These three pastoral ministry graduates from Australian Lutheran College are stepping out in faith to begin their first assignments in 2019. Here they give us some insight into what has led them to answer their call to service.
Mathew von Stanke
Family: Wife Elise, daughter Lily, 8, sons Aaron, 5, and Noah, 1
Home congregation: Tuggeranong ACT
Assigned to: Newcastle NSW
Who were the most influential people in your life growing up? My parents and grandparents. My youth leaders and camp leaders were significant role models as well.
Who are the most influential people now? Though they have both passed away, my Dad and grandfather continue to inspire me and influence who I am probably more than anyone else (except Jesus!).
What did you do before you went to Australian Lutheran College (ALC)? I worked as a teacher in an independent Christian school in Canberra. I also worked for Anglicare in Canberra as a youth worker/teacher.
Who or what encouraged you along the journey towards beginning pastoral studies? In Year 12, friends, pastors and teachers tried to have me consider pastoral ministry. It wasn’t until I had been teaching for nearly five years that memories of these conversations niggled away until I could ignore them no longer. Pastors Neville Otto and Greg Fowler also helped me to finally come to terms with the idea.
What is your most relied upon Bible verse and why? It’s hard to say which parts of Scripture have been most important. But, as I prepare for pastoral ministry, I have found much comfort in Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.
The most important thing people need to know about God is … that he loves you, no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. He made you, he loves you and because he loves you, he died for you and saved you. Growing in the understanding of his love for you changes your life.
Family: Married to Elizabeth (Beth)
Home congregation: Hobart Tas
Assigned to: Rainbow Parish Vic
Who were the most influential people in your life growing up? Mum and Dad, definitely, but also our pastor and other relatives, my paternal grandmother in particular.
Who are the most influential people now? The same as before, but with my wife in addition.
What did you do before you went to ALC? I worked in an independent hardware shop for a while, which I enjoyed greatly. After they closed, I worked at Eastside Lutheran College Hobart, as a bus driver (among other things).
Who or what encouraged you along the journey towards beginning pastoral studies? My family has always been very supportive and encouraging. So have my friends, and pastors John Heidenreich and [the late] Ben Mogg. Nor can I forget the support and encouragement of my wife, Beth. God himself has also encouraged me along even when I personally felt like not going through with it.
What is your most relied upon Bible verse and why? Psalm 107:1, ‘O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever’. I like this text, because it reminds us of God’s love and goodness, even when things aren’t going so well.
The most important thing people need to know about God is … that he isn’t a killjoy old man in the clouds waiting to strike us down for the smallest indiscretion.
Family: Wife Bonnie and 10-month-old daughter Isla
Home congregation: Salisbury SA
Assigned to: Strathalbyn Parish SA
Who were the most influential people in your life growing up? My parents, several teachers who taught me at high school, and my pastor.
Who are the most influential people now? My wife and daughter, as they are great reminders of the depth of God’s love for me. Several pastors have also been influential in my pastoral formation.
What did you do before you went to ALC? Studied a Bachelor of Science (Animal Science), and worked as a youth worker in a Lutheran school.
Who or what encouraged you along the journey towards beginning pastoral studies? My pastor at Salisbury, Reverend Wayne Boehm, first encouraged me to pursue pastoral ministry studies. God then used a variety of other people and youth ministry experiences over several years to lead me to ALC. Matthew 6:33 was a key verse that the Holy Spirit spoke through to finally convince me to follow God’s call.
What is your most relied upon Bible verse and why? There are too many to choose from! One would be Philippians 4:6–7, as it reminds me to come to God in prayer to receive peace when I’m stressed or anxious.
The most important thing people need to know about God is … his love and mercy are greater than the darkness and our sinful hearts.