by The Rev. Joel Fritsche
This past summer twenty-two high school men gathered at Concordia Seminary—St. Louis for its annual Exploring the Pastoral Ministry (EPM) event. St. Louis was as it always is in August—hot and sticky. Nevertheless, these young men spent three days with seminary professors, students and local pastors because someone (a pastor, teacher or relative) saw in them the potential for full-time service as a pastor in Christ’s Church.
On the first day of the event, after orientation and a tour of campus, we dove into Holy Scripture to learn more about what it confesses concerning the Office of the Holy Ministry with a study and discussion entitled, “Being a Shepherd of God’s Flock.” We rejoiced in how the Lord Jesus Christ works through the pastor to feHis sheep with His life-giving Gospel. Fellow admissions counselors Rev. ed Kyle Castens and Rev. Paul Philp discussed ways in which high school men can prepare for the pastoral ministry. One of the many things they mentioned…“Get involved in Higher Things!” As always we encourage all young men who are interested in pastoral ministry to talk about it regularly with their pastor.
The official theme for this year’s EPM event focused on the Office of the Keys and Confession. Dr. Norman Nagel had been scheduled to teach on the Office of the Keys. However, Dr. Nagel suffered a stroke earlier in the summer, so Dr. Robert Kolb graciously taught in his place. Among other things, Dr. Kolb related stories from his experiences as a teacher and pastor overseas. Next, Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn taught a sectional on Confession and Absolution, even demonstrating the Rite of Individual Confession and Absolution from the hymnal. Rev. Philp “confessed” his sins. For some reason he forgot to confess that he belted me across the face earlier that week. But that’s the beauty of the Lord’s Absolution. We need not torture ourselves to confess every sin we’ve committed in order to receive Holy Absolution.
A key part of the event involved a couple of servant projects that the guys did alongside some of our seminary students. We spent a few hours at Dr. Feuerhahn’s home pouring concrete and creating a ramp from the Feuerhahn’s driveway to their front porch. Dr. Feuerhahn has Parkinson’s disease. The ramp provided a much easier route for him to get from the driveway to his front door. It was a joy for our visitors to sit at the feet of Dr. Feuerhahn when he taught them, but also to “wash his feet” as they served him in Christian love. Several hours were also spent at St. Peter Lutheran Church in St. Louis doing construction work to prepare the facilities there to act as a community center in the area. We were busy painting, busting up concrete, and cleaning up stuff people had dumped on the church property. I even got to bust up an old fiberglass tub with a sledgehammer.
For the last night of EPM, we held a “town hall meeting” discussion on the joys and challenges of pastoral ministry with several local pastors and a couple of professors who served numerous good years in the parish. EPM guys had an opportunity to formulate their questions ahead of time so that we could spend the max amount of time letting them hear from our panelists. Questions ranged from preaching and worship to what the genus maiestaticum is (ask Pastor Borghardt what that is).
Worship, as always, played a critical role in EPM. We spent time in God’s Word through devotions and prayer services throughout the event. Seminary students led devotionals and Dr. Tim Saleska, Rev. Philp and I each led services in the evenings. The guys did very well singing hymns and canticles from LSB without accompaniment. Some of our guests assisted with worship by serving as acolytes and lectors. We were certainly
Finally, there were plenty of opportunities to kick back and let off some steam. Guys played basketball, frisbee, numerous board games, and even bollo (otherwise known as hillbilly golf). On Wednesday evening we took in a Cardinals baseball game at Busch Stadium. Don, our master event coordinator, even snuck in some tofu ice cream bars for snacks throughout the event. It really did taste like an ice cream sandwich! I don’t think anyone knew they were tofu but Don. By the end of the event there was one thing we all knew, what a gift this ministry of Christ is to His Church! How awesome it is to stand in His stead, speaking His Words of forgiveness and life.
For more information about Concordia Seminary’s upcoming events for high school men and women, visit www.csl.edu.
The Rev. Joel Fritsche serves as an admissions counselor for Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, MO. He, as well as his counterparts at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN, are always eager to discuss vocation with high school and college-aged men.
Created: October 16th, 2007