Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings from Concordia Seminary and the end of the Spring 2010 quarter. That is right, I have officially completed my first year of studies at seminary. This quarter presented a foretaste of quarters to come. This quarter presented a multitude of experiences that assisted in my continued formation in pastoral ministry. Lutheran Senior Services, Call Day, Commencement Day, CTSFW Student Association visit, CSL Student Elections, Licensure service, and many hours of reading and learning are some of the highlights of this quarter.
This quarter started with a different feel, namely because I had completed my language requirements. This quarter offered a new challenge of taking 6 different classes from 6 different instructors as opposed to being in class with just one instructor for 3 hours a day and another 1 hour twice a week. These classes provided numerous opportunities for me to read, listen to lectures/podcasts, and the writing of papers based on that knowledge in regards to various case studies. I seemed to have found a niche of explaining the material learned and applying it to real life situations. Each of the courses of this past quarter offered a deeper reflection on the Lutheran mindset, the Theology of Worship, the foundation of Pastoral Ministry, and the beginning of Historical Theology of the church. I continued to be blessed by the teaching of my instructors who lectured, challenged, and nurtured the different viewpoints of my classmates. My courses for this past quarter were Lutheran Mind (Dr. Kolb and Sanchez), Pastoral Ministry (Dr. Utecht), Intro to Historical Theology (Dr. Dost), Worship (Dr. Brauer), Hebrew Readings (Dr. Saleska), and New Testament Lectionary (Dr. Brighton). This quarter was overall great, but it was also the busiest quarter I have had thus far. It felt like I was constantly writing papers, reading, working, in meetings, spending time with family, or in deep meditation about the past, present, and future. I wonder when I will experience this in the ministry. Just kidding J
The second week of the quarter, Concordia Theological Seminary’s Student Association ventured down to CSL for our second meeting of the year for joint Student Leadership meetings. Again we discussed the future of the LCMS, improving on the seminary residential program, and the unity of the two seminaries. We all met with Director of Pastoral Education for the LCMS. We conducted a demonstration on the different types of Lutheran churches in different contexts Two of those different contexts were, Crave (a coffee shop ministry) and Bethlehem Lutheran Church. We visited Bethlehem Lutheran in inner Saint Louis and listened to the work they were doing in their area to grow the church and re-educate the community. Our focus was to not fall into the same arguments that have plagued the seminaries for years, but concentrate on the servant focus of the ministry. Our hope is this last meeting has challenged ourselves and our brothers in Fort Wayne to prepare themselves to not only shepherd God’s sheep in their church, but go out and seek his lost sheep where they are dwelling. When I last wrote you, I was discerning whether to run for Student Association Vice President for next year. After much prayer, I decided to run and received the backing of the seminary community. I now write as the Vice President of Student Association for the 2010-2011 academic year. I have begun my duties by heading up the Kingdom Movers group and Mentoring Ministry on campus. The Kingdom Movers is the organizing of the seminary community to assist in the moving in and out of the students throughout the year. The Mentor Ministry (formerly known as Big Brother) program is to assist the students in the seminary community to foster accountability, help with transitioning into seminary life, and provide an ear to listen and/or offer advice when the opportunity presents itself.
During our initial two years of formation we are required to experience the ministry outside of our Field church through two modules: Institutional and Cross-Cultural. This past quarter I chose to do my institutional at Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs in Ballwin, MO. I assisted with worship on Communion/Feast Sundays and did junior chaplain visits with the residents throughout the week. My supervisor was the Rev. Keith Weise. It was a very humbling experience to serve at LSS. It is here we are reminded how frail our bodies are and how they eventually begin to fail us. Yet, this institutional also provided the listening of stories of life, family, and vocations. While the body may fail us, the spirit within it remains strong and from what I have witnessed in life and at LSS never falters in its allegiance to our Lord. I have just signed up to complete my second module (Cross-Cultural) at World Impact in downtown St. Louis. They are an organization to looks to use basketball and athletic events to share the Word of God with the poor, homeless, etc… I will let you know how that goes throughout the summer.
Late April and early May, I was privileged to be the crucifer for the Vicarage Placement, Ascension Service, and both Commencement services. I cannot explain the honor it was to lead my fellow seminarians in and out of these services as they received their vicarage/call assignments, certification to become LCMS pastors, and Masters of Divinity. It is the realization that these men and their families that have been here to transition my family and I the past year are heading out into the parish to do battle with Satan, feed God’s sheep, and search for His lost sheep. Feelings of sorrow wash away with a sense of joy because I know their path and their calling. Now, there is a realization the circle of seminary continues and it is now my duty to not only be formed, but to assist in the transition of the new enlistees in the ministry.
I am slated to write an ongoing article for our Student Publication, Around the Tower, called Lessons Learned. It will be focused on abstract lessons learned from seminary. My first article was called, “The Art of Saying Goodbye”. I will begin my summer classes on June 7th. I will be taking Hermeneutics (3crs), Confessions I (3crs) and Confessions II (3crs). See, I told you it was a busy quarter.
The family is doing great as well. The children are finishing their first year at Captain Elementary nearby campus. The children have had a ball this year and cannot wait until their classes end the first week of June. Linda has taken a new position for the Seminary Women’s Association as Publications Director. She is also saying goodbye to the children she has watched since August as both their families are headed out on vicarage this upcoming school year in Michigan and California. As of late, my future is starting to fall into place and I am now discerning whether to add a 5th year of seminary to complete a Masters of Sacred Theology (STM). Please pray for my family and me as we discern this decision.
In His Grace, Mercy, and Peace,
Eric and Family