Brother to Brother
By MLC Tutor Matthew Scharf WLS ’13
I was in my senior year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), and I didn’t know any of these guys. Unless one happened to be a younger sibling of a classmate or dating my little sister, I didn’t know them. But there they were, bounding off the bus that had left New Ulm early that morning. Some of my classmates and I were the “welcome wagon” to these men we hardly knew but still called our brothers.
Twice each year the students and faculty of WLS formally welcome to campus their younger brothers in ministerial education from Martin Luther College. Junior preseminary students attend a portion of the annual Mission and Ministry seminar at the seminary in February. Senior preseminary students join the seminary in late March for Eisodos, from a Greek word meaning “entrance.”
At the Mission and Ministry seminar, students are blessed to hear presentations from almost all scopes of synod ministry, from home missions to world missions, from congregational counseling to church building. They are inundated with valuable information from presenters who have lived their topics.
The Eisodos trip for seniors is an early welcome to the seminary for those who are nearing the end of their college studies. Participants walk away from this trip invigorated to finish their senior year strongly, on the verge of closing one chapter of ministerial education and opening another.
The focus of these two trips is different, but their purpose is ultimately the same: to encourage pastor-track students to stay the course.
I remember when I was an MLC student on these trips. Attending a seminar was educational, and receiving a detailed tour of the seminary was nice, but what I especially relished were the fellowship opportunities. I knew some of the seminary students who were a couple years ahead of me in school, but others I had never met. How would they react to having 40 strange college students on their campus? Would they ignore us and play the “cool senior” card? Not at all! In fact, the seminary students were more than ready to take us under their wing: showing us around campus, hanging out with us in the dorms, and inviting us to join in fellowship gatherings they hosted for us. These men, some of whom we had never met, treated us just like what they called us: their brothers.
When I became a seminary student, I wanted to do my part to make Mission and Ministry and Eisodos valuable experiences for our visitors from MLC. Following the example set for us, my fellow sem students and I reached out to these younger men we didn’t know. We showed them the ropes at the seminary, guided them to the right buildings for their seminars, gave them leads on jobs in the area (many of which are passed from sem guy to sem guy), showed the married guys places to rent, and hosted fellowship gatherings—with stellar entertainment!
When Mission and Ministry and Eisodos had ended for another year, the buses rolled west back to New Ulm. But everyone involved walked away with a renewed sense of purpose, encouragement for our work, and joy in the unity we share not as strangers, but as brothers.