Tag Archives: DPS

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.

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.


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.