By Sam Chamberlain, Correspondent
The call to ministry wasn’t something Brook Seaford resisted. “I never fought it!” he says, “I’ve always been all about it … but it took time.” Seaford began his seminary journey in the fall of 2010 and will graduate this summer. “When I started as a distance learning student I was in cohort 4,” he says, “But I think I’m going to finish up with cohort 7.” While this may be a little later than anticipated, for Seaford, it’s better late than never. Transitioning from a fifteen-year career in corporate America, Brook also has an M.B.A. and worked for a major insurance company based in Charlotte, N.C.—his hometown.
While on internship, Seaford has jumped headfirst into the role of associate pastor—preaching every other week, leading a men’s group, serving on committees and regularly taking pastoral care calls. Yet despite these busy first few months, working at Cross & Crown Lutheran Church in Matthews, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte, has only affirmed his call to ministry. “Internship has prepared me for the reality of being a pastor,” he says. “Just last week, my kids had head lice and I had bronchitis, but I still had to preach that Sunday. The past six months have taught me how to balance family life with my church work.”
An aspiring second career pastor, Seaford sees his life experiences as valuable assets for congregational ministry, though initially, as a husband and father of five—with children 13, 10, 8-year old twins and 4—the logistics were the obstacles. Knowing he couldn’t quit his job, a distance-based divinity degree was the perfect fit for Seaford. While internship was the last hurdle to graduation, Seaford and his family weren’t quite sure how they’d make it happen. “God’s fingerprints were all over the place,” he described. “Just when it was time for internship, congregational support came from everywhere—four different churches. And my department at the insurance company shut down, so I got a severance package.”
While working in corporate America isn’t exactly the same thing as leading a congregation, Seaford’s interpersonal skills are probably his strongest attributes. “Stewardship campaigns, whether they’re in business, banking or the insurance world, or at the local church, are kind of similar,” he says. “Many things from my past career are transferrable.” During internship, his personal experiences have not only helped him have empathy for what others might be going through, but they have also created a commonality and relationality between him and his congregation. Three years ago his wife became very sick and as a result lost both of her hands and a foot. “Adapting to using two prosthetic hands isn’t easy,” he says. “She was once an avid runner and Boston Marathon qualifier.” Yet Seaford humbly sees these struggles and trials as a greater means to understand and serve his congregation—to praise the Lord.
“A unique challenge during internship,” he says, “has been navigating the political landscape last fall and winter, and my state in particular tends to have people on both sides of the aisle—so sensitivity was essential and my own opinions aren’t necessarily what matters. I don’t assume where people are at, but instead have coffee with them, listen to their concerns, and in the end: proclaiming the Gospel and caring for everyone is my job.”