were saying
and decided to go for it, and here I am.”
“If I was going to offer any advice for somebody who was thinking about coming to the Seminary, I would say definitely talk to your pastor first and see what he thinks about it.”
Considering the Seminary?
“Come on campus for a visit, stay the night, sit in on a class, talk to a professor, talk to the guys who are already going to school here and just breathe it all in for a couple of days. Then, go home and pray about it and see where it leads you.”
Mollie Schultz, a second-year Deaconess Studies student, is pursuing a dual degree. She is on track to receive her Master of Social Work and Master of Arts with a major in spiritual care and certification through a collaborative program between Concordia Seminary and Saint Louis University.
The Deciding Factor
“It was advice that my friend told me that ultimately made me decide, and that was when she said, ‘The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.’ And so I went.”
“Who a deaconess is really resonated with me.”
Helping a Hurting World
A deaconess “is a holistic caregiver, she is a servant, she is a sharer of mercy because she is an object of mercy. I wanted to learn how to do that, and how to do that for other people.”
Words of Wisdom For Prospective Students
“Pray about it, because ultimately it is God who is going to lead you in your decision.”
Fourth-year seminarian Dave McGinley says thanks to his classes, field work in local congregations and vicarage (or pastoral internship) he feels equipped and enabled for the pastoral office.
“The church I was at really taught me what it looks like to love God’s people well, but also how much God loves me in the process.”
“My favorite class at Concordia Seminary would have to be homiletics class, a preaching class, with Dr. [David] Schmitt. It’s in that class where he taught us about what preaching is and what it’s not, and the beauty or importance of having people experience a message and experience the Gospel.”
Memorable Vicarage Experience
“One of the stories that stands out from my vicarage experience has to do with a guy named Daryl, an outspoken atheist who happened to show up at our church one Sunday morning. Through our conversations and Bible study and through the hearing of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit working in him, he became a Christian and was baptized.”
Ready to Serve
“The last four years have been so important in shaping my understanding of the pastoral office, and [my family and I] are honored, humbled and excited to see what God has in store for us next.”
Rev. Mark Femmel
Rev. Mark Femmel (’06) is now at Zion Lutheran Church, Maryland Heights, Mo., his second call. He says while on-the-job training since his graduation has been beneficial in building his confidence, it was his time at Concordia Seminary that provided a solid base for ministry.
“When I graduated from the Seminary, I wasn’t sure I was going to be ready to be on my own, but before I got here, God was here.”
Answering the Call to Ministry
“Over the course of a week I went from being happy as a math teacher to saying, ‘I don’t know if I have to go to Kenya or South America or go find a desert island somewhere, whatever it takes, I’m going to be a pastor.”
“I have never been outgunned. I have always been prepared for every question. I’ve always been prepared for every situation. You learn that by not having any of the answers when you go to the Seminary. When you go to these classes, God just makes it work out.”
Tough Questions From Parishioners
“Someone is going to see the History Channel special and they’re going to say, ‘Was Jesus really not God? Because this TV show tells us that He was a liar and a manipulator.’ You have got to be ready. Then someone [else] is going to come up to you and say, ‘How do we really know the Bible is the Word of God?’ You have got to be ready for that answer. Then someone is going to come up to you and say, ‘My son is struggling with drugs, what I do?’ You have got to have the answer to that.”
Paul Albers is always on the go. He sings in two choirs, works at the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus and serves as the concluding class president. While he enjoys all of his Seminary activities, he’s even more excited to begin full-time ministry at the end of the school year.
A Family Tradition
“My father is a pastor. My grandfather was a pastor and also my great-grandfather. The church is everything to my family. That is basically where I grew up, and where I will be blessed to serve as a pastor.”
“The Seminary has given me a wide range of skills and knowledge that I didn’t have.”
Life at the Sem
“It’s great. The classes and course work have helped give me confidence in preaching and leading worship. But also it’s been a very strong community of professors, classmates and pastors that I know I can go to and ask for help and advice as I continue to learn and gather my own experience.”
Ready For The Call
“God certainly knew where He was sending me for vicarage, and I trust that He will do the same thing on Call Day. The Seminary has done a great job of placing students in churches, and I’m trusting the Seminary, but trusting mostly God that the Holy Spirit is in this process.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 Concordia Seminary magazine.
Kendra Whittle is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis