Story Magazine

Third Quarter, 2005

The Challenge of the Call

Karen Gutzman, Master of Arts Student

"I was looking for a quality education and a chance to explore what I'm passionate about in ministry," relates Karen Gutzman about her decision to come to Luther Seminary to study Christian education. "At Luther Seminary, I learned that ministers are not only challenged to learn doctrine and theology, but to engage culture and media, to be disciples as well as make disciples, to be intentional about preparing people for ministry in their own lives, and to keep God at the center of all things."

Karen's decision to enter seminary was tested by her own high expectations for herself. In fact, her powerful intellect and hunger for challenges almost sent her to medical school--Karen already is a registered paramedic. "I decided not to pursue a career in medicine because my passion and creativity didn't seem to intersect with being a doctor," recalls Karen. "But I faced the same obstacle in ministry because I didn't have a driving passion to become a pastor."

In fact, Karen's calling was being realized in her life, even before she knew that seminary was where she would eventually arrive. For the last six summers, Karen has worked at summer camps on Christian education leadership teams. For the last three summers, she has served as a program director.

Yet, when her own pastor asked her what God was up to in her life, she struggled to describe a feeling of being called to ministry, but not knowing her place. Her pastor directed her to Luther Seminary. "I knew that I had found the right fit in educational ministry as soon as I saw the classes and read about the program," recalls Karen.

The depth of Karen's discernment and her tremendous gifts represent the best of Luther Seminary's students. "Admissions decisions are becoming more selective," explains Patricia Lull, dean of students. "We're becoming an even more attractive school for a wider variety of students who are seeking a formal theological degree. We believe this is a form of stewardship, ensuring that students can make the most of their academic and contextual opportunities while they are enrolled at Luther Seminary."

So far, Karen has not been disappointed in her aim to apply all her innate abilities as she pursues her call. "I have been challenged beyond what I can sometimes comprehend and am at times overwhelmed with the task set before the leaders of the church, but my professors always bring me back to Christ. They remind me that I don't have to carry the burden of ministry alone, but that God is preparing my fellow classmates and the people of the church to be sent into the world."

Karen's words highlight the observations of Dean Lull: "Just when I think a class of seminarians can't get any better, I meet the incoming students like Karen -- insightful, poised, open-minded, and generous in their aspirations for serving in the church and world."