Admissions News - Fall 2012
An interview with Joe Natwick, M.Div. student
Name: Joe Natwick
Degree: Master of Divinity
Hometown: Fargo, N.D.
Undergrad: Religion and Classics, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash.
What was the most exciting about coming to Luther Seminary?
Coming to Luther Seminary has been incredibly exciting! Being immediately immersed in rich dialogue with professors, pastors, students and community members has really helped me grow a lot this year. I continue to be excited by the diversity that daily challenges me to think in new ways and to grow as a future leader of the church.
Have there been any challenges in making the transition to Luther Seminary and the life of a seminary student?
Any time someone moves to a new location, leaving friends and communities behind, it can be challenging. However, the opportunities to meet new people and create new, life-giving relationships are abundant at seminary. During First Week, I was able to sow the seeds of new friendships, which have grown to be quite fruitful during my first year at Luther Seminary. The community of this school is one that is intentional and inclusive, resulting in a very easy transition for me.
What has most surprised you about Luther Seminary?
Although I had a hunch that the faculty at Luther Seminary were pretty good, I have been astounded by the wealth of knowledge the professors have. Even though I studied religion in college, my seminary classes are extraordinarily stimulating and interesting. The faculty here is a very accessible resource for my theological and pastoral development in that they are both brilliant and caring. The professors love to have students come to their offices for help on assignments, discussion of class topics, and sometimes just to chat about life. I am very thankful to be in an institution that values not only academic rigor but also the relationship of the faculty and students.
What were some of your initial reactions to the Twin Cities and to campus life?
Growing up only a few hours west of the Twin Cities, in Fargo, N.D., I often travelled to Minneapolis-St. Paul for concerts, sporting events, and other pieces of culture, which did not make their way over to North Dakota. Although sports teams and concerts are a big part of the Twin Cities lifestyle, they are by no means exhaustive. It has been a truly welcoming experience learning to call this place my new home. I have had no trouble finding things to do around town or finding meaningful relationships with people who have similar interests.
What are the experiences, communities or individuals that have helped you discern a call to ministry?
As a teenager, I was very blessed to travel with my youth group on many different trips. These experiences became the foundation of my faith and my call to ministry. Whether it was doing urban ministry in Chicago or camping on a frozen lake in northern Minnesota in negative 32-degree weather, I always felt at peace in the presence of a close faith community. Studying religion in college allowed me to challenge my faith in ways that were new and invigorating. I never checked my heart at the door of a classroom or my mind at the door of a church, but rather went in with my whole being ready for the challenge and growth. My family and my friends have been continually supportive of my call to ministry and although I tried to deny the call at many stages in my life, they have given me the support and encouragement that helped lead me to the doorsteps of Luther Seminary.
Do you have any advice for college students thinking about attending Luther Seminary?
My only advice for college students thinking about seminary is, don't back down from the challenges. Whether a particular class is frustrating or an aspect of your belief or a new opinion does not align within your current framework, always challenge yourself to grow mentally, spiritually and emotionally. The challenge is what I love most and what I look forward to every day at Luther Seminary. Expect it, embrace it and live it. It will make you a better leader and a better citizen of this world.