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Rev. Clint Magnus

When I got out of high school I went into the construction trades. Eventually I started my own company and ran it for 18 years in the Calgary area. At the tender age of 42, the Gospel of salvation in Christ convinced me to stop working for myself and to spend the rest of my life serving the Lord. With the total support of my wife Joyce and our 6 teenage children we sold our acreage and our business and moved north to Edmonton to go to seminary. It wasn’t easy going back to school after all those years, but the Lord got us through it financially and academically and I have now been the pastor in Kitimat, BC for 8 years where we have also started a new congregation in the neighboring community of Terrace, BC. Sometimes the obstacles look too large for us but “With God nothing is impossible”.

-Rev. Clint Magnus (CLS ’09)

 

Jennifer Frim

God’s call comes in many different ways and sometimes (or often?) it comes when you least expect it. It has a way of sneaking up on you. At least, that’s how I see it working in my life. I grew up in the church, but our family wasn’t terribly active, especially prior to my confirmation years. Nevertheless, I always found the church a welcoming and safe place to be in the midst of a somewhat tumultuous life. As I got involved in things in my own right as a tween and teen, I began not only to learn more about my own faith, but also the Holy Spirit began working in me, preparing me for life as a full-time deacon.

The first time I heard about the Director of Parish Services program, it was from a Concordia University College student ambassador who was speaking at a youth retreat that I was attending. She told us about Concordia and how she wanted to serve God full-time as a DPS. I distinctly remember thinking that was a totally dumb idea! I didn’t know any churches that had such workers and my perception at the wise age of 13 was that there would be no job for her. I did like the t-shirt I won from her, though!

Over the next several years as I taught Sunday school, got more involved in our youth group and grew in faith, a few other nudges from the Holy Spirit brought me closer to where I am today. I heard more about Concordia. The Concert Choir visited our church and we took a couple of girls home as billets. A Concordia recruitment rep travelled through our area and contacted me to see if I’d like to meet with her. Someone in my church submitted my name to the “potential church work candidates” program, called “RSVP” which ran in the church for a few years in the 1990s. My pastor talked to me about the options. All this time, I wanted to be a teacher and so I was very interested in the Lutheran Teacher program. God, on the other hand, had very different plans!

In grade 12 math class (of all places!) we were assigned a career exploration project. Some people had mentioned DPS work to me along the way and I decided that I should look into it a little more. That is the career I explored for my project. At this point I had already decided that I would start off attending one of the local universities in Winnipeg and maybe transfer to Concordia for teaching later on. I wasn’t terribly interested in DPS work, but thought I should learn about it anyway. I was able to talk to a local woman who essentially volunteered full-time in one of our local churches and through my conversation with her, and a lot of Holy Spirit work, I decided that I actually really liked the DPS idea. I wanted to teach…but what I wanted to teach was the Bible and the faith. No wonder I could never decide what subject area I wanted to specialize in as a school teacher!

That winter, I happened to be offered a free trip to Concordia to check out its campus the one and only year they paid for students to come in. It was the clincher! I loved the campus, the people and the program. This all happened in March…rather late in the year for deciding about inter-provincial moves and university applications, but God wanted me there. I am convinced of it. He provided the money. He provided the support of my parents. He provided the peace of mind that I needed to make that move and I never have regretted it.

Through my courses, I discovered things about God and the Bible that I had never known before. I grew in faith and in my love of learning and teaching. I was placed on internship in Fisherville, Ontario in 2003 and served there until 2009 when God called me again. This time, He called me back to school, to learn more and to prepare to do more teaching. The love for teaching and congregational work that God instilled in me led me to earn a Master of Arts in Biblical and Christian Studies in 2011. This would allow me to be a better teacher of the faith. It also led me to serve at Riverbend Lutheran in Edmonton part-time while in school. It led me to a part-time teaching position at Concordia University College in 2011. It led me to follow God’s call back to Ontario to begin PhD studies which I am now nearly half complete. It led me to Prince of Peace Lutheran in Burlington and St. Peter’s Lutheran in Simcoe where I have served part-time and as a volunteer in various ways. It led me to be appointed as Coordinator of Applied Religion at Concordia in the summer of 2013 where I now administer and teach part-time in the church work programs and religious studies program part time while still doing PhD studies.

Looking back, this has been a crazy journey. If you would have asked me at the age of 18, when I began to follow God’s call down this path, “What do you think you’ll be doing in 14 years?” I would never have guessed the half of it. But I know that God has called me to where I am and will continue to lead me. The unprecedented opportunities, financial and prayer support and adopted “family” I’ve found all across this country could not have been by accident. Only God’s call through the power of His Holy Spirit could have brought me here and I see His provision for me and His church within it every day. I know God was calling me and is still calling me. I’m so glad I followed.

Where might God be calling you? Even if it seems crazy, know that He will provide exactly what you need if that is where He wants you to go.

Rev. Darren Siegle

My journey into Pastoral Ministry began as a direct result of what my parents did with me when I was 18 days old. They brought me to the baptismal font at Grace Lutheran Church in Edmonton, where the late Pastor George Rode applied the water and the Word of Holy Baptism.

Faith was created within me at that time, to where I can say I never remember a time when I did not believe in God. In fact, as a small boy, learning about this faith, I knew God was at the center of my life.

As I grew older, God sent to my school Christian friends. They were legalistic, and doubted that I would be saved since I didn’t live up to the same standards as they did.
This concerned me. Did I have to embrace a multitude of rules too if I was to be saved? Was my soul in jeopardy?

I thought not, but still, God gave me the desire to want to study the matter. Where? How? For me, the obvious answer was Concordia College (now C.U.C.A.). I am one for whom attending Concordia was very convenient. I loved studying theology, especially learning that Martin Luther’s struggles were not unlike my own.

Initially I wasn’t sure about being a pastor, since I questioned if I was cut out for it. Still, it seemed like a good idea to consider this vocation. I am thankful for the full encouragement of my family that was behind me, whether I became a pastor or not. Doors opening and closing were continuing to lead me to Concordia Lutheran Seminary, just across the street.

At both the college and seminary, professors and fellow students affirmed me in the direction I was going, as were people from my congregation, including Pastor Carl Wolski. After my first and second years, I was employed at Jackfish Lutheran Camp in Roblin, MB. This included a lot of supply preaching for local pastors on vacation. I was married after my 2nd year, and was assigned to be a vicar in Regina. This year caused many theological questions to arise, and I looked forward to my fourth year, when I returned to look more deeply into many matters.

Finally, not yet 26 years of age, I graduated, and was assigned to my first parish, in MB. I continue to love the opportunities that pastoral ministry provides to learn more theology, and teach it, often in very practical ways, in the congregations God has given me the privilege to serve. I love emphasizing how we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone.

I also greatly enjoy being with the people of all ages and backgrounds, and sharing their lives. I seek to provide a listening ear. Challenges have arisen too, and for these I am thankful, for in passing through them, there is great growth. I’ve prayed the “Serenity Prayer” often as I, like you, keep seeking God’s direction.

Rev. Mark Ruf

Perhaps because I grew up in a parsonage, I had no intention of ever entering the ministry.  Not that I harboured any negative feelings toward the church; the tasks of ministry simply seemed too overwhelming, and the prospect of a somewhat “public” life was unappealing.  At the same time, I felt strongly about the responsibility that both the local congregation and the church at large had been given under the Great Commission.  Christ had done such great things for me – I had to respond.  So, I remained active in my local congregation:  teaching, leading various groups, sitting on boards, supporting the congregation’s activities.  Slowly, I began to appreciate how the people with whom I worked were motivated by genuine gratitude to God and served to simply give back to Him.  They were most “at home” when serving their Lord.  Still, I was not ready for a life in public ministry.  I was extremely nervous at the thought of leading worship – of preparing SERMONS week after week!  I remained uncomfortable with the thought of being the individual that was front and center in many congregational activities.  I did not think myself qualified for the office of the ministry.  I wanted to live a life that offered service to God, but how?

Growing up in Vancouver, I loved the mountains, the ocean, and all the activities they offered.  So I began preparing for a career that would allow me to pursue the stewardship and management of such resources.  I entered UBC with the goal of a degree in Resource Management.  Those were good years.  Still, as I neared the half-way mark of my five-year program, I was unsettled.  I truly enjoyed what I was studying, and the people with whom I worked, but our studies and work simply did not “fit” me the way it fit my peers.  One day, after I explained this to a close friend, she asked me outright:  “Have you ever thought about ministry?” I could not honestly say I had thought it through – prayerfully – and had legitimately dismissed it, so now I had to do just that:  think and pray!

One thing led to another as, through conversations with my parents and Christian friends, I began to realize that my concerns with ministry were not centered on the tasks of ministry itself, but on me and my own perception of my personal weaknesses.  I began to realize that one of the blessings of ministry, and of Christian life in general, is to be led to know the truth of what St. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10:  “…for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Church work was not about me, but about Christ and the Word being at work – just as is promised.

I contacted Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton – then a very new institution – and was surprised at how willing the faculty was to help me understand the prerequisites I would have to pick up prior to applying for seminary entrance.  I would not have to start from scratch as I feared, but could finish my degree at UBC and gain the courses required through electives and one year of summer sessions.  So I became the only person in UBC’s Forestry library who was studying Biblical Hebrew!  At least to the best of my knowledge!  Seminary was challenging intellectually, financially, and physically.  The hours of study were long.  But this was now a true vocation – the challenges set before us in class and field work had a purpose.  The support of the Edmonton Lutheran community was a real blessing.  The seminary community was tight-knit and my field work congregation truly became family over those years.  Along with the work, there was a great deal of laughter and fun.

God provided for me, too, in terms of the concerns I had over public speaking and teaching.  Through exposure to field work experiences and class work I began to realize that God would provide in these areas as well.  I remember reading an article in Leadership Magazine.  It was an interview of two individuals considered effective Christian speakers.  Both offered valuable insights, but what impacted me the most were these words,

“Before I preach a sermon, I ask myself two questions:  Do I believe that what I have to say is Biblically true?  Do I believe that these people need to hear it?

If I answer “yes” to these two questions, I tell myself that I’d better say it!”

That’s pretty simple, but in a way, so is our task.  Speak the Word and strive to model a life that does not show perfection, but joy in Christ’s forgiveness – a life of service rendered out of gratitude, not compulsion.  Amid all the complexities of life in this sin-impacted world, the task of the Church is really quite clear: point to Christ, not to ourselves.  I’ve remembered that often over the years, and it has been a blessing to do so.  I’ve been taught more and more how reliant we are upon our Lord and how reliable He is.   I’ve been privileged to be a part of peoples’ lives in their joys and their sorrows.  I’ve been able to laugh with them as we serve the Lord together.  It has been an honour and a privilege.

Rev. William R. A. Ney

I began thinking about the Holy Ministry when I was in Grade 5 and asked by my teacher to write a speech on what I wanted to be when I grew up. After talking it over with my parents who suggested the ministry among several other options, I decided to write the speech on becoming a Lutheran Pastor. I won a competition in my school, and from that point on set my sights on becoming a Pastor. Along the way, especially during my Confirmation Instruction my Pastor, Rev. Phil Fiess, strongly encouraged me to attend Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Michigan and to prepare for the ministry. Other Pastors and Vicars that followed Rev. Fiess also provided lots of encouragement.

Other concerns of a worldly nature, like making money, sought to derail my studies but by God’s grace and blessing I completed my studies and entered the Holy Ministry in 1973.

God gave me a deep burning in my heart for the unchurched…unbelievers… and so I have always been very much “mission-minded”. Life experiences working at Kroehler Furniture Mfg. Co, the Canadian National Railway, cleaning offices, Night Manager at a Restaurant and even working at a Dairy Queen in Stratford, Ontario all helped me to grow in my understanding of people, of human nature and was enabled to see first-hand how the average person in his or her life absolutely needs Jesus Christ, not just a knowledge that there is a God. Attending the Seminary, for me, it was like being in heaven already. The Professors, the students, the learning and the growth in spirituality all made it difficult to leave and go out into the Mission Field…into the world.
At the Seminary God always provided the funds that I needed for school and living expenses, even after Diane and I were married in 1970. The Ontario District provided a scholarship that covered most of the Tuition, Diane worked at a Day Care and I did some part time work doing tune-ups, break jobs, engine rebuilds etc. on faculty and student vehicles.

My greatest fears were that I would not have the scholastic ability to complete the preparation work at the Seminary since it required so much memorization, intellectual ability, time and effort. I also initially worried about having the funds, not wanting to leave the Seminary with debt. But God provided for all of this in amazing ways, even leading individuals to provide small cheques at times when we were broke. We always had enough money for food and rent and for gas to get us to the churches that we were assigned to for Field Work experience and exited the Seminary with no debt.

Although the ministry over 40 years now has been full of huge challenges, Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Lord has provided for all that I needed intellectually, spiritually and materially to do the work required of me and live comfortably. There are no words to describe the joy of watching children come to faith (including my own son and daughter) or be strengthened in their faith through Confirmation Instruction, or to see adults grow in their faith and trust in God through regular Bible study and worship.

But the greatest joys have been on the mission field! There I witnessed God fulfilling His promise that His Word would not return empty but would accomplish that for which He sends it. There on the Mission Field in Russia, Ukraine, Thailand and northern Canada I personally saw with my own eyes literal miracles as God provided all that I needed in order to bring His Gospel to those people and as God provided for people’s greatest need, to know Christ Jesus as their Saviour. No greater joy can be imagined than to see a person, struggling with little or no faith, respond to the Holy Spirit’s urging through the proclamation of the Gospel, with a commitment to love and honour God with his or her life and to trust in Jesus Christ alone for his or her salvation.

I cannot conceive of another occupation that is more fulfilling and spiritually strengthening or more of a blessing than that of the Office of the Holy Ministry despite its many challenges and opposition by the “old evil foe”. I look forward to continue serving Christ and His people until the day God calls me to my heavenly home which Jesus purchased and won for me with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. There simply is not a more fulfilling calling or rewarding job on earth than that of Pastor/Missionary for Christ.

Vicar Aaron Astley

As a pastor’s kid there were always people telling me that I should become a pastor when I grow up just like my dad. Because I have a stubborn personality and don’t like people telling me what to do I quickly dismissed the possibility that I could ever be a pastor. I worked hard to convince myself and everyone else who suggested it that being a pastor was not an option for me. I hated public speaking, it terrified me, and so there was no way I could do that job.
But as I went off to the University of Alberta to study to be a teacher the inkling that maybe I should go to seminary never really left me. The farther I got into my degree the more I realized that being a teacher wasn’t for me and that God may be calling me in a different direction.
I was still terrified of the prospect of going to seminary and possibly becoming a pastor, but God worked in wonderful ways to encourage me and guide me to where I am today. While I was in university my wife Leah and I began dating and got married. She was a huge support and encouragement for me as I faced all of these unknowns and big decisions. I also had many family members who were quick to encourage me and give me guidance along the way. God has blessed me in many ways with a wonderfully supportive family.
Most importantly though, I was reminded of our Heavenly Father’s words to Joshua as he assumed leadership over the Israelites after Moses died. The LORD said to Joshua, “have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Joshua was called to an overwhelming task, leading God’s people into the Promised Land, but God promised to be with him in His Word and to strengthen him. The important thing was what God would do through Joshua, not what Joshua could or could not do.
I took comfort from this knowing that if God was calling me to serve His people as a pastor that He would equip me for this task. I can see many reasons why I am not qualified for this kind of work, but my abilities are not important. Instead the focus is on what God is doing for His people. I am only through two years of seminary, but I have seen many ways that God has given me the ability to do what is required. The task of preaching, which once terrified me, has become one of my greatest joys in this work. On vicarage I now have the joy of serving a wonderful little congregation that continually supports me and encourages me in my growth.
There are many obstacles that appear as one considers going to seminary and the possibility of becoming a pastor. Do I have the skills that are required? Can I afford four more years of schooling? What about my family? And the list goes on and on, but God works through the seminary to meet these needs. Financial assistance from districts and the seminaries helps to lessen the burden of tuition and book costs, the seminary community and families encourage one another through what can be difficult times. But most importantly, God works through the seminaries to equip men to serve in the ministry. Although I did not think that I was up to this task God works in wonderful ways to equip men for this work.
The road to and through seminary is not an easy one, but it is a wonderful blessing to be given the chance to proclaim Christ, His death, and His resurrection to God’s people.

Miriam Winstanley

It was interesting that as the daughter of a pastor, church work was not really on the list of things I wanted to do when I grew up. I was pretty single-minded about wanting to be a social worker, and I was privileged to work in that vocation for nearly 20 years. I had the blessing of being raised by faithful Christian parents who brought me to worship and Sunday School, taught me to love God’s Word and my catechism, and modeled to me service in Christ’s Church. I was able to be active in whatever congregation I was a part of – serving as organist, Sunday School teacher, choir director, board member and chair – and in every role there was someone, whether it was pastor or lay person, to offer encouragement and training. I learned early on about some of the joys and struggles of serving in the church.

In 1999 I accepted a full-time position at Prince of Peace Village, but it wasn’t until the principal of the school, and later my pastor, spoke with me about the possibility of training to become a deaconess that the idea of full-time church work became real to me (up to then I had only ever thought of Lutheran teacher as an option, and somehow that idea never took hold). Even then, the application for colloquy sat on my dresser for about 2 years before it was submitted. Was I too old? How would I manage the course work if I couldn’t be on campus? What about my family (my husband owns a small business and my three children were still in school)? Could we afford the tuition?

Even with all the questions, the desire to pursue church work did not abate, and my husband and children were supportive. I tested the waters by doing the first course (Old Testament) by correspondence with Concordia University River Forest in 2002-2003. New Testament followed, and I could see God at work making a way for this to be done. I submitted the colloquy application while I was completing my third correspondence course, was accepted, worked out with Dr. Paul Schoepp what courses had yet to be completed, and over the next 4 years, took one course a semester. All but one could be done through Concordia University College Alberta in hybrid delivery (that meant that I could do them from Calgary). I commuted to Edmonton weekly for one course. During this time, I was able to work as Secretary and Music Assistant at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, where I was now a member. The congregation and its pastors supported my studies, and encouraged me on this path.

The next hurdle was internship. I was anxious about the possibility of being separated from my family during that year, but blessedly, I was placed at Foothills Lutheran in Calgary. There was the same anxiety about my first assignment, but I was privileged to be able to continue to serve at Foothills. In the end, my Lord graciously answered every question and concern for both myself and my family.

It has been three years since I was placed as DPS at Foothills. My primary role is in the area of Children and Family Ministry. What a privilege it is to encourage parents in their God-given role of nurturing the faith planted in their children in Holy Baptism, and what a joy it is to see those children grow in Christ. How wonderful to work with committed volunteers in our Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and to see them grow right alongside of their young students. Our God is gracious and merciful, and in spite of my failings, sees that His work is accomplished for the sake of His beloved. I give thanks every day that He has made me part of that work.


Margaret Towriss

My Amazing Journey as a Lutheran School Teacher

Whether I knew it or not, my life’s journey was totally directed and under God’s control. I was born into a Christian family. My father was a Lutheran pastor and I attended a Lutheran Elementary School until high school. During my high school years there were two main streams of career opportunities. One stream was to go to university to become a teacher or a nurse, the other was to go into the business field. Nursing was my career choice right up to the time of my high school graduation. During the summer I changed my mind about nursing and chose instead to become a teacher. I registered (rather late, I might add) at Concordia College at Edmonton, Alberta and miraculously I was accepted. I don’t remember that I had thought about being a teacher before that at all.

I also do not recall any one really encouraging me to become a teacher, but looking back I see how God and the people around me certainly provided many opportunities for me to appreciate learning and engage in teaching experiences. I learned a lot from my father, a Lutheran pastor and teacher. He was my grade school teacher from grade one – to grade three. He taught students from grade one to eight in a one room school (the church on Sunday) at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Brightview, (Usona) Alberta. I saw how he cared deeply for each child and their families always demonstrating the love of God, I saw him engage students of different ages and interests with many creative teaching techniques such as open-ended learning, story-telling, hands on experiences (which I remember to this day) etc. Two years before I had to take confirmation class I sat in on his confirmation lessons because I loved the way he told stories, the way he used illustrations to help kids understand the Word of God and the way he encouraged his students to get excited about learning. After I was confirmed I taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, helped with Christmas Eve Sunday School programs, attended youth group, played the piano and organ for church services etc. I was a sponge taking in God’s greatness daily. At the time I didn’t know and I didn’t appreciate the many ways I was being prepared for my life as God’s servant.

Once I was accepted into Concordia College, Edmonton, Alberta my studies and path changed to becoming a Lutheran School teacher. I attended Concordia College one year (1960-61) and then transferred to Concordia Teachers College, Seward, Nebraska, from which I graduated in 1964. I found the college in Nebraska to be an excellent school of learning. Besides helping me gain both spiritual and earthly knowledge I also learned many practical teaching techniques and had an excellent practicum experience in Salem Lutheran School, Saint Louis, Missouri.

Most of my experiences and memories of schooling before receiving my degree from Seward are wonderful to recall. Yes, I was far away from home, and yes I was living in a foreign country, and yes the Canadian dollar was not highly valued, schooling was expensive and my parents and family gave up a lot for me to attend school but God walked with us and provided. The pros out weighed the cons. I gained so much insight into the American way of life. I have friends throughout the US, and had many positive learning experiences from the conferences and conventions of the Lutheran Education Association in the USA, (an older and more established organization).

After graduation in 1964 I taught grade one in Holy Cross Lutheran School, Collinsville, Illinois for three years. Wages were not that great – about $325.00 a month so during the summer months I went home to work at the Dominion Glass Company, Redcliff, Alberta. In 1966 I married Ron Towriss who at the time was attending Concordia Lutheran Seminary, St. Louis. During the summer months Ron worked to help us make ends meet. We spent two more years in the US so Ron could finish his schooling to become a pastor and I taught in the public school system. In the summer of 1969 we were called to serve the Swift Current Area Parish, Swift Current, and Saskatchewan. While in Swift Current I continued serving the Lord in the church but not in the classroom. In 1986 we moved to Port Coquitlam, BC where I began taking correspondence courses in Early Childhood Education so I could perhaps? someday? open a Lutheran preschool.

My life changed dramatically, however, after I received a call in 1989 to teach kindergarten at Zion Lutheran School, Cloverdale, BC. It was a “God Thing” that took me back to teaching. I had other plans for my life at that time and this was not part of them. I had a lot of reasons why I couldn’t accept the call. I didn’t want to drive so far in the winter, I hadn’t taught for twenty years etc. etc. but after much time in prayer and discussion with others I finally accepted the call to Zion where I taught for seven years. The years I taught at Zion were amazing and very fulfilling. I was back where I belonged. I was in the classroom being challenged and spiritually refreshed daily by the lives of His little children. Still to this day I recall little Russell bouncing into the classroom on a cold rainy morning telling me that it was pretty cold and wet outside, but “Oh well.” He said, “It’s just God, changing the seasons.” How nice to be reminded of that!

God continued preparing me for another step in my journey. In 1996 I was called to be principal and teacher of Hope Lutheran School, Port Coquitlam, BC. Of course this was not in my life plan. Why would I want to accept such a big challenge? I was not experienced in administration, yada, yada, yada! Nevertheless, under God’s gentle persuasion I accepted the call to do the Lord’s work in Port Coquitlam BC. The school began with eight students in 1995, and in 2010 when I retired we had 190 students. Today with the high school the student enrolment is approaching 300. God is still at work.
Most certainly there were many challenges, frustrations and difficult times as I worked in God’s harvest field, but the joys of working with God’s children are quickly forgotten when one sees and hears the unbelievable witness and expressions of faith in Jesus that comes from the mouths of babes and children.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked Him. “Yes”, replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” Matt. 21:16
There are so many experiences and stories I could tell about the wonders of being about the Lord’s business, but one thing I know is that God chooses and uses us to fulfil His purposes, in spite of our self- centered ways, our weaknesses and failings. He enables our walk with Him to be joyful and refreshed daily as He strengthens us with His miracles of love and grace along the way.

Michael Gillingham

In June 2013, I’ll have completed twenty years of fulltime church work. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to serve in the church and in the world. God has helped me, guided me, strengthened me and forgiven me on so many occasions. What a good God we serve!

As I look back on my life, I see God at work, gifting me with faith and helping me to know His love. I was baptized as a baby at Valhalla Lutheran Church in Valhalla Centre, Alberta. My parents and grandparents took me to worship regularly. When I was old enough, I attended Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Bible camp. I remember receiving my first Bible when I was in grade 3. I loved to read it and to look at the wonderful pictures of Bible events painted by the artist Richard Hook. When I think about Jesus, I think about Richard Hook’s inspiring paintings. My family was very involved in church and we were often personal friends with our pastors and their families. This helped me to realize that pastors are people, too, who live normal lives with all the challenges and blessings of family life. I very much admired my pastors.

In grade 7, I started Confirmation classes. We studied the Bible narrative in our first year and the catechism in our second year. Our pastor had been a professor at a Bible school so his classes were very instructive and demanding. I remember learning a lot. Confirmation Sunday was a special day for me as I declared my faith in God and promised to love and serve Him all my life. I continued to attend worship and was very involved in youth group. My pastor knew that I played guitar and he asked me to help with music in church from time to time. As I grew older, my pastor encouraged me to consider fulltime church work. I really started to consider the possibilities.

After high school, I toured Canada and parts of the United States with a Christian music ministry team called Morning Star. I learned a lot about the church, about ministry and about serving God as I sang, played guitar and helped with different presentations and events. I also met my wife on the tour. Lynne is a faith-filled Christian woman who has been such an encouragement and support to me. After tour, I went to Concordia College (now Concordia University College) in Edmonton. I started a degree in Psychology with plans to attend seminary. Lynne and I married and we started a family as I worked my way through my degree. When I graduated, I asked about studies at the seminary. At the same time, I was offered a job working with youth ministry, music ministry and young adult ministry at Hope Lutheran Church (now Hope Lutheran Church and School) in Port Coquitlam, BC. I prayed about it and decided to take the job at Hope. I had a wonderful time learning and growing as a church worker while I worked with Pastor Ron Towriss and the good people in the congregation there. I served at Hope for four years. I then moved to Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to serve with youth ministry, music ministry and young adult ministry at Immanuel Lutheran Church. I continued learning and growing as a church worker while I worked with Pastor Tim Richholt and the good people in the congregation there. During my time in Rocky Mountain House, I completed the colloquy requirements for certification as a Director of Parish Services in Lutheran Church – Canada. In 2004, I began work as Director of Youth Ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church in Sherwood Park. I’ve appreciated the chance to work closely with Pastor Marv Ziprick and the other staff and members of Bethel as I serve in youth ministry. I’ve been encouraged to grow as a person of faith, as a leader and as a member of my local community in my time at Bethel. As I reflect on my life as a church worker, I’m so thankful for my family, my pastors, and my brothers and sisters in Christ who have encouraged, supported and guided me along this path. I truly feel blessed to serve and to share God’s love in so many different ways with so many different people.

Tamara Schultz

On our journey to the call If I had to use one word to describe our experience, I would have to say “amazing.”In my opinion, I believe our journey began 19 years ago. After our first year of marriage, I began to notice that Mark spent a lot of time reading and studying many books on church history and the bible. My first thought at that time was oh no, I think God is calling him to the ministry. this seemed exciting till I realized I would be the” pastor’s wife”. Impossible! I don’t play piano, sing, or even know anything about the church or what was to be expected of me. The idea of ministry was quickly buried and replaced with every day challenges of raising a family and married life.As we journeyed through life and church, it became more clear to me that I needed to prepare myself for” Mark’s Call”, as more members of our home church were beginning to ask Mark if he has considered entering the ministry. One member in particular, a new DPS worker to the congregation, was very interested in pointing Mark in that direction. I remember his response clearly and with humor. Mark stated with a stern face “if God wants me to be a pastor, then He will make it happen.” The subject was quickly dropped and not spoken of for a couple of years till we moved to the Edmonton area.Once we moved to the Edmonton area, I found that once again many people, whom didn’t even know my husband began to ask if he might consider attending the seminary, by this point I was certain that he was receiving a call, whether it be as a minister or a church worker; either way, we had some serious conversing to do.Soon, we found ourselves searching for advice from peers and other seminary students as well as local pastors. With each conversation, I became hesitant. I had so many questions, “how would we support ourselves?” At that time, I was a stay at home mom with 4 children who drove school bus. The thought of going out and finding a full time job was frightening. I had no real skills, and there was no time to go back to school to obtain any. Then I began to wonder how this would affect the children. Would they be able to adjust to changing schools, making new friends? Would each new community accept them? Then I began to think of our home and community in which we live. I loved our little town and I was very involved. I loved my home, to me it was perfect. Are we really going to leave this all behind?

As mark was completing more courses and really getting ready for seminary, it felt like crunch time, I need a job! I tried mail delivery, well that didn’t work out at all as I am directionally challenged to say the least. I couldn’t imagine a job where I was getting lost all the time. Then one evening will I was at a regular meeting with the local fire department where I volunteered, one of the other female members said to me “let’s do the EMR course together, you can carry my books.” She is a dear friend and looking back I can clearly see Gods hand in our friendship. So my emergency services career began. I completed all the courses necessary in such a short time and was ready to take on the financial responsibilities of our family.

Today, 6 years later, my husband is only weeks away from being ordained in a small community south of Edmonton. Although I still love and miss the little town we left, I’m positive we will love the new community God has chosen. Our children are happy and have really displayed strength and wisdom through this journey. God was with us every step and I’m sure will continue to be with us on the rest of our adventure. There are just so many ways I see that His hand was and still is in every task placed before us.