I read with interest President Kieschnick’s article, Pastors Wanted, projecting the synod’s need for pastors in the next 10 years and appealing to congregations and pastors “to think of men to whom the Lord has given such gifts (for the pastoral ministry)” … and to “encourage these men to consider the ministry.” This past April, while just under 200 seminarians received their first call into the holy ministry, 31 seminarians (an unprecedented number as reported in the call service at Fort Wayne) did not receive their first call at the placement services of our two seminaries. Our son was one of them. He is the first of 6 young men from our congregation to complete his studies for the holy ministry. Our congregation members are puzzled by talk of vacancies and the need for pastors on the one hand and 31 seminarians without calls on the other.
Seminarians are well trained and equipped to preach the gospel and administer the Lord’s sacraments. Their field work and vicarage have exposed them to the demands of ministry in the life of a congregation. Unlike graduates from secular colleges and universities, seminarians cannot shop themselves around in an attempt to find the work for which they are trained. They depend entirely on being called by a congregation or an agency of synod allowed to extend a call. From the day a young man is accepted into the seminary, his eyes, energy, and heart are fixed like a laser beam on call night 4 years later. Everything he does in his pastoral training points him and his family to that special night.
I am certain our son and his family (and the other 30 uncalled seminarians) will in time receive his call and that it will reflect where God wants and needs him to serve the Lord’s Church. However, the collective disappointment of 31 uncalled seminarians and their families at the time of the call/placement services makes one wonder, “What about all the reported pastoral vacancies?” Why are so many congregations unwilling to call a seminarian? Where are these young men and their families supposed to serve and gain experience as pastors? How do we recruit more young men into a calling where they may not be wanted?
This spring, the talk of vacancies and recruitment rings a bit hollow for at least 31 families and the churches who supported them. Perhaps the article’s title should have been, Pastors Available.
Rev. Cary M. Richert, Associate Pastor
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
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