Just read through these fun stories of Lutheran Campus Ministry graduates! Thanks Pastor Mindy Roll, Brazos Valley Campus Ministry.
Paul Westbrook – Lutheran Volunteer Corps,
2012 Graduate of Texas A&M
Following four years with Treehouse and graduation from Texas A&M, I joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. LVC offers a year of service, while living on a very small monthly stipend with a community of other volunteers, and is centered on core practices of sustainability, simple living, communal living, and spiritual growth. I moved to Washington and worked on a farm that served as a group employment site for adults with intellectual disabilities, and I quickly fell in love. I learned how to recognize and celebrate the infinite worth in every person, and I encountered a work and passion that I never knew existed within me. I have now moved to Austin, and I am happy to report that I am getting connected into the food justice scene more and more everyday here, and hope to start my own gleaning/giving community garden in the coming months.
Kim Serry – Lutheran Volunteer Corps,
2012 Graduate of Texas A&M
My first year after graduation I had the opportunity to work as an Americorps member in a program that supported homeless young adults and youth aging out of foster care as they tried to establish stability and independent living in the face of tremendous obstacles. Then last year I worked as a member of Lutheran Volunteer Corps at an emergency meal site and overnight shelter that primarily served people experiencing homelessness. The formation I received in community at Treehouse moved me to engage on a deeper level with these issues than I would have otherwise. The consistent proximity and interaction with the poor (hungry/unsheltered, socially excluded, psychologically tormented…) of my own community had a profound impact on me; I experienced both a deeply felt complicity in their poverty/oppression as well as healing/conversion when I encountered their robust humanity and in turn recovered a bit of my own.
Amy Gulliksen – Young Adults in Global Mission,
2013 Graduate of Texas A&M
I am currently living and serving in East Jerusalem through Young Adults in Global Mission, learning about the occupation, what peace might look like, and where God is in all of this. It has been a difficult experience; nothing can ever prepare you for living life under military occupation. However, being in Treehouse helped prepare me to be with people who are grieving, have lost hope, or are facing despair. For in our grieving, our faith gives us hope; my time in Treehouse, from learning about liberation theology over a beer to serving breakfast tacos to migrant workers, helped me understand how to find this hope. Daily I pull from those experiences to enter more deeply into life in East Jerusalem.
Hannah Watson – Young Adults in Global Mission,
2014 Graduate of Texas A&M
I graduated from Texas A&M in May 2014, and I am now serving as a volunteer with Young Adults in Global Mission through the ELCA. I am based in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. I first learned about YAGM through a seminary recruiter who came to visit Treehouse my freshman year of college, and since that conversation I felt called to a year of service after graduation. Here, I work at three site placements; Cruz del Sur, a congregation of the IELU (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida), Fundación Petisos, an organization focused on the rights of children, and Cre-Arte, a center that provides creative workshops for differently-abled adults. I am learning so much everyday through my host community, and God continues to walk with me through new situations and questions.
Elizabeth Westbrook – Lutheran Social Services of the South,
2013 Graduate of Texas A&M
My time with Treehouse empowered me to become aware of the gifts I have been given of organization, communication, and empathy, and how those gifts align with my passion for the sacredness of human life. It is because of Treehouse that I was drawn to work at Lutheran Social Services of the South in Austin, TX. LSS is an organization that aims to end multigenerational abuse. My time at LSS has given me the opportunity to use my gifts in a way that responds to the things that God has called me to care deeply about.
Josh Muehlbrad – LEAD Intern
2014 Graduate of Texas A&M
My time at Treehouse made me realize that I wanted to do something more with my faith, and that really inspired me to seek out a pastoral internship with LEAD. This past summer, following my graduation from A&M, I shadowed Pastor Rich Nelson, working at Emmanuel in Burton for three months and learning about Burton Bridge Ministries. The internship helped me realize that although the church is changing, there are people who are working to help it move in the direction it needs to for the future.
Keri Petersen – Adult Confirmation Guide
2013 Gradaute of Texas A&M
After graduation I moved back to San Antonio where I got a job working as an Engineer at Southwest Research Institute. Soon after returning to San Antonio I started volunteering at my church (Zion Lutheran Church of Helotes) as a chair for the new capitol campaign and an adult guide to the confirmation class, and I went to Honduras on a mission trip this past summer. While I was a part of Treehouse I learned how to ask hard questions and wrestle with theological topics. My leadership position was primarily a Bible study leader, so I learned how to have open and welcoming conversations about faith. I learned to listen more carefully and learn from people with different experiences from my own. All of these skills are directly applicable to mission trips and volunteering with youth. Showing youth they are important and significant in this world brings them closer to God and allows them a free space to ask all the questions they have relating to life and faith. Treehouse was an incredible experience that
continues to guide my faith journey today.
Travis Meier – Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church
2008 Graduate of Texas A&M
I am serving as the Associate Pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, Texas. My time with Lutheran Campus ministry helped to affirm my call to be a pastor. The leadership of campus ministry, and community that it provided, challenged and nurtured my faith, and how I
share it, in a healthy way.
Heath Abel – Pastor, Covenant Lutheran Church
1998 Graduate of Texas A&M
I am the pastor at Covenant Lutheran Church in Temple, Texas and am a native of Texas, receiving both my bachelors and masters degrees from A&M. I attended the Lutheran Seminary Program of the Southwest. When I first came to Aggie Lutherans I was looking for a place that welcomed the deeper questions about God. What I found there were real people and authentic relationships. (I also met my wife, Erika, there and thank God for that.) This shapes the way I do ministry today. I welcome people no matter where they are on their journey. And I know that through conflict we find strength. Through death we find life. And the Spirit is still leading me toward healing and peace in Jesus name.
Heather Anderson Hansen – Professor, Texas Lutheran and Seminary Student, Luther Seminary
1995 Graduate of Texas A&M
I currently serves as a lecturer at Texas Lutheran University in the Theology Department, while also pursuing a M.Div from Luther Seminary and pursuing ordination in the ELCA. I have a long history with youth ministry, having obtained an MA from Luther in Youth & Family Ministry, then serving for 12.5 years as youth director in a congregation and also as the Synod Youth ministry Coordinator for the Southwest Texas Synod. Campus ministry gave me the opportunity to use my God-given gifts in participation and leadership with my peers as well as the congregations that hosted us. It was a place where I could learn who I was as a person of faith and determine what vocation meant for me. It’s also where I made a number of life-long friends, experienced the love, guidance and support of exceptional adult mentors, and began to realize the true gift of God’s incarnational presence and grace through others.
Bob Ierien – Pastor, Lebanon Lutheran Cooperative Ministry
1996 Graduate of Texas A&M
I’m currently serving as one of the pastors of the Lebanon Lutheran Cooperative Ministry, a co-op of four Lutheran congregations in Lebanon, PA. LLCM was formed in January 2014, and grew out of the recognition that we can do more together than we could do separately. The four congregations share ministry resources and opportunities to build capacity for sharing the good news in Lebanon. My particular interests in ministry are stewardship, outreach, faith formation, spirituality, and community engagement. Right now I’m working on helping the congregations shift from focusing on scarcity to focusing on abundance, and on developing a strategy to help us become an “inside out” faith community (one where everything we do inside leads us outside to bless the communities we live and work in).