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You read it correctly. Messiah is hosting not one, but two pastoral interns for '14-'15!
Greetings Messiah Lutheran! Hello from Luther Seminary. (Letter from Ben and Kristen written in August) We are Ben and Kristen Eisele, and we will have the privilege of serving and learning with you as intern pastors starting this September—and the dubious duty of following in the footsteps of our dear friend and your current intern, Joe Natwick. (We're not as cool as Joe—nor do we have as great of hair—but we'll do what we can to measure up.) We're excited to be placed together in such a vibrant community of faith, to discover how our individual and shared gifts will grow, to learn from a talented pastor-couple in Peter and Kathy, and to participate in God's mission with you all. So, in order for you to get to know us a bit better, we'll introduce ourselves.
I was born in western South Dakota, grew up in northern Wisconsin, and have called Sioux Falls, South Dakota home since 2000. My dad, Jeff, is a Lutheran pastor currently at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, and my mom, Katherine, is the family and children's ministry coordinator there. I have one younger brother, Sam, who is a high school Spanish teacher. As a family, we enjoyed camping trips, time on the lakes of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and watching the occasional Minnesota Twins game (re: "loss").
I attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls. I had no plans on attending seminary, but sometimes God laughs at plans, and I gravitated to studies in Religion, Philosophy, and English. I also played in some music ensembles, traveled to a few countries, worked with campus ministry, played some intramural ball, and found Kristen. We began dating our senior year, and volunteered in Costa Rica together for a few months after graduating. When we returned, I worked for four years in Augustana Admissions as an Assistant Director, then started seminary at Luther in St. Paul after playfully wrestling for years with my sense of call and vocation. In my free time, I enjoy reading (for fun! Novel for seminarians...), skiing, basketball, aspiring to run, and (nerdy) board/card/video games. And Netflix.
Like Ben, I am also a pastor's kid; my dad, Greg, works for the Good Samaritan Society, and my mom, Gail, works for one of the Lutheran churches in Sioux Falls. I was born in North Dakota but spent most of my childhood in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Growing up with three brothers—Josh, Luke and Dan—was a happy, somewhat riotous experience, and I'm so glad our family has expanded to include more females: one sister-in-law, Erin, and two of the world's sweetest nieces—Sophie and Maddie.
South Dakota was such a great place to be that I decided to stay after high school, attending Augustana College. That was a good decision for several reasons: aside from the great education, I was able to do a lot of traveling, including a semester in Ecuador, major in English and Spanish, and I met Ben!
After graduation and volunteering in Costa Rica, I worked at a domestic violence shelter and then at Augustana before discerning that God was calling me to seminary. I moved to St. Paul and enrolled at Luther in the fall of 2011, and have been blessed to spend these last three years exploring and deepening my gifts and passions for ministry. This spring I am wrapping up my senior year of classes, which means that my internship year will be my last of seminary. When I'm not studying (which is less often than I'd like), I enjoy cross-country skiing and generally being active, cooking, traveling, reading and trying to knit.
Ben and Kristen
We were married in August, 2013 at Sprit of Joy after being together for five years. We like to tell people that after eight months of marriage, we pretty much have things figured out. We're kidding. But life is good, and we're eager to see where it takes us, and the next chapter with Messiah will be formative in our continued discernment of this vocation thing.
We're in seminary because we continually find hope and life in the old, old, stories we as the church tell. The way God moves in people and God's church is exciting. Neither of us make claims to have everything figured out in how God or God's creation works. We do claim that wrestling with questions is the business of faith, and we look forward to participating in this with you. We're so excited to get to know you, and be part of life with Messiah. You'll be in our prayers; please keep us in yours.
Until September! ~Ben and Kristen