Sunday, September 7, 2008

Concordia Seminary Field Day!

After the orientation activities ended on Friday, Concordia Seminary Field Day followed on Saturday! This activity is organized and staffed for the benefit of the whole seminary community by the Student Services organization with a great deal of volunteer help from the student body and their families.

The morning was the main time of activities for the kids (there were "big kid" activities scheduled throughout the day). A little area in our park near the Woods (our apartment complex on the west side of the campus) was set up with face painting, a wading pool with prizes hidden under bubbles, ball throwing games, T-shirt painting, and a "family as team" contest to see who's dad could put on a t-shirt that had been folded, soaked and frozen solid. (Our neighbor's in the next building won!)

The highlight of the morning activities for the kids was a firetruck from the city of Clayton spraying water on the whole company for a very long time. A couple pictures of the fun are included in this posting. (As a humorous side note, the water supply about fifty yards down from the fire hydrant busted and was rendered inoperable for out seven hours shortly after the event... coincidence?)

The day ended with yet another sponsored picnic at Luther Statue Park, on the east side of campus. This event was pretty low key; imagine a really large church potluck that is very well attended. After everyone enjoyed their fill of BBQ, pasta salad, punch, punch (or water), many sat around talking as the sun went down. Others (especially those of us with children) moved our conversations away from the tables deeper into the park, where our children worked off their sugar playing some combination of tag and "chase me! chase me!".

I volunteered to help clean up this event, which was a considerably larger task than I had expected. But as my classmate Paul said: "I was undoubtedly going to help clean up anyway; I might as well volunteer for it."

On the whole, a very sweet day...

New Student Orientation Week

There's not much I can say about the experience of orientation week beyond simply to note its arrival and its passing.

My fellow "new students" and I spent much of Wednesday through Friday participating in "get to know your classmates" discussions centered on the unique challenges and opportunities associated with pastoral formation at the seminary. These discussion were facilitated by Dr. Hartung, the Dean of Ministerial Formation. Although I'm not ordinarily a fan of "group encounter" discussions, the topics were on every one's mind and the shared concerns expressed were, for the most part, valuable.

The highlight of Friday was registration for classes and the information fair in the adjoining rooms. Perhaps "registration" is not the right way to describe it. In the words of Dr. Gibbs, the first-year student advisor: "although we are a Lutheran seminary, the first-quarter registration process is very Calvinistic". In other words, they register your for your classes and sections and then hand you your your schedule. You are predestined for your assigned schedule!

One of the surprises for the day (there were several) was learning that I was assigned to the honors Hebrew Readings section taught by Dr. Saleska. Apparently I scored higher on my qualifier than was wise!

Another surprise from registration was receiving my "Institutional Module" assignment. As I've mentioned elsewhere, seminarians are assigned a field work congregation, which provides us an "internship" within the "standard" congregational context; these assignments have not been communicated to us. In addition to this, we also do two modules during our first year: one in institutional ministry, another in cross-cultural ministry. I'm happy to say that I've been assigned to work with Lutheran Senior Services. I will find out more about this at a special meeting scheduled for LSS field workers on Thursday of this week; look for another posting on this topic then.

At the information fair, we received a number of gifts from organizations and endowments that support the seminary: a gift certificate to purchase a clergy shirt at the bookstore; a copy of Pieper's Dogmatics, vol. I. and a gift certificate for the Kolb and Wingert edition of the Book of Concord. The first two were gifts from the Seminary Guild and the last from John E. Meyer Memorial Alumni Book Endowment Fund. As I've mentioned before, the constant flood of support and gifts for us and my fellow seminarians is humbling.

Grant's Farm

While my parents, Arthur and Dorothy Rosenkoetter, were in town to visit before the start of the quarter, we took a short trip to visit Grant's Farm on Saturday, 30 August. Grant's Farm was originally a sixty acre property given to Ulysses S. Grant by his father-in-law, Frederick Dent. It was later purchased by the Busch family (who, until recently, owned Anheuser-Busch breweries) and hosts the Busch family mansion.

Of course, we didn't go to visit the mansion! The Busch family has maintained an animal park on the grounds and it is also where the world famous Clydesdales are housed, fed and trained. Another draw was the promise of two free samples of Anheuser-Busch product at the Bauernhof at the end of the tour of the animal park.

The facility uses trams to shuttle visitors from the parking lot to the main part of the animal park. This ride takes visitors past Grant's Cabin. Our tram guide showed a great sense of humor with the following: "A new Presidential Library was constructed on the back side of the cabin a couple of years ago." (The only thing in view behind the cabin is an outhouse...)