The Bulletin

The Bulletin, issued four times each year, is a newsletter designed to communicate information about the Seminary as an institution. It is distributed without charge to alumni/ae, churches, and friends and contains short articles about the current activities and purposes of the Seminary.

The Bulletin, Fall 2012, Vol. 48, No. 3

In this issue:

  • A Call and an Answer
  • Working Together
  • LTS Family Rises to the Challenge
  • A Living Legacy
  • Newsbriefs
  • Alumni/ae Notes
  • Appreciation Gifts

You may now flip through the pages of the Bulletin online here:

http://issuu.com/lexingtonseminary/docs/lts_bulletin_fall_2012

A Way with Words: Alumni Find Voices as Authors

“Inspiration comes from many sources, but in general I think of it as a kind of intent awareness of the world, listening for the possibilities of stories in the events and circumstances of every day life,” author Kim Edwards says.

Edwards, whose first novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, spent 20 weeks at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list, notes that her world view was influenced by her years as a student at LTS from 2004 to 2006.

“Dr. (William O.) Paulsell (former president of LTS) once said in class that there’s no way of knowing how reading a book will resonate for a person or help shape that person’s perspective, and this is true.  Certainly, the classes I took at LTS continue to influence the way I see the world.  More specifically, my most recent novel, The Lake of Dreams, is structured as a quest story, where the narrator seeks to … resolve various issues of brokenness that have kept her stuck in old patterns, unable to live fully.  There’s also an important theme in regard to the position of women in the church. … I wanted to explore the ways in which the silencing of women’s stories creates imbalances and dysfunctions that resonate through time.

“Many of the authors I first read and studied during my time at LTS informed my thinking as I wrote.  These are authors I continue to read and return to again and again, for pleasure and for wisdom,” Edwards says.

Jane Myers Perrine, ‘87, author of seven previous books, publishes the first in a new series this spring.  The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek tells the story of a how a young minister who attended an “unnamed seminary in Lexington” is called to serve the Christian Church in Butternut Creek, Tex. Rev. Perrine and her husband, George, ‘67, met at LTS (she first attended from 1964-66) and have served Disciples churches for nearly 50 years.  “Those experiences have influenced me as an author,” Perrine says.

Tom Money, ‘58, taps into his life experiences outside his 50 years in pastoral ministry. An avid golfer, Money’s latest book, One Shot of Murder, focuses on the thrilling journey of a professional golfer who unwillingly becomes involved in murder and international intrigue. The book is published by Friesen Press, the publishers of the Harry Potter series.

The Bulletin, Spring 2012, Vol. 48, No. 1

Download the pdf here.

Alumni/ae notes

1949
Edsel F. Pugh  was recognized by the Norwood (OH) Christian Church on the occasion of his 65th ordination anniversary on August 15.

1955
Carl R. Flock  celebrated his 60th ordination anniversary on August 15 at First Christian Church, Birmingham, AL.  Recognition was given during the worship service and a luncheon afterwards.

1958
J. Donald Graham of Berea, Ky., was married to Frances Crawford on May 14.

1972
Edd Spencer completed the final section of hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer during his sabbatical.  He began hiking sections of the Trail over 20 years.
1978/1985
V. David Cooper retired from the Air Force National Guard on Sunday, July 24th, after 32 years of distinguished service as a military chaplain.  As a Disciples minister he also served congregations in Covington, Glasgow, and Campbellsburg, Ky.

1984
Eldon Morgan has retired after recent ministries at Pleasant Grove Christian Church and Calvary Christian Church in Virginia.  He will reside in Bardstown, Ky. where he previously served First Christian Church.

1986
Terry Harper and his wife Mary Beth are serving as co-pastors of First Christian Church, Ocala, Fla.  They were previously at First Christian Church, Greenville, N.C.

Jack Sullivan, Jr. has been called to be the Regional Minister of the Christian Church in Pennsylvania.  He is currently pastor of Fifth Christian Church, Cleveland, Ohio.

1989
Donald Tuttle is the pastor of North Central Christian Church, San Antonio, Tex. He was formerly the pastor of First Christian Church, Corpus Christi, Tex.

1996/2001
C.B. Akins has been appointed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to the Board of Trustees of the University of Kentucky.  A Lexington community leader, Dr. Akins is pastor of First Baptist Church Bracktown.

1996
Steve Heath has been approved for Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ and was called June 6 as pastor of Union Congregational Church, Holly Hill, Fla.
2006
Tanya Tyler was called as the interim minister of Burgin Christian Church, Burgin, Ky.

2006 and 2011
Kyle Brown and Sarah Renfro welcomed Miriam into the world on August 10.  Kyle is associate pastor of Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church in Lexington and Sarah is the associate minister of youth and families at First Christian Church in Frankfort, Ky.

2008
Diane Wood recently began as Chaplain Resident at the University of Alabama Birmingham Medical Center.  She was previously pastor of Village Christian Church, Auburn, Ala.

2011
Chris Geiger was recently ordained at First Christian Church, Pikeville, Ky., and called to be the pastor of the congregation.  He and Haley Flair were married on August 27.

Jason Grow is the new pastor of Bondurant Christian Church in Bondurant, Iowa.

Ken Hardway has been called to be the minister of First Christian Church, Wheeling, W.Va. from First Christian Church, Logan, W.Va.

Kimberley Proctor was married to Java White Sept. 10.

Trailblazing is a ‘piece of cake’

“I tell God, ‘You pick ‘em up, and I’ll put ‘em down,’” the Rev. Edd Spencer is heard saying (referencing his feet) to a fellow Appalachian Trail hiker in a YouTube video filed under the heading “Piece of Cake.”

Spencer started hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1996, beginning in Georgia, and finished in August in Dalton, Mass. in August.

Along the way, Spencer has enjoyed looking out in some areas along the trail and seeing only “what God has made, not what we have made.”

In the tradition of those who transverse the Appalachian Trail, Spencer chose a trail name: Piece of Cake, after finding the trail through the Georgia mountains to be an easy climb.

“Life is a piece of cake,” has been the theme on and off the trail for the 1972 Lexington Theological Seminary M.Div. graduate, who now co-pastors First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Birmingham with his wife, Mary Pat, whom he met while both were LTS students.

The social interaction with people along the way “is the best part of the trail,” Spencer said. “It’s the best of both worlds–the social interaction and Mother Nature.”

Along the way, although there are shelters intermittently along the trail, Spencer has spent some nights sleeping wherever he could lay his head. The hard part about that, noted a fellow traveler, is quite literally the rocks.
“No rocks, no music. In life sometimes we have rocks, but they can be songs,” Spencer noted.

The trail was full of life lessons for Spencer, who observed that when hiking it was easy to spend much of the time looking down, where “all you see are the mud and the rocks.”

The Spencers have two daughters and four grandchildren. His oldest daughter Holly serves as Associate Minister of the South Elkhorn Christian Church (DoC) in Lexington, Ky. His youngest daughter, Stacy, serves as a preschool teacher at Brookhills Church in Birmingham, Alabama. For more, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHqqFV2pDxM

Picking up the pieces

The howling storm. The sirens. Then throat-tightening fear in the moments after, when words would not come.

Lexington Theological Seminary alumnae Jill Cameron Michel and Fay Barnes Blevins minister at separate Disiples of Christ churches in Joplin, Missouri, but in a moment, they found their lives and ministries intertwined as an entire community found itself in crisis.

Michel, a 1998 graduate, is the pastor at South Joplin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Married to Jim, Michel has two children, Cameron and Teegan, and two step-children, Katy and John. When the deadliest tornado in recent U.S. history struck, they were gathered with the SJCC youth at the Michel home that Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, Michel noted, the youth would have been meeting as usual in a second-floor room at the church, where the roof would be peeled back like the lid of a can. Michel’s home was untouched.

Blevins, a 2010 graduate, is the first female pastor of  First Christian Church in Joplin and is married to Wesley. Blevins was on her way back from a church meeting about 20 miles away when “the sky suddenly turned black…and we heard the tornado warning.” She and an elder from the church took shelter under an underpass as the wind pushed and the hail pounded the car. Cell service was lost, and Blevins was unable to reach her husband for some time. She eventually found him at their apartment, remarkably undamaged despite the chaos around them. That day and in the weeks to follow, 162 lives would be claimed by the tornado.

FCC sustained very little damage, while SJCC was devastated. Most of the roof was gone and much water damage followed in the torrential rain in the days following the tornado. Whole communities were wiped away in the 13-mile path of destruction, and Blevins and Michel set to work immediately helping both parishioners and strangers find shelter, warmth, clothing, and grace. “It was baptism by fire–or wind,” Blevins says. Their own grief and shock were helped by the outpouring of support from around the nation. Their LTS family played an important part as current students rallied to coordinate supplies from their home churches, and alums and friends reached out with prayers and gifts as Blevins and Michel worked to help set up distribution centers and minister to victims. Blevins’ church opened its doors to Michel’s, giving them a place to worship while their church is rebuilt. Months later, there is still much work to do. The aftermath is not over. Winter clothes will be distributed from Blevins’ church in October. Families continue to struggle with lost loved ones, lost homes, lost jobs. So much loss.

Gifts of time, money and prayer are still needed, Michel noted. Volunteers from church groups, readily available in the first weeks, are fewer but just as necessary as rebuilding begins. “This is both a physical journey and an emotional one that we will be on for some time,” Michel said.

Picking up the pieces: Fay Barnes Blevins

I am the senior pastor of First Christian Church, Joplin. I ask people to call me “pastor,” or “Fay” or whatever as long as it’s nice. This is my first call out of seminary.

First Christian Church is the typical downtown church in small-city U.S.A. We have a long history of 135+ years, planting several other churches around town in that time, and now figuring out what God is calling us to do in this time and place. I am the first female pastor and the previous pastor retired after 29 years.

I was attending an Area Board Meeting about 45 minutes out of Joplin. We just finished our meeting and were preparing to have dinner-it was a church dinner and so….I felt the need to stay and enjoy…the dessert looked really good. I noticed several people looking at their smart phones and talking about the weather. As I finished eating, the Elder who was with me, suggested we might head back and “beat the storm.” So, we climbed into the car (I was driving) and headed towards Joplin. About 20-30 miles out, I can’t remember exactly, the sky become almost black and the wind was strong. Then the rain came down so heavy I slowed to a snail’s pace. We listened to the radio and heard there was a tornado warning. The weather continued to get worse and I could barely see. Semi’s were pulled off to the side of the road. (I had just watched a show on tornados that are hidden by walls of rain. People don’t see them until they’re swept up into them.) I decided to pull off the highway and find shelter. We pulled off at the next exit and pulled under a bride/overpass. There were several other cars there as well. We sat listening to radio, feeling the car trying to be pushed by the wind, and listening to the hail as it fell. The Elder and I tried to call our spouses, but there was no phone service. So, we continued to listen to the radio as they spoke of the tornado touching down in Joplin.
When the rain and hail let up some, we got back on to the highway and drove into Joplin. I still wasn’t able to get a hold of Wes, my husband. Then I heard the radio say, “There is complete devastation at 7th and Range Line.” I panicked as that was half a mile from our apartment and the tornado would have moved directly towards it. As we pulled into town we didn’t see much of anything except for tree damage, even though the radio reported mass destruction. I pulled up to my apartment complex and it was fine…not a shingle off or busted window! Just debris everywhere. I screamed for Wes and ran to our apartment to find he and the dog, randy, just fine, but all of us shaken. Wes had attempted to film the tornado from the balcony of our apartment, but when he discovered it wouldn’t work he went inside to take cover. Shortly, thereafter, we noticed the constant sound of sirens from emergency vehicles. That sound would be constant for the next 36-48 hours.
We didn’t have power or water in a our apartment and I wanted to check on the church and get numbers to call people. We headed to the church and our route didn’t take us anywhere near the damage, but there was absolute chaos in the streets. It tool 45 minutes to get to the church, when it normally took 15. Once I saw that the physical structure was sound, I opened our Family Life Center/Gym area thinking it could be used as emergency shelter. Within 2 hours churches from Kansas were delivering water, food, clothes, towels and soap. Within 3-4 hours, survivors of the storm were arriving. People covered in dirt, leaves and grass plastered to their body. Tattered clothes, wet and cold. All in shock and afraid. We served soup and coffee. We worked to help them find family and friends who would be looking for them. It was one of the most overwhelming moments of my life while at the same time being one of the most blessed. I don’t know who any of those people were or where they are now, I can only hope that we provided a bit of comfort and a sense of hope.
Our apartment was safe, but without utilities. We just closed on our first house the week before. It was left unharmed as well…though 75% of the homes we looked at were destroyed. We packed up towels, air mattress, toiletries, and a change of clothes and headed to our house. It was completely empty, but it had hot water and lights. There was no sleep to be had the first several nights. The next day I began the search for congregants and discovered a young 20-something couple who moved to Joplin about the same time we did, lost everything. They came and camped with us at our house for a week until we could find a more permanent solution. Which, coincidentally, was that they helped us move out of the apartment into the house and they assumed the lease on the apartment.
For two weeks I would search for people, trying to remember little tidbits of information I might have picked up on extended family members; picking the brains of others who might know something. All the members were found alive and accounted for…an amazing blessing, perhaps a real miracle. 14 families lost their homes, and over 30 families had severe damage or lost a job as a result of the storm.
The damage was/is incomprehensible. It was like the scenes from war movies…I thought I was watching “Saving Private Ryan” only without the tanks. Entire sections, neighborhoods, in piles of broken wood and glass. People wading through the debris were pitiful. Looking for any little thing they might be able to salvage.

Life since, has been a constant sense of inadequacy…for me, at least.

It’s been about listening to stories and making connections to resources. It’s been about being hospitable to our brothers and sisters in Christ as they need a place to worship, and being a place where people can give time and donations, and a place where people can find the things they need to make it another day. We operated a Distribution Center from Friday, May 27th to Sunday, September 4th. We still have our final winter clothing give-away on October 22nd (NO CLOTHES NEEDED!) It’s been a time of prayer and constant reminder to people that this storm was not punishment from God for some ill of an individual or nation.

It’s been a baptism by fire…or wind.

There is much left to do. The local government is coordinating with local organizations and churches are forming a Long Term Recovery Committee. Part of their work will be finding those who didn’t get insurance money or enough insurance money or didn’t get FEMA assistance and find them help to rebuild or repair. The LTRC will funnel financial and people resources into these projects. So, workgroups will be needed to feed the people resources necessary to rebuild.

I received MANY notes via Facebook and MANY phone calls checking in and offering us prayers. Their support has helped me immensely. I know I can call for a listening ear, a cheerleader, or a good laugh. Some even offer wise advice from time to time. Most of them reassured me that I was right where I needed to be, when I might have thought otherwise.

We are always happy to take financial donations directly to assist the community. Come volunteer when we begin rebuilding. We would love to see you! Support Week of Compassion as they do wonderful work and we appreciate ALL the support thy have given us these last, long months. Pray, pray, pray.

Our church is SO GENEROUS! With all the cries of fiscal concerns and budgetary worries here, there, and everywhere people have been generous with their time and their gifts. We received several emails, cards, and phone calls from people just wishing us well and keeping us in prayer. It’s an incredibly powerful/humbling moment to realize how many people might actually be praying for you. I have seen the Spirit at work in the church and it’s alive and well. I’m not sure how anyone could make it through a situation like this without the support of a faith community.

 

 

 

Picking up the pieces: Jill Cameron Michel

I am pastor at South Joplin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Married to Jim Michel, I have two children: Cameron and Teegan and two step-children: Katy and John.

South Joplin Christian Church was founded in 1903.  We average just under 100 in worship.  It is a congregation that although largely a traditional, mainline congregation, has been doing intentional work seeking God’s vision for the future.

On the day of the tornado my family was hosting the youth group at our home.  It was the last regular meeting of the school year and we had them out for a cook out.  So, when the tornado hit the youth group was at our home.  This was fortunate because we live north of town and although we had bad weather and large hail were out of the path of the tornado.  Had they met as usual at the church, they would have been meeting on the upper floor when the roof of the church peeled back.

The first we knew of tornado damage was when the parent of two teens called to say their friends had been hit and to ask us to keep her kids here while she and her husband went to help.  Because there were several church members who lived in that same neighborhood, my husband headed in to town to check on them while I remained with the youth and leader to feed the kids and check in with other parents.  Very quickly we began getting more phone calls and seeing reports on internet that damage was much more widespread than we originally thought.  We made contact with all the kids’ parents.  The only of our youth whose home was hit was the home of our male youth leader and his son – his wife and daughter were home at the time, but she called to say they were fine.  Michael, the youth leader, remained amazingly calm and stayed until we had made contact with all the kids’ parents and figured out where we were delivering everyone.  Michael, the youth and I headed into town.  I met another church member at the church and after assessing the damage there, we went further into the tornado zone to begin trying to locate families from the church.

Words fail me.  As people who have come to volunteer here can attest, it looks bad on television but it is nothing compared to being here.  On television you can look away, but when you are standing in the midst of the destruction there is nowhere you can look to get away from it.  Because the path was so large (6 miles long within city limits and ½ – ¾ miles wide) it was overwhelming.  Each day for at least the first week I was still discovering how far reaching the path of destruction was.  On the Saturday following our Sunday tornado I was driving volunteers to a site where they were going to work when I looked up and saw a neighborhood I hadn’t even known to worry about where people who had recently attended our church lived – I was overwhelmed with the reality that I hadn’t even known to be worried about them until then.  It took us a full two weeks before we had located everyone in the church who lost their homes.

As I mentioned earlier, our home was not damaged.  The church where I serve (South Joplin Christian Church) lost 1/3 of the rood (it simply peeled back like the lid of a sardine can) and many windows.  Because of the heavy rain that continued for the next two days, we received extensive water damage inside.  Half of the children’s classroom (top floor) had to be gutted and redone.  The sanctuary, narthex and Children Worship & Wonder rooms all had to be totally gutted.  The library and two adult classrooms in the basement as well as part of Fellowship Hall had to be redone.  There was a point when I could stand in the basement and see the sky!  Work is underway and we are hopeful that we will return to our building in November.  First Christian Church where Fay Barnes Blevins serves has been gracious to host us since the tornado.

Life has been an interesting dance between the usual and the unusual.  While the regular rhythm of life still exists – Sunday still comes every seven days, committees still meet, people still get sick and people still celebrate births and deaths, new school years and weddings, anniversaries and retirements – it is all done in the shadow of the tornado.  This means weddings have to be moved to different locations, babies have to born at different hospitals, funeral dinners have to be held at other churches, school starts in different buildings.  This also means that I am always asking the question of how even our usual things need to be different in light of the tornado and always paying attention to where people are in their grieving and healing processes.

As disaster relief people will tell you – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  About six weeks after the tornado I felt like we were finally taking that to heart.  At that point my workdays looked more like they had before the tornado.  Things that since May 22nd had felt urgent shifted as I realized they would be long time companions.

In addition to the usual work on ministry and tending to the special needs of folks in our congregation, I have been trying to keep aware of the activities of the Long Term Recovery Committee, have been helping coordinate work for work groups, have been fielding calls and emails from many who are interested in helping, and we are in the process of building a Mission Station (housing for volunteers who will come in the coming years) at South Joplin Christian.

There is no room to list the many things that are left to do.  For years we will be recovering and rebuilding.  This is both a physical journey and an emotional one that we will be on for some time.  Physical rebuilding has really just begun and at this point is mainly being done by those with resources (usually good insurance settlements).  In the coming years volunteers will be counted on to help with the many who do not have the resources to complete their rebuilding or repairs.

I did hear from many with whom I had built relationships at LTS and I heard from Sonny Wray on behalf of LTS.  It was helpful because these were people who were calling or emailing to check in but who also understood that my time was in high demand and so they were calls of comfort not calls that took much out of me.

Not only in Joplin, but in any place that experiences significant disaster, remember the recovery will take years.  What this means is that prayers, donations, gifts of time and energy will be needed for a long time to come.  It is easy to shift our attention to the newest disaster, but there is a real skill to finding a balance of remembering those who are still responding while also caring for those with new needs.

I also always go back to Amy Gopp’s (Week of Compassion) advice about waiting until communities are ready to actually go and help.  There was a need for immediate responders and many came.  There were also days when there were really too many volunteers for folks here to coordinate.  There will be a need for long term responders and we hope people will continue to come.  The key is to go at the time the community is ready for you and can use you.  It’s also important for people to understand that when they go to help they need to be able to not be a burden on those they are helping.  This means the best help comes from those who can provide their own transportation, find their own lodging (which is often offered by Disciples churches), provide their own meals (unless the local system offers meals), and often even contribute financially to the materials they will be using.

I have learned that the body of Christ is amazing.  I have watched churches and people of faith in Joplin working together in tremendous ways.  I have also watched as churches and people of faith outside Joplin have reached out a caring hand in ways I hadn’t ever thought of.  The responses people have made have been as if this was their own disaster.  I have been reminded that we are all part of one body and have seen the truth of the statement that when one hurts, we all hurt.

I have also learned a lot about what is helpful and some about what is not.  The ways people and churches have responded to us will forever change how I and the congregation I serve respond to other people’s disasters.  I continue to be overwhelmed with the generous hearts of people throughout our Disciples and UCC churches and beyond!

 

Creating community

Michael Junkroski was a church musician and a full-time business owner/operator in Florida when voices within–and without–began urging him to consider going to seminary.

“People in the congregation and my pastor approached me and said, ‘You’d make a good minister.’  The idea of going to a school where I could learn more about that and become someone who could minister to the ills of the world was extremely appealing,” Junkroski said. “But I have a business with my brother that we’ve had for 15 years, I was already implanted in my town, and leaving to go to seminary was impossible.”

Because there was no seminary close to his Florida home, he wasn’t sure when or how he would take that step.

Learning of the new program at Lexington Theological Seminary, with 2/3 of classes online, “was obviously a Godsend,” Junkroski said.

But the next part of the journey was a surprise. Junkroski expected to be largely on his own with 2/3 of the classes online. However, he quickly found that LTS students have a tight-knit community.

“My attachment to the people here has been pretty surprising,” he said. “We’re a very close group of people, really. We communicate with each other all the time, … through email and text chats and calls. We’re in touch with each other and supporting each other.”

That support is an important part of spiritual formation at LTS, he noted.  “Seminary pushes your buttons, and it needs to push your buttons, sometimes in profound ways,” Junkroski said. “Not only are we in the student body there for each other, but I found the faculty to be extremely accessible.” He noted that faculty often will have face-to-face chats via MegaMeeting, which “is a big, big help. It’s a very supportive environment. The biggest reason for the success of this program is the faculty. If we were left just doing the assignments online, it would be very cold and impersonal, but I feel I’m really involved in a community of caring people who  have my best interests in mind.”
IT Director Ben Wyatt says that the technology used by LTS (Edvance 360, Megameeting, PowerPoint and others) are used to enhance, not replace, interpersonal relationships. For example, online discussion boards within the LTS Online system give students a place to post prayer requests. Students also communicate offline.

“Technology is the medium we use at LTS to bring students together,” Wyatt said.
“At the same time, students are learning the concepts associated with ministry as well as these technological tools which, once they graduate, they could definitely integrate within their own church if they wish.”

M.Div. student Vernie Bolden of Virginia said he was “somewhat apprehensive” about the technological aspect of the new Seminary model when he enrolled last year. His father is a D.Min. alumnus of LTS, but “things have changed a lot,” since his father, Vernie Bolden Sr., graduated in 1975, said Bolden. He had sensed a call to ministry for several years but was working full time as a manager at a hotel in Roanoke and had family who needed him, as well as being involved in ministry at Loudon Ave. Christian Church. “There was no Seminary close by, so when I heard about the program at LTS and it was affiliated with the Disciples of Christ…it seemed the opportunity to pursue my call, and it has worked out very well.”

As with others beginning the new program, “I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I might be on my own,” he said. Instead, he found the technology easy to navigate and the gateway to a community of students and faculty.

“We support one another. We care for each other,” Bolden said. “I’m finding my faith is being burnished, in essenence. I’m learning about my strengths and areas where I need to grow. … I take it back (to my church), even if it’s just because I’m not the same person,” he said.

Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe is associate minister at First Christian Church of Las Vegas, co-owns a consulting company which oversees accessibility issues for the Miracle League, a baseball league for physically challenged children. He also works full time for a trade show company based in Las Vegas. He wanted to pursue an M.Div. but couldn’t leave his job, his church, and most importantly, his family. LTS offered the flexibility he needed.

However, Rippetoe worried that there would be no sense of community because of the online format and limited time together on campus; students attend on-site intensives in January and June. Those fears were quickly set aside as he bonded with his fellow students, faculty and staff.
“We didn’t form a community when we came together on campus. We were already a community. We are a community because we have a sense of being so grateful that we can be here to begin with,” Rippetoe said. “We come together with a sense of community and know enough about each other to have that mutal respect. This program is designed for people like us.”

It brings “more people to a Seminary experience so that we can lead more people to God and serve humanity,” Rippetoe said. Seminary leadership “stepped outside the comfort zone, changed the shape of their box, and created something that works…for the universal Church.”

Coming full circle

Those who know Rev. Janet Ehrmantraut also know that she has an affinity for turtles. Maybe it’s the quiet grace that draws her, with their slow and steady determination, or perhaps it’s the appeal of the round, hard shell–that protective circle–that allows the rain and thumps of life to go by without much damage. Either way, to those who know her, all of the above makes sense.

A 1983 graduate of Lexington Theological Seminary, Ehrmantraut embodied those qualities–among many others–as she served on the staff of the Christian Church In Kentucky as associate and regional minister. She also pastored at Antioch Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., and, most recently, at Central Christian Church in Lexington, where she was Minister of Pastoral Care.

Now, LTS welcomes Ehrmantraut as Mentor Program Coordinator, and in this role she helps new students find mentors in their communities.
It is indeed a coming home for Ehrmantraut, who once benefitted from having a mentor as a student at LTS.

But there is more to her story.

Near the end of her tenure at Central Christian Church in 2010, when she hoped to be making travel plans with her husband, Curt, she found herself facing an old enemy–cancer.

Instead of mapping out stops along Route 66, she and her team of doctors were mapping out chemotherapy and radiation treatments. How would it affect her? She did not know, but she took it one day at a time. The support of her husband and congregation, and having access to good health care are not taken for granted by Ehrmantraut.

“There is nothing I did to earn that. It was simply the circumstances of my journey, yet I ache for those for whom the journey is so much more difficult,” she said.
That sense of compassion and gratitude carry through to her new role, which she embraces with steady determination. “I owe this institution and its servants a great deal–for an excellent education and a community of peers and leaders that have influenced me since I walked through the doors in January of 1980,” she said. “And quite selflishly, the Seminary offered me a reason to get back into a community of ministry and use my brain and heart at a time when there was little else I could do. For that I am very grateful.”

Ehrmantraut finished her treatment regimen in February. She is enthusiastically working with regional ministers as well as local congregations and pastors in the areas throughout North America where LTS students live.

“She brings many gifts for ministry,” notes LTS President James P. Johnson.  “We are thrilled to welcome her.”
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