Churchwide president to begin seminary
Jennifer Michael, churchwide president of Women of the ELCA for the 2011-2014 triennium, is responding to a new call, this one taking her from Florida to Iowa. Next month Michael begins seminary at Wartburg Theological Seminary (Dubuque, Iowa).
“God has been leading me and directing me through these many months (or perhaps it is more accurate to say “years”) of discernment and spiritual formation,” Michael told synodical presidents in a letter earlier this year. “This has all culminated now in the sure knowledge that this is the direction I should follow in order to continue to grow my gifts for ministry. And the timing, well… that has been on God’s timetable also!”
Michael learned in early June that she has been awarded a full tuition scholarship from the ELCA Fund for Leaders, an endowed scholarship resource created to insure that faithful and promising men and women can accept the call to ministry and provide leadership for the ELCA. Since 2000, the Fund for Leaders has awarded approximately 700 full and partial tuition scholarships totaling over $5.9 million in tuition assistance.
This new path for Michael should have no negative impact on her role with Women of the ELCA. “I have had many discussions with the seminary staff and faculty regarding the level of duties and responsibilities I have as churchwide president of Women of the ELCA,” Michael reports. “They have each assured me that they will provide me with the support and latitude that I will need to continue to meet my obligations as president. The challenge will come for me to keep up the academic pace alongside serving on the board. On that front, I am confident that I will be capable of maintaining the tempo.”
Michael is not the first churchwide officer or board member to pursue a call to ordained ministry after serving on the churchwide executive board. Victoria Hamilton who served from 1993-1999 later went to seminary and currently serves as a pastor developer at St. John Lutheran Church (Jacksonville, Fla.). Diana Ceballos-Gonzalez, who served 1999-2005, recently graduated from seminary and has been called to El Redentor Evangelical Lutheran Church (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Two pastors served on the churchwide executive board after ordination, the Rev. Rosalind Braithewaite (2005-2011) and the Rev. Gwendolyn King (in the current triennium, 2011-2014).