Ben Vineyard

Dear Trinity Community,

It wasn’t long ago that the seminary journey started. Now we’re crossing the halfway point with class 109: The Lutheran Confession of Faith. Dr. Joel Biermann is my professor. He taught an earlier class on Lutheran Distinctions. He’s a man full of energy and a passion for the Scriptures! Class time flies.

This class will build toward the question: Will you believe, teach, and confess the Lutheran understanding of the Scriptures? It’s a question I feel with great weight. The same question will be in my ordination. Again, I will feel it with great weight, yet also with great privilege.

The gravity of such a question is made light by considering the journey we all share together. It continues to fill me with happiness that I get to be in this process with you, among you. I am blessed to be considered a vicar, a future pastor among you and look forward to the years and stories in our shared future.

There are some special dates about this seminary journey:

Two weeks ago, I was interviewed by Professor David Lewis – a final element in being approved to be a pastor. Prof. Lewis and I talked, laughed and shared good stories. He told me I was part of a very, very great congregation as we talked through deeper theological and pastoral questions. The interview was vivifying! Prof. Lewis submitted my name for approval for candidacy and as of March 23 I learned I have been approved by the faculty of Concordia Seminary! Therefore, I am officially eligible and recommended by Concordia Seminary to receive the call you voted to extend to me.

April 7: this is call day for my class at the Seminary, where the call you voted to extend to me is officially extended. Then, upon academic completion of class 109, I will be eligible to accept that call.

July 8: this is my ordination day at Trinity, a Saturday. I look forward to celebrating that day with you. It’s after that point, Lord willing, that I officially become a Specific Ministry Pastor. Then, the final leg of seminary training occurs. After ordination, I will complete two more years of study, making it four years total. Then the journey will be finished. I’ll be trained and set as a pastor among you and for you.

One more note: Specific Ministry Pastors are different than traditional pastors. First, they’re trained differently. While there’s a great path of academic study involved, the SMP training is a bit more like apprenticeship and is localized to fit the needs of a specific people and place. It’s also, at this point of our LCMS history, a permanent call. A Specific Ministry Pastor is trained into a specific ministry, and while I’ve heard of SMP guys being called other places, that’s very rare to my knowledge.

May Christ bless you with his lasting peace,

Vicar Ben

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