This year, Concordia Seminary created new part-time positions to aid the Seminary in recruiting students throughout the country. These Student Recruitment Ambassadors (SRAs) aim to build relationships with prospective students near where they live and work, and help them discern whether ministry and Concordia Seminary should be part of their future.
Rev. Noah Kegley
Associate Pastor, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, West Allis, Wis.
Your background: “I was born and raised in Grafton, Wis., and my parents, friends and mentors showed me the love of Jesus and I wanted to be like them when I grew up!”
Highlight from Seminary: “Taking a class that allowed me to study in Israel for two weeks. I also loved building relationships with my Adopt-A-Student congregations.”
Why become an SRA: “I chose to be an SRA to help God’s kingdom to grow in America as our world continues to transition deeper into a post-church culture.”
Advice for prospective students: “Soak it up! Seminary will challenge you intellectually and shape your mind to engage the mission field for 21st century ministry. You also will meet friends in ministry who will walk by your side for the rest of your life.”
Rev. Will Hanke
Pastor, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church and Preschool, Brentwood, Mo.
Background: “By the age of 10, I had people telling me I should be a pastor, and by age 13 I had made that the plan for my life. I love finding creative ways to share the Gospel of Jesus.”
Highlight: “Seminary was a blast! I enjoyed the brotherhood, and loved playing sports and talking theology with my friends. I built lifelong friendships in Seminary.”
Why SRA: “I love the place I serve but hurt for vacant churches. This opportunity allows me to be a part of the solution to fill those vacant churches with passionate workers who love Jesus.”
Advice: “Listen to those who are encouraging you to come to Seminary and ask them questions. Ask them why they think you should be a pastor, what qualities do they see, etc.”
Rev. Christopher Bodley
Director, Acts 2 Enterprise and Missionary At-Large, Detroit, Mich.
Background: “I have pastored a church in Orlando for 14 years, planted a multiethnic church in Sanford, Fla., and served as a United States Navy chaplain for 12 years.”
Highlight: “I was greatly impacted by Dr. Robert Newton in a spiritual formation class in my fourth year. Dr. Newton’s insights and Christ-like character have influenced how I understand character and leadership development through the lens of biblical theology.”
Why SRA: “We need to identify potential leaders who possess a deep love of God and God’s Word and who will embrace cultural competency in order to be effective as an ambassador for the kingdom of God.”
Advice: “Invest heavily in reading and memorizing the Word of God so that your academics may deeply complement your educational development.”
Deaconess Kristina Paul
Director of Care and Women’s Ministries, Salem Lutheran Church and School, Affton, Mo.
Background: “During college I realized I had deep questions about my faith, ones that couldn’t fit on a trivia card, so God led me to pursue answers to those questions at the Sem, and from there, to become a deaconess in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”
Highlight: “I was able to walk through that time with an amazing cohort of sister and brother students, and those shared experiences, both the struggles and joys, were deeply meaningful.”
Why SRA: “There were both women and men who took the extra time to help me discern the next right steps in preparing for ministry, and I sincerely hope I am able to do the same for members of the next generation of deaconesses.”
Advice: “Pray — both alone and alongside others — trusted mentors, family members and believers. (Also, get the reading lists early if you can.)”
Rev. Dawit (David) Bokre
Senior Pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Hayward, Calif., and Director of Mission, LINC Bay Area, Calif.
Background: “I was born in Asmera, Eritrea (East Africa). My parents showed me firsthand what it meant to be loved by Jesus. They passed away before I turned 13, but they planted the seed, they showed me the ‘way,’ they fought a good fight.”
Highlight: “I grew up in a ‘high church’ with the same liturgy but a different language, and it was just beautiful to experience it in English and to have communion with saints who don’t look like me but are one with me through Christ.”
Why SRA: “Matt. 9:37, ‘the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few,’ is what my mother had me memorize before I turned 8. Now I have an opportunity to do that alongside other saints and a clear strategic direction.”
Advice: “We are not perfect, but you will learn what it means to center everything in the risen Christ.”
Rev. Warren Lattimore
Pastor, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, New Orleans, La., and President, LCMS Black Clergy Caucus
Background: “Born in Chicago, I am the son of a Chicago Transit Authority comptroller and a farmer’s daughter who became an occupational therapy assistant. I left home to go to Pearson College in Canada only to return and attend the University of Chicago, learning what it means to love God with all my heart, soul and mind.”
Highlight: “Going down to Kaldi’s with four or five classmates and supporting one another in brotherly love.”
Why SRA: “Because ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’ Dr. Rosa Young placed a premium on education and recruitment. To follow in her footsteps, I hope to do the same.”
Advice: “Examine yourself. Make sure you are coming for the right reasons. Through the lens of vocation, we are to be anchored in our love of neighbor and faith in God.”
Rev. Matt Peeples
Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Ridgewood, N.J., and Founder/Director, The Kairos Network
Background: “I grew up all over but spent most of my time in Kansas City where I got connected with an amazing local church.”
Highlight: “I had an amazing group of friends who loved to get off campus and be in the community, an incredible field work pastor who taught me how to do ministry in a way that would connect with the lost and found, and amazing professors who saw gifts in me before I could see them myself.”
Why SRA: “Concordia Seminary gave me a theological toolbox to launch ministries and contextualize the Gospel in my community. I get excited about connecting others to that level of training.”
Advice: “Ministry looks a little different in every context. Don’t look for a place that is going to give you a one-size-fits-all solution.”
Rev. Germán Novelli Jr.
Pastor, Grace Ev. Lutheran Church (Comunidad de Gracia), Milwaukee, Wis., and President, VII Hispanic National Convention and Hispanic Missionary League
Background: “I was born and raised in Venezuela, and I came to the United States in 2012 to begin my ministry at Grace.”
Highlight: “I think my Seminary experience was unique, with three programs involved [Specific Ministry Pastor Program, Center for Hispanic Studies and Master of Divinity Program]. The Seminary is one of the greatest blessings I have in my life.”
Why SRA: “I believe we need more Hispanic and bilingual servants in the church. This will strengthen our Latino ministries and will make our church more diverse.”
Advice: “‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain’ (1 Cor. 15:58 ESV). God can do great things through us, His servants!”