“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28
I hoisted my laptop bag over my shoulder, preparing to head home from seminary. As I was passing through the lounge area I overheard a conversation: Calvary Community Church in Fullerton, California was looking for an Associate Pastor. This news piqued my interest because my wife received a promotion at her job and they expressed interest in having her transfer to the headquarters of her audit group in California. Hearing the news about Calvary, hearing my wife’s news, and discovering that her work headquarters was within close proximity of the church—the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me and ignited a fire within me to seek out this position in Fullerton.
After an e-mail and an interview with Pastor Jim Erickson, the church decided to fly our family out to candidate for the position. The whole candidating experience only confirmed what the Lord had in mind for Calvary Community Church and my family. A week later we received a letter of call, and on Mother’s Day I wrote my acceptance letter. From the first e-mail of interest to the acceptance letter, the process took about two months. The same week I sent out the letter of acceptance, Shelly’s transfer to California was approved. God opened doors so fast on this process that the two months felt like only two weeks. Now, as if that wasn’t enough to make our heads spin, God had one more surprise for our family. At Shelly’s twenty-week prenatal appointment, the ultrasound tech announced, “Twins!”
Shelly and I were shocked and excited. Our ten-year-old son Leif is thrilled to be moving to California and to be a brother to twin sisters.
With all this going on, what makes the move possible for us is Lutheran Brethren Seminary’s newly accredited online learning program. I can be a part-time student and a part-time pastor because this new program will allow me to finish my schooling while I serve God and his church in Fullerton, California. In my opinion, being in Fergus Falls, Minnesota to attend seminary would be the preferred choice. The technology cannot duplicate being involved within the seminary community and taking part in the friendships that form there.
Yet, the administration and faculty of our seminary is to be congratulated for implementing distance education for those seeking full time or part time learning. Today’s demands on families, churches, and pastors make it so that a three-year stay in Fergus Falls can be difficult, if not impossible. Distance education makes it possible for my family and others with similar stories to serve God and be trained up “according to His purpose for them,” wherever we may be.
Seth Leivestad is a third year seminary student completing his education while serving as an Associate Pastor at Calvary Community Church in Fullerton, CA.