Lining Up to Take the Call
Andy Berry remembers a time when he was a teenager, and his grandfather asked his grandchildren to form a line.
Noting that every good family should have a pastor, his grandfather pointed to Andy.
Andy was intrigued by the vote of confidence, but uncertain. The thought of becoming a pastor felt right. But he wondered: "How do I know I'm the one?"
So, he began to ask people whose opinions he respected.
A member of Andy's church, Hope Lutheran Church
in Walker, Minn., told him, "You have a nice voice to be a pastor." And his godfather told him, "God will make it painfully obvious."
Andy's questions led to his deepening discovery of faith. Attending retreats held by the ELCA Northeastern Minnesota Synod
showed him that his church was bigger than First Hope.
For me, [my conversation with Bishop Hanson] made the church tangible and everything approachable.
- Andy Berry
Attending the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) Youth Gathering in Atlanta in 2004 provided Andy with the perspective of a church that cares deeply for its younger members.
There Andy found himself in a casual conversation with a "nice, friendly man" — a conversation that took on greater significance when that very same man later took the main stage and was introduced as the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA.
"For me, [my conversation with Bishop Hanson] made the church tangible and everything approachable," Andy says.
Two summers spent as a camp counselor at Camp Vermilion in Cook, Minn., part of Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry, were "life-changing. I had more confidence in myself and my abilities," he says.
Andy found the final answer to his question — "How do I know?" — after completing his application for seminary.
His answer was a feeling, one of peace. He entered Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, after graduating from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn.
Andy advises other young adults considering their calls to look to their community for support, just as he did. "Don't sit on it," he says, "talk to others. When I spoke to others, people were affirming."
When the 24-year-old graduates from seminary in 2012, he plans to answer his call. "I'm ready to do what God made me to do — be a parish pastor."