MDiv Student Addy Stuever on Environmental Justice and Rural Ministry
For incoming MDiv student Addy Stuever, the call to ministry was deeply entwined with her passion for justice. In fact, her passion for justice is so strong that during college, Stuever initially anticipated that she might pursue a career in politics. “I expected that I would go into public policy or international development,” Stuever says. She not only studied these fields through her Environmental Studies and Sustainability major, but also threw herself into practical applications of what she was learning. “I got myself an internship with the Senate Agricultural Committee. I went to two United Nations Events a representative of 4-H.” These experiences confirmed for Stuever, that her interests in environmental justice and the success of rural communities were something that she wanted to pursue throughout her life.
However, when it came time to consider next steps, Stuever had a stark realization: “I wasn’t done learning,” she says. Furthermore, she realized that the things that really spoke to her about her major were the opportunities for engaging in systems thinking and working directly with communities to come up with solutions for persistent problems. With a family deeply rooted in ELCA Lutheranism, it wasn’t a surprise to many that “somewhere around Thanksgiving of 2021 is when I went, ‘Oh, hey, family, I think I might go to seminary!” Stuever remembers. For Stuever, attending a seminary that shared her justice-oriented values and that was within driving distance of home in Michigan proved to be crucial: LSTC proved to be the perfect fit.
Stuever’s family was universally supportive of her decision. In fact, it was a call with her great aunt Joan that led her to apply to the ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship to support her journey at LSTC. In telling her aunt about her plans for graduate school, she said, “There’s probably a lot of scholarships available. I just donated to the Fund for Leaders. You should definitely check it out.” A couple of months later, Stuever applied, and was awarded a full-tuition scholarship that supports students attending ELCA seminaries with the intent of becoming a rostered minister of either word and sacrament or word and service. “It means for me that I can attend seminary coming right out of my undergrad,” Stuever says. “It’s really helpful for me.”
For Stuever, the path ahead is now clear and exciting: “I want to be a rural pastor,” she says. “[In areas like the one in which I grew up] the Church really was the center of the community…my vision for rural ministry is to build community centers, build places where young people and their parents and anyone, even if they don’t attend church regularly, comes for community events… and to experience life as a community.” Perhaps that looks like serving the Church she currently attends with her family in Michigan, or another like it. Stuever is open to anything and remains excited about the prospect of serving communities around the country. But, as she says with a smile, “it would be lovely if I could be right back home.”