By Dale Stanley
My road to the North American Lutheran Seminary (NALS) began in the Southeastern United States, in the United Methodist Church. I loved going to worship services, even as a young boy. I knew there was something special going on, however, I couldn’t tell you what that special thing was. All I knew was that I liked sitting in the pew watching the pastor in a white robe, with a fancy scarf draped around his shoulders. I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I shared St. Augustine’s restlessness and desire for more of what I could not yet identify.
I attended Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Va., where I had several life-altering experiences. I was baptized, I began to read the Bible seriously, and I met a lovely Jewish girl who shared my passion for theater. This lovely young lady, Rosalind, taught me to see the beauty in the Old Testament. In exchange, I answered many of her questions about this Jesus fellow of whom she had heard of years ago. As the Lord would have it, her parents were on their own journey toward Christ. Not long after Rosalind’s parents were baptized, she was too.
Rosalind and I were married in the winter of 2010. Over the next seven years, we had four beautiful and loud children. This time was both delightful and challenging as we struggled to keep our kids fed, bathed and in peace with each other. For two of those years, we lived and worked at the Rescue Mission of Roanoke. We were blessed and challenged to walk alongside people of many backgrounds through their struggles with homelessness, addiction and recovery. Some of our hardest and most precious lessons were learned during this time. As time went on, I began feeling a push toward a profession in which I could help people. Even though the pastorate had been suggested to me occasionally, I knew I did not want to become a pastor. I decided that counseling was the direction I would take.
Though I was convinced the pastorate was not for me, I kept feeling a call to be more involved in the church. This led to participation in small groups, part-time jobs at the church and eventually, an appointment as children’s minister at our church. After three years in that position, I decided to try my hand at sales. I enjoyed a modest level of success, but after a year, Rosalind and I decided I should begin a seminary program online. We agreed that if both of us worked part-time we could stay near family, and I could complete my theological education. However, no opportunities to execute our well-laid plan materialized. I had heard wonderful things about the NALS community from a recent graduate who was serving as an intern with our church. So, Rosalind applied for a job in Pittsburgh and was hired. Two months later, the six Stanleys moved up to Ambridge, grateful to the Lord for His guiding hand.
Dale Stanley has recently begun his first semester at the NALS. He moved to Ambridge, Pa. with his wife and four children from Roanoke, Va., where he began the candidacy process. Dale is eager to dive into theology and Scripture studies in preparation for parish ministry.