Answering the Call: Faith, Friendship and the Future
by By Laura Malm Weber, Correspondent
It’s that inner voice calling you for a higher purpose. A nagging that you’re meant to help others and spread God’s Word. A force within that draws you to do something good with your life.
Many people feel this pull, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into the desire to preach. Halle Siebert first felt her calling in high school; however, it took her a few years to find the right path.
“Since my senior year in high school I felt a call to seminary; however, I knew that I wasn’t called to be a pastor,” Siebert says. “After completing a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I knew that career wasn’t for me.”
She began her journey searching for a program that satisfied her passions both personally and professionally. She discovered Luther Seminary and suddenly everything made sense.
“I looked into the degree programs offered by Luther Seminary, and I noticed a previous partnership with St. Mary’s University and a Marriage and Family Therapy program. Immediately, I knew Christian counseling was the vocation I was being called to. Since this program was no longer available, I decided to enroll in a M.A. in Congregational and Community Care since much of its concentration is on pastoral counseling. Though this isn’t my final degree, I knew having a theological education would be important in my career of Christian therapy.”
Set to graduate in spring 2018, Siebert has thoroughly enjoyed her studies thus far. Entering the program as a M.A. student gave her a unique perspective and unexpected opportunities.
“Coming into seminary as a M.A. student rather than a M.Div. student, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to learn about the theological specifics of Christianity seeing as my degree is focused on pastoral care,” she recalls. “However, I have been pleasantly surprised that I have a lot of freedom to take classes like ‘Lutheran Confessions’ and other systematic theology courses.”
While she loves the courses in her concentration, she’s also enjoyed having the option to take so many courses to help her understand the theological foundations, confessions and history of Lutheranism and other denominations.
“To me, this shows how committed Luther Seminary is to creating well-rounded faith leaders, whether they are pursuing ordination or not,” Siebert says.
The congregational care classes she takes are also a big part of why she feels so prepared for her future.
“I have really enjoyed the holistic education that many of the professors have provided,” she stresses. “I have taken classes such as ‘Faith, Forgiveness and Healing,’ ‘Ministry with Those with Mental Illness,’ and ‘Ministry with Those with Addiction.’ In all these courses, the professors have not only provided theological perspectives to these topics, but also crucial information, current research and community resources.”
She notes how much she appreciates the emphasis her professors have placed on the individual and the importance of retaining his or her dignity.
“Courses such as these remind us, as faith leaders, that we are not only called to theologically educate the community but to truly and lovingly serve all of God’s beloved children,” she says.
Of course, it’s not all work and no play for Siebert. She enjoys spending time with her friends and adores the campus community. She fondly recalls an impromptu adventure to celebrate Mardi Gras earlier this year. After driving to Bistro La Roux in Circle Pines – 20 minutes north of campus – the students enjoyed fantastic food and celebration.
“Serving King Cake is a fun Mardi Gras tradition in which a tiny figure of a baby is hidden in the cake, and the guest whose piece of the cake contains the baby is predicted to have good luck in the coming year and wins a prize,” Siebert explains.
At the event she bought a few pieces of cake and one of her friends found the baby in hers. It was an unforgettable evening of fun and friendship.
“I think this experience is really symbolic of life on campus,” she says. “Not only is Luther located between two lively cities, but everyone on campus is so eager to try new things. It’s awesome, as someone who just moved to Minnesota, to have others who are willing to go on these adventures with me.”
After graduation, Siebert hopes to attend Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Penn.
“Having this degree from Luther will help me approach therapy from an educated, theological perspective rather than just my own faithfulness,” she says. “This will be a huge help in seeing situations and beliefs from others’ faith perspectives, even if they differ from my own. This adoption of others’ beliefs will hopefully assist me in being the most helpful and versatile therapist I can be.”