National Lutheran Schools Week is being celebrated this week by Lutheran Schools across the nation. Concordia alumnus Jim Scriven recently wrote a letter to CSP praising the value of a Lutheran education and the difference it has made in his life. A school administrator in Anchorage, Alaska, Scriven is now trying to make a difference in the lives of youth by serving in a Lutheran school.
Jim Scriven’s letter to Concordia:
I am so thankful for Lutheran Schools. I never attended a Lutheran elementary school or high school. In fact, I didn't know they existed until I was well into high school and was thinking about going to a Lutheran college in order to go into church work. So how did that come about? Well, God used a product of Lutheran education - a pastor - to change my life forever.
My mother was raised in an LCMS home, and even attended Luther North High School (Chicago, IL), a fact she never told me about until I was mid-way through high school. She had married young, and my father was Catholic, so I was raised Catholic. We were a stereotypical traditional American Catholic family - I went to Catholic school, but we rarely went to mass. When I was 8 my parents divorced, and shortly after that we moved in with my grandparents for a while, which also meant we started going to church with them, a little LCMS English District congregation in Chicago that has since closed, Mt. Calvary. I started going to Sunday School, and I sucked the knowledge of God's Word up like a sponge. I loved the stories, the Sunday School songs, the potlucks, VBS - in fact, our lives quickly became greatly wrapped around the life of the church. After all, when your family is broke and struggling, where else can you go and be accepted, welcomed, and often fed for free! As I reached confirmation age in 1985 (by this time attending public school), the church had gotten a new pastor, fresh out of the seminary, an energetic young guy named Herb Mueller. This was a small church, so I was in a confirmation class of two. And it profoundly changed me. Even more than I realized at the time, my faith came alive during that year (7th Grade). We moved to Wisconsin at the end of the year, but God had used Pastor Mueller, a product of LCMS education, to grab me and make me His, body and soul.
So, I left Chicago knowing that I was going to be a Pastor, just like Pastor Mueller. Or so I thought. As I went through high school, and explored my options, I discovered there was such a thing as a DCE. That looked like it might be pretty cool, too - and you don't have to get up early to give a sermon every Sunday! Then, as I settled on Concordia College, St. Paul (a fine, fine institution of higher learning!), I discovered the world of Lutheran Schools, and learned I could combine my love for serving the Lord with my love for learning and schools.
22 years serving in Lutheran schools later, I am so profoundly thankful for what this has meant in my life. I've served on the staff of five different Lutheran schools, and been privileged to serve with amazing colleagues, members of my family in Christ, many as close to me as anyone I've known. I've been able to impact the lives of children in Louisiana, Minnesota, California, and now Alaska, and I've been doing this long enough now to know that I can measure that I've made a difference (with at least two former students even teaching in Lutheran schools now as well). I been blessed by an amazing partner through this whole ministry journey, my wife of 22 years (Judy), who has taught alongside me most of the way, herself a product of a Lutheran elementary school and Concordia St. Paul.
Lutheran schools make a difference:
- at the high school level, for a woman who would later return to the church when life got hard, and then encourage her son to attend a Lutheran college.
- for a boy whose family had fallen apart, who learned of the love of God through a Pastor trained by our LCMS education system.
- for a man who has been able to experience unbelievable joy in a calling that is so wonderful that I'd do it for free - if I had no bills to pay, of course!
That's my story. One last note - that young fresh Pastor that changed my life, probably had no idea of his influence. I believe he is the same Rev. Herb Mueller, Jr. who is now a District President - Southern Illinois District. If anyone has contact with him, you might let him know what God did to me through him!
Happy NLSW, everyone! And thank God for Lutheran schools.
In Christ's Service,
Administrator / Principal
Anchor Lutheran School