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by Sonja G

Thank You

For Your Seminary Support

Thursday, November 24, 2016
by Sonja G

Dear Members of St. Peter,

It has been a busy, exciting, and challenging first semester of study as a seminarian in Luther’s Distributed Learning program working toward a Master of Divinity degree. I am deeply grateful for your financial support of my studies. I am also grateful for your personal support through affirmation, encouragement, and allowing opportunities to begin contextual learning by engaging in new leadership opportunities this semester. It is, indeed, a great gift to be learning and growing within a supportive community of faith. Your support for the shaping of a future Christian public leader is support for God’s mission in this world.

It was in this supportive community of faith I first discerned a call to ordained ministry. While the seeds had been planted many years earlier during a mission of accompaniment trip to Mexico City with a former congregation, the opportunities to partner in ministry as a Guide in the Confirmation ministry were the fertile soil and nourishment I needed. During one of my first sessions as a Confirmation Guide, I was giving our weekly blessing to each youth in the group, tracing the sign of the cross on their foreheads and speaking the same words of blessing spoken at baptism: Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. I had a deep yearning to get to do it again, and again, and again. Weeks later, during communion as I listened to the pastor speak the words of institution, I experienced a sense of, “You should be doing that.”

As I explored these experiences with those around me, I received encouragement to discern what they meant to me. At the same time, Pastor Grant Woodley was leaving his call at St. Peter and suggested to the council I would be a good fit to lead the ministry, and the council took a leap of faith and extended the invitation. This invitation into leadership and the careful way I was mentored into the role set the groundwork for my discernment of a call to ordained ministry.

Discernment is challenging. There are many ways this is not the life my husband, Scott, and I pictured when we married and had children. And yet, the great joy I have weekly in the opportunity to share the gospel in Confirmation, to walk beside the youth and adult Guides as they grapple with the challenging task of living a life of faith, and to partner with all of you in God’s mission in this time and place is like nothing I’ve experienced. The Holy Spirit is at work in this place, and I am grateful to be a part of God’s transformational work in the world, here, with you.

Grace + Peace,


Sonja Gerstenberger
Director of Faith Formation

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