God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. I began this journey toward Ordination when I was just a teenager. God told me that someday I would be a Priest. I politely told Him that there was just no way—at least not yet. That was my answer for a long time, until just a few years ago.
When we began the Circles of Light in the Diocese of Fond du Lac, God told me to join a Circle. I told Him the only way I could possibly do that considering my family dynamics and obligations, my church commitments, my job commitments, my garden, my life, my everything...was if we met in Merrill. Well, God brought it to Merrill. Long story short, we didn’t continue to meet in Merrill because our Circle included five women as far north as Merrill and as far south as Sheboygan. But I was already hooked. God orchestrated the first step and I followed.
After completing the second Circle of Light and meeting with the Commission on Ministry, others heard God’s call for me too. Again, having the same life circumstances as before, going away to Seminary is just not an option for me. I often wish I could have that experience, but I know it’s simply not my path.
I began a guided study toward Ordination, which I’ve been told is an ancient way of preparing for ministry. So far I have completed courses in Old Testament and New Testament and am mid-way through Church History. I have worked with our Bishop and with Father McAlpine as well as read a number of texts and other books, watched countless videos and sought out information relevant to my studies. I recently took a Chaplaincy Training through the IFOC and although I’m choosing not to seek licensing through them, the information was invaluable and the relationships I formed are an absolute gift.
Ascension in Merrill is the main focus of my ministry. I lead our Youth Ministry program, I serve as Senior Warden, I’m a Worship Leader and preach every few weeks. I’m excited to see what God is up to at our little church and I feel humbled and blessed that I get to be a part of it.
Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I juggle a full house, a full time job, and an active ministry as I attempt to learn all I need to learn in order to become the Priest God called me to be. I rest in the knowledge that God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.
Blessed Beyond Measure,
Erik Evenson is a Seminarian from the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac. His sponsoring congregation is St. John the Baptist, Wausau. He recently sent this letter to update the diocese about his seminarian experience. Please keep Erik and our other seminarians in your prayers.
Dear Diocese of Fond du Lac,
It’s the start of my middler year here at Seminary of the Southwest. We miss being with all of you back in the Diocese of Fond du Lac but are happy the process is moving forward. We are just getting out of the hot summer temperatures here is Austin. During August we had a string of 20 days that the temperatures were over 100 degrees. The positive of that is that I am loosing weight. I have almost 80 pounds lost since I left for Seminary last year. Amy is doing well with her job she works as the marketing and creative manager for Diamondback branding. And our wonder pup Gus is a positive member of the community (our cook saves scraps for Gus, and he is officially allowed in the buildings on campus.
This semester my study load is very big, the positive of that is that I am very interested in my course work so it is not a burden. I am taking the following classes:
My field parish work officially began. I will be robed and serving at the altar each Sunday. My supervisor said this is the best way to get comfortable behind the altar. I am really looking forward to this part of my formation. The school aspect is of course important, but the field parish (and participating in CPE) is where the rubber meets the road. My work study this year is in the Library I try and pick up as many shifts as they let me to help make ends meet.
I look forward to getting to see you at the Diocesan Convention in October. I will be flying back to attend convention and preach at St John's.
Thank you all so much for all your help guidance and prayers. I/we could not do this without you and you mean the world to us.
Take Care and God Bless from Austin
Yours in Christ
If you would like to provide financial support for Erik, you may send a check payable to Seminary of the Southwest, 501 East 32nd, Austin, TX 78705 with "Erik Evenson" in the memo and a note to add it to his educational expenses account.
Julie Hendrix is a Seminarian from the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac. Her sponsoring congregation is St. Thomas, Menasha. She recently sent this letter to update the diocese about her seminarian experience. Please keep Julie and our other seminarians in your prayers.
Dear Diocese of Fond du Lac:
As I am starting my second year of seminary at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, I thought it might be a good time to give an update as to how I’m doing.
Nashotah is located about 35 miles west of Milwaukee, close to Oconomowoc, Delafield and Waukesha. Nashotah House is a wonderful community -- it has been super supportive of me and my family -- I am very blessed to be a part of such wonderful people!
So, last May, I completed my first year of seminary -- I took a variety of courses ranging from Ascetical Theology, Church History, Old Testament, Hebrew, Church Music, Homiletics, among others. My favorite course has been Church Music because it spoke to the integration of the liturgy and music -- something that everyone is interested in! I also enjoyed my Homiletics class very much -- preaching is such an awesome responsibility, so to do it well and to get good feedback both from my professor and my peers was invaluable.
This coming term, I am going to be taking Greek, New Testament I, Historical Theology, Church History II, Liturgy II, and Student Pastoral Ministry.
As part of our time here at Nashotah, we are required to attend a local church -- hopefully one in which we will serve as a seminarian. I attend St. Matthias in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Fr. David Simmons is the rector. Fr. Simmons is a Virginia Theological Seminary graduate and an oblate of the Order of Julian of Norwich. The congregation is lovely and very welcoming. They have been very supportive of me and my family.
This past summer, I spent most of my time in Clinical Pastoral Education. This course was probably the toughest, yet most beneficial course I have taken yet. I served as a chaplain in Bethel Homes in Oshkosh. While there, I made daily pastoral visits to people who were in the independent living apartments, the assisted nursing apartments, and the full care nursing home. I led worship services twice a week, Wednesday and Sundays. I got very attached to “my people” and miss them terribly already.
Last year, I was a Choral Scholar member -- the Nashotah House choir, a 4 part choir, sings every day, and travels to various churches and cathedrals to perform. I was an alto and very much enjoyed my time learning how to sing Anglican chants.
This year, I will be a sacristan. A sacristans are students who facilitate twice daily offices and daily Mass which is the core of our community life at Nashotah House. We help train those who are serving in various functions of the chapel life, whether they be a lector, thurifer, torch bearer, eucharistic minister or other functions.
Finally, my family is doing great -- in fact, I recently became a grandmother for the first time! I’m thrilled because he is a very happy, calm baby. My kids, Daniel, Susana, and John are doing wonderfully -- and my husband, Steve, is happy and continuing his good work in Ghana, Africa.
Thank you all for your prayers and support -- I know that without them, I could not do the work I am doing and want to do.
If you would like to provide financial support for Julie, you may send a check payable to Nashotah House, 2777 Mission Road, Nashotah, WI 53058 with "Julie Hendrix" in the memo and a note to add it to her educational expenses account.
Julie Hendrix, a member of St. Thomas, Menasha, will attend Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin. She is discerning a call to the priesthood. The Diocese of Fond du Lac provides $7,500 for each of her three years of study primarily from the budget of the diocese with some support from other endowments restricted for seminarian support. Your prayers for her and her husband, Steve, and their three children, Daniel, Susana, and John, are encouraged. Here are some comments from Julie as she begins this journey.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be attending Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin beginning in late August. I will be living there for 3 years while I complete my Masters of Divinity program.
When I first visited Nashotah in November 2017, I felt a call to attend there – the classes, the worship, everything about it spoke to me. As many know, Nashotah House was founded in 1841 and is Wisconsin’s oldest school of higher learning. I will be one of 14 new residential students this year. Nashotah House currently has about 90 students total, both residential and online.
I am extremely grateful for my extensive church family – they have guided and supported me every step along this journey – I am beyond grateful for their continuous love: St. Thomas parish, my Bible study, Double Portion, my Circles of Light (both 1st and 2nd!), my wonderful friends from church camp (a long time ago!), Happening, and Cursillo. Each and every person has been a guidepost for me.
After graduation, God willing, I plan to return to the Diocese of Fond du Lac where I will continue this journey with this wonderful church community we have in our diocese. I ask for your continued prayers both for me and my family as we begin this new adventure.
Erik Evenson, a member of St. John, Wausau, will attend the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He is discerning a call to the priesthood. The Diocese of Fond du Lac provides $7,500 for each of his three years of study from the Fey Endowment for Seminarians. Your prayers for he and his wife, Amy, are encouraged. Here are some comments from Erik as he begins this journey.
I am happy to announce that I will be attending the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX beginning in August and will be living there for three years while I complete my Masters of Divinity program.
We first visited SSW in November 2017, and immediately felt at home in the city and among the other seminarians. In fact, the first day we were there, my wife, Amy, told me that this was the place for us and I wholeheartedly agreed. Seminary of the Southwest is relatively small (around 130 students) and an emphasis is put on building relationships among seminarians and the community which we serve.
In addition to my MDiv coursework, I also plan to take additional coursework in the Chaplaincy program in order to build my skills for ministry within hospice/nursing home settings, as well as with at-risk youth.
We are extremely grateful for the encouragement and support we’ve received from both our parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Fond du Lac. The scholarships I received will go a long way toward helping my family offset the expenses that come with going to graduate school and relocating to another state. As you can imagine, the cost is substantial. We are still asking for donations to help us offset moving expenses, health insurance, and going down to one income. Our donation page can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/help-erik-with-seminary
After graduation, we are excited to return to the Diocese of Fond du Lac and for to continue my spiritual journey among our family and friends. You can follow along on our family adventures on our blog at: awisconsiniteintexas.wordpress.com.