My journey into the pastoral ministry began long before I realized it. As a young teenager I felt that I was being called into the teaching ministry of the Lutheran School system in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I pursued that call and served as teacher and then principal for 18 years. During that time the Lord was preparing me for the pastoral ministry by helping me achieve a master’s degree, to become more comfortable working with adults, helping me become a leader and teaching me to be comfortable proclaiming His Word publicly. Suddenly in 1995 that ministry came to a close but immediately God opened a new ministry to me. He led both me and my wife into the financial services industry. Specifically, He directed us into the Lutheran focused ministry of Aid Association for Lutherans, now Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. For just over 10 years we served to help people provide for their families financial needs and to consider ways in which they could continue to give to their church even in death. All the while, as I served as a representative for AAL, increasingly I felt the call to serve as a pastor. As I met with couples, in their homes, to discuss finances, the subject of church affiliation and attendance would come up. I would have a wonderful time helping those couples identify the type of congregation they’d feel most comfortable being a part of and then I’d direct them to one of the many congregations that I served.In early 2006, as things were changing at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, my wife and I concluded that it was time to pursue the needed training to become a pastor. After the good people at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana accepted my application for enrollment, we sold our home, stored much of our belongings, packed the rest and headed for Fort Wayne. The pre-requisite Greek class was very difficult, but God guided me through. The next two years were a very enjoyable and challenging learning experience for man who’d been out of school for some time and friends were made. My vicarage was ideal in every way. I was blessed to serve a pastor and congregation in sunny southern California.In 2009 I was placed in an unknown city in a foreign land. We knew that God would have us serve where He wanted but we were not thinking Fort McMurray, Alberta. So far, it is a great fit–thanks be to God!
- Jennifer Frim
- Margaret Towriss
- Michael Gillingham
- Miriam Winstanley
- Rev. Al Lewis
- Rev. Clint Magnus
- Rev. Darren Siegle
- Rev. David Bode
- Rev. David Dressler
- Rev. Dr. Glenn Schaeffer
- Rev. Forrest Stroup
- Rev. Fraser Coltman
- Rev. Keith Haberstock
- Rev. Laverne Hautz
- Rev. Mark Hennig
- Rev. Mark Ruf
- Rev. Mark Schultz
- Rev. Mark Smith
- Rev. Michael Keith
- Rev. Neil Stern
- Rev. Paul Roggow
- Rev. Rod Buck
- Rev. Steve Harold
- Rev. Tom Kruesel
- Rev. William R. A. Ney
- Tamara Schultz
- Vicar Aaron Astley
Reflections on my journey to Ordination
The ‘call’ for me to the pastoral ministry came over a long period of time. Encouragement came through some people, then by others years later with no connection to the first people and then again by others years after that. It seemed that whenever I engaged in church activities, whether as a youth, young adult bible studies, or my later involvement in various boards and committees within the church, that someone would point out some quality for ministry. I answered all with the same answer – I don’t think so.At that time looking ahead to the possibility of preparing for ministry seemed unattainable, if not impossible, as there were too many uncertainties, so many unknowns. I was a machinist by trade, it was fulfilling work and I was good at, it was secure. To leave that willy-nilly to a new vocation of such importance, uncertainty and consequence was simply out of the question.
The ‘call’ for me did come from the outside, yet it was also inward; I did have a desire to be involved in something with real purpose. It was the questions that held me back, the uncertainty of not knowing for sure. What if I start and find out that I should not have? What if the ‘call’ I felt was just because I was weary of the daily grind in the shop? Did I really have the gifts to be a pastor? Am I academic enough? How was I to support my family? Would my kids suffer and become resentful for this decision? I was, and still am, an introvert. I did not like to stick out in the crowd, or even sit where I will be seen.Now after a ten year journey, what seemed so far off and out of reach happened so quickly. Looking back I can see where God has been with me at every step, and I am weeks away from ordination into the holy ministry of Lutheran Church-Canada; how did this happen?
One day I determined to answer this question once and for all so I went seeking further council. I spoke with a seminary professor about the nature of this ‘call’ and the challenges before me. The advice I got seemed good, he said to ‘start taking courses towards this end’ after all, ‘what could it hurt?’ Keep working towards that goal as long as the light seemed to be green, but if the light turns red then you will know for sure. That resonated well with me, for some of the courses I would have to take as prerequisites was stuff that interested me anyway.
So I began to take one course at a time through distance education while I continued to work. I would keep going as long as the light is green, the education is never in vain, and I will learn something that I did not know before. Courses in history and anthropology soon turned into Hebrew and Greek, and soon produced an application for enrollment and acceptance. I discovered that it was not one giant step, but a series of small steps. Everything else seemed to fall into place and I began full time studies.The short story of it is that I found I enjoyed the new roles I was placed in and I began to grow in ability and confidence. I actually began to like it, not to promote myself, but that I was learning a new skill – and that new skill was receiving positive feedback. The other concerns seemed to be unfounded as well. My children responded positively to the change and, financially, the bank never did completely run dry. Of course, the journey was difficult and has had many bumps, but the light never did turn ‘red;’ in fact I found that the reasons and expectations I had at the start transformed and changed into more than I had anticipated.
I distinctly remember the words of my grandmother. I was about ten years old. I remember the room in their Saskatchewan farm house in which she said to me, “Laverne, you should be a minister.” I remember thinking, “No, I shouldn’t!” She obviously saw some characteristics in me that she felt would match those needed for a caring pastor. After all, her brother-in-law, her nephew and her son were all pastors. She knew what it took. I filed that comment in the recesses of my mind for many years.
A couple of years later I was confirmed at my home church. The lessons, the Bible stories, the academics and the memorization – I could handle that easily! But when it came to writing an essay to share my faith with the members of my congregation, that was a different story. I remember talking to my dad at the kitchen table and crying because I didn’t know what to write. He talked me through my fears, helped me through my fears, so that Confirmation Day wasn’t as traumatic as my young mind imagined.
In high school I was determined to become a math teacher, and began studying for that profession. But in high school and university, my faith in Christ became more and more real to me through my involvement with youth group, Bible Studies and Youth Gatherings. As a young adult, I played guitar and sang with a Christian singing group as we worked with youth groups in Regina and the surrounding area. I also did the speaking parts on behalf of our group and received encouragement from members of various congregations to consider becoming a pastor. Those comments, too, were filed in my mind. I considered going into seminary immediately after my university degree, but decided to try out teaching.
At the end of my first year of teaching in small town Saskatchewan, I attended a local congregation’s 50th anniversary. Roy Holm, Central District President at that time, was the guest preacher and he spoke of the need for pastors in the church. That was another God-nudge for me (and for another farmer of that congregation who found his way into the ministry).
About a month later I had an opportunity to preach and lead worship at my home church, and its small rural sister church, when my pastor took some vacation time. It was a hot July morning in the era of three-piece suits. At the small rural church, as I was reading the second lesson, I felt faint and planned to sit down in a chair. I didn’t make it! Some parishioners revived me, continued the service on their own, and then had to drive me and my car back to Regina, where things went better, for the second service. That was my first preaching experience!! It was a mixed emotional experience that could have deterred my considerations for becoming a pastor. There were a handful of other times in my early ministry when I felt faint, but God sustained me, and deepened my desire to serve Him.
I taught a second year of math at Luther High School in Regina. I say that “God plans coincidences,” and, during that year, God lined up some coincidences and gave me a final “Word-based” elbow nudge to head off to seminary. My Christian home upbringing, my involvement in youth Bible Studies and youth ministry were preparing me from the ‘inside out’ for my vocation as a pastor. Now it was time for the ‘outside in’ preparation of sitting at the feet of learned Biblical scholars. I especially enjoyed the study of Greek and the exegetical studies of New Testament books revealing the wonders of God to me in personal ways. I appreciated the practical courses , Parish Administration, Christian Education and Evangelism, which prepared me for the daily work of being a pastor.
I had lived at home during university, worked the summers and got some scholarships, as a result I came out of university with no debts. In two years of teaching I had used the saving skills imparted by my parents to sock away enough money to begin seminary, without truly knowing what I was saving that money for. I got married just before vicarage, and because we relocated my wife wasn’t able to find work for that year. My vicarage was unusual – I served a three-point vacant parish with my supervisor two hours away. I preached some 45 times that year, 3 times a Sunday. Then we had our first child in my last year of seminary. Many seminarians claim “my wife put me through school.” That wasn’t true for me – God provided summer work, scholarships, my vicarage stipend and the discipline of good stewardship to get me all the way through seminary with no debts – except the new car I bought at graduation time.
When I was in university I remember a passion growing in my heart simply to “tell people about Jesus.” That has characterized my pastoral ministry. I have enjoyed teaching the Christian faith especially to adults who have a hunger to learn and grow and walk with Jesus. I have enjoyed having one-on-one conversations about Jesus with people in various situations – in my office, on a pre-Baptism visit or at a wedding reception. Some of those opportunities come “out of the blue” but I know that God has led those people to talk to me at just that time and He has prepared me for those conversations ever since my grandmother said, “Laverne, you should be a minister.”
God knew. She knew. Now I know.
I was raised in an unchurched home. A family tragedy happened and the local Lutheran Pastor reached out to our family. As a consequence of this loving act I enrolled in confirmation class and, for the first time in my life, heard about Jesus. This Pastor took me “under his wing”, took me with him on shut in calls, spent time with me, and challenged me to consider the pastoral ministry. He became a hero to me and I grew to love what he loved doing.
The biggest challenges for me in becoming a Pastor had to do with finances to pay for my education. My family was very poor. The same Pastor and the people of the congregation went out of their way to find me paying jobs. They also “fund raised” for me, including help from the old AAL & LB Lutheran insurance companies. I recall also them getting the District President to find funds for me as I headed off to Concordia, Portland.
My informal preparation came from the aforementioned Pastor letting me “shadow” him in various settings as well as giving me leadership roles in youth work.
After Concordia, Portland and Ft. Wayne, Senior College, seminary held no big surprises. I was well prepared and did very well academically. Perhaps my biggest surprise was the lack of personal piety in some of my professors.
I worked numerous jobs while attending seminary. The seminary had some financial aid. My home District helped as well as my home congregation. The seminary connected me to some generous scholarship sources (private Christian organizations & families). I ate a LOT of “Kraft Dinner” :).
My fears centered around perceived personal inadequacy. It was my preaching professor (the sainted Dr. Richard Kraemer) who took time to encourage me and focus my heart on God’s adequacy working through me. Little did Dr. Kraemer know that I would teach students how to preach at Concordia Seminary, Edmonton for many years. 🙂
My biggest joys have been how God has used me to:
- Bring unchurched husbands (of member wives) into saving faith & active church life
- Instill in my former seminary students a passion for preaching
- Reach out to new immigrants leading them to saving faith & active church life
I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t go to Church with my family. I was one of those sons of the congregation that every older member approaches to say that they should become a Pastor. I even considered ministry as a vocation, but in my heart what I really wanted to be was a superhero. As years passed and my future loomed, Ministry seemed less and less likely and my desire was to become a Mountie. But radioactive spiders were in short supply and the RCMP were not hiring during the 80’s so I, like most of my classmates went to University and took…something, something I thought would be right up my alley, something I would enjoy…but most importantly something I could get a job doing. Going to University and then more school at Seminary seemed WAY too long for me so I was going to get in, get out, and get a job in as short of a time as possible.
Almost three years into my program I had hit a wall. I hated what I was taking and felt like I had somehow booked passage to Tarshish and that a big fish would soon be headed my way. I quit. Moving to Edmonton to start a new program at Concordia I hesitantly headed in the direction of ministry but kept my options (escape plan) open. I was pretty unsure of the time commitment to Seminary and pretty certain that I was not Pastor material.Four years passed – I got my degree and then got married. Seminary seemed farther away as my new wife and I began new jobs, and yet this thought of ministry simply would not go away. Pragmatic concerns entered into the picture and paying off student loans, providing for my wife and soon to be born child and food – all became good reasons to stay in teaching and NOT to go to Seminary. But that nagging thought was still there.After much deliberation and against all good judgement we decided to leave our home and our jobs and return to Edmonton to attend Seminary in the fall. It was not always easy, but God was faithful to his promise to provide and care for us. To be sure it did not miraculously appear on my front step in the form of a pile of money like some people tell of, but it did come to us in the form of a short job here or a food hamper there, a summer vicarage, a bursary or a preaching assignment.
As God shaped me and my family those Seminary years seemed to go very quickly. Four years and three children later, convocation and placement was approaching, I wondered what I had worried about? Had God not promised to care for me and my family – were we not of more importance to Him than the birds of the air or the flowers of the fields? We found out firsthand how wonderful it is when your faith grows and is strengthened as God’s promises turn out to be real and true.
Has it been easy? No. In all honesty at times ministry can be very, very hard. We work with people who desire to hear God’s Word but we also work with those who resist it with every fiber of their being who at times see you as the focal point of their resistance. I have been profoundly hurt in Ministry and bear deep scars from those times – and yet there are also times where I have seen firsthand how God works through me, perhaps in spite of me, where He has used me to be a blessing to others. I know of no other vocation that touches people in such a vital and lasting way as Ministry. I have been frustrated to tears by apathy and even hostility among God’s people – and I have been blessed to have held tightly to the hand of the dying, assuring them of God’s mercy as they breathed their last and were embraced in the arms of their Saviour. No one can walk away from that experience unchanged!
Pastoral ministry is not for everyone. It is not always easy work, it is not always gentle work, but if you are one who is called to it, for good or bad, it is ALWAYS important work. We Pastors will not become rich, or famous, doing this but like Israel’s tribe of Levi we are indeed blessed for our inheritance is the “Word of the Lord” and our reward is the acclamation “well done good and faithful servant.”
A Servant of Christ and of His Church.
Various circumstances led me to discern an inner call to serve within God’s Kingdom of grace as a pastor. As a child in Sunday school I was impressed with a certain pastor. He was a personable man who declared the Gospel clearly to me in children’s messages. I held him in high regard, and I remember developing a fondness for what he did. Continue reading
What do you want to be when you grow up? As children, we are often asked that question, and the typical child may respond with answers like, “I want to be a fireman; a teacher; a doctor; a hockey player. As long as I can remember, the only answer I had for that question was, “I want to be a pastor”. Continue reading
I can’t say I remember when I first began thinking about being a pastor. I just always had an “inclination” to be a pastor. Sunday’s were reserved for Sunday school and worship (except during the summer months when we would go camping every weekend). I loved learning the Bible stories at Sunday School. I remember marching around the church basement to “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Though bored by the redundancy of repeating page 5 and 15 from TLH Sunday after Sunday, I always found Pastor Scholz’s sermons engaging. (Maybe sitting in the front row right at the foot of the altar had something to do with that as well!) Continue reading
I was sitting in a room at a Baseball school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida hoping to sign a professional baseball contract when my heart did a stewardship review about my life. I was surrounded by players who had been the best of the best, had signed a big contract, got seriously injured and were trying to get signed again. I realized then the fragility of a sports’ career. With the gifts God had given to me, how should I respond with my life? Continue reading
I was not raised in a church going family. Though I was baptized at an early age the Church was not a part of my upbringing. It was not until my mid-teen years that I began asking questions about God and the bible. In my late teen years I was given a bible as a gift and I began reading it largely out of curiosity and ended up reading from Genesis right through to Revelation. I recall vividly reading Romans 5:12-21 and seeing how from Genesis to Revelation it all fit together in Jesus. From that point on I became a theological junky. Continue reading