I am a seminary graduate. But I’m not ordained yet. Which consistently begs the question: What are you doing exactly? When will you really be a pastor?
Earning my Master’s of Divinity was the most time-consuming and difficult piece of becoming a pastor. Thankfully, that part is done – I graduated last week! But I also need to be approved for ordination, assigned to a geographical area of the US, and called by a specific congregation. All of those steps take time. In the meantime, I get to keep preaching and teaching and sharing God’s stories with other people – however and wherever God sends me. I am horrible at waiting, and even worse at doing nothing. So, in anticipation of this gap year, I applied for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; by the grace of God, I won an amazing fellowship!
Graduate Preaching Fellowship
This generous and anonymous award is given to only one Luther Seminary graduate per year, who gets to spend the year gaining experiences in preaching and worship leading through study and travel abroad. The goal is to learn more about God’s story in the world, and in individuals throughout the world, and to connect people to God’s story and God’s story to people.
Migrants, Refugees, and other people on the move
God’s story is a story of people on the move. We are all refugees. I get to spend the next year accompanying Lutheran and Christian churches, organizations, and individuals who are walking alongside migrants and refugees. I also get to spend time preaching about migration stories in the Bible: Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Daniel, Jesus, Paul.
Of course, in one year, I can’t travel the entire world. So, I’m going to be focused on three major geographic areas:
- Europe – migrants mainly from North Africa and Syria/ Middle East. In many countries, Lutherans are leading the efforts to welcome and support migrants.
- North America – migrants from Central America, traveling through Mexico to the US. The ELCA’s new AMMPARO program is connecting resources to advocate for, accompany, and protect migrants in multiple countries.
- Africa – refugees from newly formed South Sudan are arriving daily in Uganda and Kenya, and Lutherans are hosting one of the largest camps in the area
David will be traveling with me, and we’ll spread the travel out across 2016 & 2017. We aren’t moving – we’ll stay at our home in Michigan, and take trips when we can. A few times each month, I’ll travel to a church in the US to share stories. (Contact me if I can come to your congregation!) Check out the “schedule” and “contact” pages of this blog .
What about ordination? When will I work in a church again?
Only God knows exactly what will happen after Graduate Preaching Fellowship is over. Most likely, sometime in 2017, I will be called to a congregation and ordained as a reverend in the ELCA. Until then, I’ll keep working where I’m sent – whether that’s Europe, Africa, Latin America or in my own hometown.
When that day comes, I hope that you’ll all be a part of it, celebrating God’s work through all of us together.