Melissa Hrdlicka: At home in both the woods and the big city

Melissa Hrdlicka on a CTA train

As a graduate of Luther College, Melissa took advantage of the travel stipend it offered to visit seminaries. She visited several, but chose LSTC sight unseen. Well, a “site” did play a role. On our website, she learned about the Public Church Fellows program and that the seminary is Reconciling in Christ. She was also swayed by A Center for Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice.

With full scholarship and the monthly Public Church Fellow stipend, living is easier for her than it was last year—when she lived on $100 a month during her year of public service with the St. Joseph Worker Program.

She considered Duke Divinity School with a dual degree in social work at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and thought she might pursue prison ministry. She also knew plenty of people in the Twin Cities, especially after her year of service there, but also decided against Luther Seminary.

“I’m far enough out of my comfort zone here but not too far to hinder my growth,” she said. “I feel challenged.”

Last year she shared a house with seven women, had college friends nearby and was part of a community band. She left that community for LSTC, where she knew no one. Although she grieved that familiarity, she rebuilt community here.

Second semester feels more settled, she said. She found the city and location of her apartment to be loud. And although she’s comfortable navigating the transit system, everything takes longer—from getting to a grocery store to the nine-hour bus ride home to Green Bay.

 “I love my professors, have wonderful classes and discussions. And I’m challenged in a good way.”

Melissa has spent several summers working at Lutheran camps, and hopes to one day be a camp director. But she also wants to be a parish pastor. In her bio for LSTC she wrote, “When someone asked me to preach for a youth group lock-in I felt the Holy Spirit move and God call me to be a pastor.” To prepare herself for ministry, she majored in business management and minored in religious studies.

She finds God in social justice movements, big cities, and the woods.

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