Four members of the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church graduated from the Saint Paul School of Theology Course of Study program on Friday, August 1st.
The 13 candidates in the graduating class each completed 20 courses approved by the General Conference as part of the Licensed Local Pastor program. The Summer 2014 graduates included Eugene and Marilyn Moeller (appointment: Bowbells/ Mohall/Sherwood), Martha Brandt (appointment: White/Aurora/Sterling), and John Bergh (appointment: Kindred Calvary/Kindred Zion).
Marilyn Moeller, who co-pastors with her husband, was grateful for the experience, but admits to “doing a Happy Dance” following completion of her last assignment.
The Moellers were honored to serve Holy Communion at the recent commencement ceremony, which was held in the Wesley Covenant Chapel at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. “We made great connections with people from North Dakota to Louisiana. Some of them we graduated with, and some we simply encountered along the journey. One of my joys was to connect on social media with other candidates, not only from St. Paul, but also from other seminaries,” said Marilyn Moeller.
Classes and Homework
Eugene Moeller, appointed to Mohall/Sherwood/Bowbells, completed the Course of Study over the past 6 years. “The New Testament course was the most interesting. The instructors were excellent and extremely knowledgeable - they offered so much information - the learning was very intense.”
Like Eugene, Marilyn also said, “The Bible classes were the most intense, both Hebrew and New Testament.” The course work involved submitting term papers, and often coincided with Advent and Lenten seasons. She added, “My life will still be complete, even if I never have to write another bibliography!”
Campus on the Move
The Moellers said the campus at St. Paul had moved during their years of study. The original campus has been sold, and this is the year of transition to the seminary’s new home on the campus of the Church of the Resurrection. Courses this summer were actually off-site, since neither the old nor new classrooms were available.
Beginning with the winter session, all classes will be housed at the Church of the Resurrection campus. Eugene said there have also been changes in staff and leadership this year, but that the changes will strengthen the future of St. Paul’s in exciting ways.
Bringing it Home
When asked how the Course of Study will affect the Moellers local ministry and their work for the conference, Marilyn said, "The actual graduation doesn’t change things overnight, but it has certainly impacted their theology, church polity, and knowledge of church history."
She and Eugene have been applying their education over the last six years, and said some of the most enlightening courses were in pastoral care, learning how to work within local congregations. While those were often the most exhausting and personal courses, they have been very beneficial in enhancing the ways they work with individuals.
Eugene Moeller stated that although the Licensed Local Pastors program will never be a replacement for Master of Divinity programs and degrees, he truly appreciates the opportunity it has given him and Marilyn to serve the Lord through ministry, at a time in their lives when other pastoral options were not feasible.
Photo: The August 1st Graduates are (l to r): Eugene Moeller, Marilyn Moeller, Martha Brandt, and John Bergh. Photo courtesy of St. Paul School of Theology.
The Course of Study program effectively deals with the shortage of ordained pastors and provides an avenue for service for which they are very grateful. “Without this process,“ Eugene said, “many would be unable to serve in this capacity.”