Q: Why do you have to go all the way to St. Louis?
A: The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), a large church body of which St. John's (our home congregation) is a part, only has two seminaries - one in St. Louis and one in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After visiting St. Louis and much prayer, we felt that God was leading us to Missouri.
Q: How long is the seminary program?
A: Four years. We'll be in St. Louis for 2 years, then sent away somewhere in the country for the 3rd year for an internship (known as a "vicarage," and comparable to student teaching), and then back in St. Louis the 4th year.
Q: What kind of degree will Don earn?
A: It's called a Master's of Divinity, or "M.Div." for short. Once Don graduates and is ordained as a pastor somewhere, he'll officially be "Pastor Don" (or "Reverend" if you want to be really formal about it...but don't ever call him that!).
Q: When do you leave?
A: Somewhere around June 20-23, we're not exactly sure yet. We'll be driving across country and hope to arrive in St. Louis June 30 or July 1. We'll move into our apartment in July 1 and Don starts summer classes on July 9. We hope to be able to post to the blog while we're traveling to let everyone know where we are and how the adventure is going.
Q: Where will you be after the 4 years? Will you come back to California/Bakersfield?
A: We don't know. If Don decides he's done with school and ready for a "call," then the seminary will match us up with a church somewhere in the country that wants a new graduate to come be their pastor or associate pastor; we have almost no control over where that first church will be.
Q: What do you mean, "IF Don decides he's done with school"?
A: Don has considered continuing his education and earning a PhD after getting his M.Div...but that's a decision we won't have to make until the end of our second year at sem.
Q: How much does seminary cost?
A: The seminary estimates about $50,000 a year for a family of four. This includes tuition/books/fees, plus rent, food, utilities, health insurance, and incidentals. It is our prayer to attend and graduate from seminary debt-free (which is how we're entering seminary, thanks to God). It seems like a tall order from our limited, human perspective, but we know if it's in God's will, He will make it happen.
Q: Will either of you be working while at sem?
A: We expect to both work on at least a part-time basis, to help support us during school. The sem limits Don to no more than 12 hours per week at a job. Stacye will likely continue tutoring math privately, so she can also stay home with our daughters.
Q: Where will you live?
A: For the first two years we're there, we'll live in on-campus housing. We'll have a small, 3-bedroom apartment. We've heard that there are anywhere from 200-250 kids living in married student housing at any one time. We're really looking forward to our girls (especially Hannah, our social butterfly) enjoying such a unique experience. There's a fenced-in playground right out front so she can go to the "pawk" every day.
If you think of other questions that I haven't addressed, feel free to comment and ask. We'll answer to the best of our ability!