by Grace Pardun Alworth, M.Div. '13
For Barb and Allyson Streed, a mother-daughter
duo at Luther Seminary, church involvement
is a family affair. Barb is a senior in the Master
of Divinity (M.Div.) program. She has juggled her seminary
classes and homework with parenting, her marriage and a
full-time job as a seventh grade English teacher.
Ally, an M.Div. junior, recently returned from teaching English in Japan. "I have been called the Lutheran poster child," she laughs. Ally's identity, like her mother's, is grounded in her Lutheran roots. She grew up in the church, served at an ELCA camp, went to Japan as a missionary and attended an ELCA college before coming to Luther.
Barb's Lutheran beliefs only grew stronger while attending
a different, non-ELCA seminary prior to transferring to
Luther. "One gift that I received [from that experience] was
an affirmation of why the ELCA and a Lutheran theology
are home for me. As my theological views were at times
challenged, I gained strength in them."
As part of a close family who led worship as a family band and spent Saturday mornings at the farmers market, Barb and Ally started exploring their calls to ordained ministry around the same time.
Ally was in high school. She found herself drawn to leadership positions at church, singing in the worship band and teaching children and youth. Her community affirmed her call, so she pursued a degree in youth and family ministry at Augsburg College. Still, she says, she wasn't drawn to ordained ministry quite yet. "However, time changes things and when God calls, he calls," says Ally.
Barb remembers her daughter's call to ministry well. "When
Ally's dad and I found out she was feeling called to seminary
and ordained ministry, we were not at all surprised. ... We always wondered if she might be called in this way."
Barb's own path to ministry was perhaps more of a sharp turn than that of her daughter. "I was minding my own business teaching and enjoying where our family was at in our lives," says Barb. "One day I was studying my daily devotion and I had this overwhelming sense that I was supposed to go to seminary to be a pastor. I spent an entire year [in discernment]. After that year I just knew God was [me] ... to seminary."
Though the Streeds are making this journey together, they both sense they'll be called to different types of ministry. "Because I have a background in Spanish and [I've traveled] to Japan, I see myself in a cross-cultural, intercultural or international congregation, or in mission," says Ally.
Barb has a less concrete view of her future in ministry, but her desire to fulfill her call is just as strong as Ally's. "In complete honesty, I cannot conjure up in my mind the place where I dream of serving, except that I see a place where I am able to serve God's people in the reality of their everyday lives. So ... I guess that makes me pretty open. I fully realize that wherever God calls [me and my husband], God calls us together."
For now, mother and daughter support and encourage each other through what they deem "geeky and nerdy discussions." Barb talks about how she learns from her daughter. "I always
appreciate getting Ally's perspective on a particular
scriptural text or theological topics. Her life experience has been so different than mine. I have much to learn from her."
It's clear the two share a bond of family and friendship that
has only deepened because of their shared experience. "I've
loved hearing about the joys and struggles [my mom] has
had throughout this seminary experience," says Ally. "I've
also loved sharing my joys and struggles with her, even
though I've just begun. I know that we'll have a lot to talk
about from here on out."