Seminarians Worry About Where Their Call Will Lead

Administrator Says Most Are Concerned About Pay, Careers


RICHMOND, Va. - With trepidation, Union Theological Seminary's 250 students are beginning to circulate their resumes among search committees.

Seth Weeldreyer, 27, is concerned that a congregation might not be interested enough in theology and Scripture. "I hope I won't shut the mind off totally," he said.

After 10 years on college campuses, he also worries about the inconveniences of starting in a small town. "I'm sure there are not stores like Wal-Mart," he said.

Second-career seminarian Tom Waltz, a former corporate executive, wonders who wants to hire a 63-year-old. He also wonders about settling someplace that lacks the arts and a racquetball court. (He regularly whips seminary President Louis Weeks.) Still, he knows God will provide. "You have cable TV no matter where you go," he said.

Marian Carmical of Lumberton, N.C., worries about church politics.

"I've seen examples of church members running all over staff," said Carmical, 38. "I would not want to let someone else's wealth or standing in the church keep me from addressing problems."

Seminary administrator Susan Fox said most worry about pay (some start at $18,000 a year) and social life (singles should never date church members). Women also worry about bumping into the glass ceiling. Most offers still stop at associate pastor.

For all of it, Fox urges patience and understanding, the qualities shown by the pastor of the church where the KKK flier appeared. She quietly took it down, then used it as a launching pad to address the pain and bitterness that produced it.

Before they leave the sanctity of the Victorian Gothic campus, Fox usually gives her students one more piece of gritty advice: "Don't drive a Lexus in Chevy land."

But when they do reach the pulpit, said Kay Armstrong Sprouse, 25, of Fountain Inn, S.C., inconvenience gives way to inspiration. The job becomes a calling.

"It's a conviction combined with faith that church is a place for sinners," said Sprouse.

"That Jesus Christ can change lives. It's a desire to tell other people about that."

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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