Behind the Scenes

I’ll call them unsung heroes. I know that’s cliché. But I want to sing their praises so that they are unsung no more.

I’m talking about the seminary support staff. They’re the ones who make the seminary run. If our job is to form pastors, theirs is to give us the tools and resources we need. There’s so much I could write, but I’ll simply give my personal perspective on how they have blessed me this year.

Last June, Dennis Sprenger, our building and grounds director, came to our house for a walk-through, something he does regularly with all 17 faculty homes on campus to see what improvements can be made. Whenever we need a repair, he makes sure it happens. We often see him in the neighborhood, making his rounds and sharing Christian encouragement.

In July, I needed help procuring books for research. Dorcas Tackmier and Brenda Tiefel, our library assistants, helped me get interlibrary loans (and reminded me when it was time to return them).

Last September, I assigned first- and second-year students to local congregations for Early Field Training. Our faculty secretary, Nola Zemlicka, helped me communicate with sixty-plus students and thirty-plus pastors. This spring, she set up payment logistics for students serving as summer assistants around the country. And any time I need copies for class—even at the last-minute —she’s on it.

November brought a cheerful visit from our maintenance supervisor, Ted Saxe, to replace our furnace filters and smoke alarm batteries. He was back several times during the year for other repairs. When he moved with his new bride to Tennessee this spring, after 17 years of service, we welcomed his replacement, Link Gross. He is a regular sight around campus, as is Kay Kieper, our energetic janitorial supervisor, who is always ready with a smile and a question about our kids and pets.

In December, I finalized the budget for a student trip over Winterim to Colombia. Brian Treichel, our business manager, helped with that. He’s the supervisor of our staff and takes care of our salary and benefits so that we have nothing to worry about. When I got back from that trip in January, I submitted a report to Carol Puglisi, our accounting director. I appreciate her thoroughness—and her patient reminders to turn in receipts each month.

The beginning of second semester meant new courses to teach. Jeff Mitchell, our technology services director, created new course pages on our seminary network for me and my students. He’s our go-to guy for tech questions and problems.

Throughout February and March, Leah Leyrer, the administrative assistant to the president, worked with us to gather information on students and advisees to share with those assigning vicars and graduates. Her professionalism and institutional memory are invaluable.

On Maundy Thursday, a tree next to our garage started to lean in a windstorm. Joel Zak, our campus grounds supervisor, was there in no time to anchor it with straps and came back later with his student crew to take it down. He uses his impressive knowledge of vegetation to keep our campus beautiful. He also gave me permission to tap a few maple trees…

…which leads me to Jeannie Goljenboom, our food service director. In April, she graciously lent me pans for cooking sap into syrup. I’ve never seen her without a smile. The students rave about the delicious food she provides with the help of Nicolette Goodrich and Thomas Millot, who replaced Jim Cook, who passed away suddenly during the year.

That brings me up to the time of this writing. Our communications coordinator, Barbara Rickaby, will help get this article and the others ready for the magazine. As the administrative assistant for Grow in Grace, our continuing education department, she also helps me keep tabs on my advisees in our masters program. Working with her at Grow in Grace—especially with the ministry anniversary retreats— is Kim Workentine, our marketing and event coordinator.

Another member of the Preach the Word team is Lori Guse. We often see her walking around campus with her camera, capturing the beauty of this place to share in this magazine and online as she serves as a coordinator in the mission advancement office.

The final staff member I’ll mention may very well be the one who delivered this magazine to you. Kevin Keller is our advancement director, working with those Christians who, with their generous gifts, equip us with the resources we need to keep forming pastors.

This was just a snapshot—one year, one man’s perspective. Every member of the seminary family could write an article like this. We professors and students couldn’t do our work without the work of our gifted and faithful staff. Of course, they’d be embarrassed to hear me singing their praises like this. They’re humble servants who would want you to know that they only do what they do because they want to declare God’s praise.

Professor Sam Degner teaches evangelism and New Testament courses.