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David Choi was born and raised in north-
eastern China, specifically in the Jilin province which shares a border with North Korea. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Communication from JiMei University, which is located in the southeastern part of China. He returned to Chang Chun City in his home province to study for his master’s degree, which he finished in 2013. After working for two years at a telecom company, he went to South Korea and became involved with Seoul Lutheran Church. The pastor there, the Rev. Young Ha Kim, encouraged him to pursue his interest in becoming a Lutheran pastor. He took classes at Asia Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong before moving to America and enrolling at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in September 2016.
Jacob Kempfert was born in Water- town, WI to Lowell and Carol Kempfert. He attended Fox Valley Lutheran High School in Appleton, WI, where he was involved with band, choir, drama, and speech. He also started a support group for students struggling with depression and mental illness. He attended Bethany Lutheran College from 2003-2007, eventually graduating with a BA in English. He was active in the theatre and creative writing communities at Bethany, and served as an editor for the Inkwell literary magazine. At Bethany he met Anna Basel, and the two were married in 2011. He received an MA degree in literature and creative writing from the University of Maine in 2012. After graduate school, he and Anna taught English in South Korea for three years. Anna currently is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the English department at Minnesota State University – Mankato. Jacob’s older brother Ben is a WELS pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Oronoco, MN, and his younger sister Zabet is an honors student and former squirrel colony intern at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh.
John Spivey was born in Pensa- cola, FL in 1992 to John and Joan Spivey. During his adolescence his family moved to Casa Grande, AZ south of the Phoenix metro. John Spivey graduated High School at Casa Grande Union High School and attended Central Arizona College. He enlisted in the U.S Army Reserve in February 2011, and returned to college at the University of Arizona in 2012. John met his wife Hannah in the Spring of 2013 and began attending Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church Tucson, AZ. They were married in December 2013 and he became a confirmed member in February 2014. John for the past two years has been studying Greek, Latin and Hebrew at Martin Luther College New Ulm, MN. John and Hannah were blessed with the birth of their daughter Aubrielle in July 2015. John received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona. Hannah is currently working on her Master’s degree in harp performance at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. John enrolled at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in 2016.
Ethan Urtel is the son of Gene and Jill Urtel, born July 1994. Raised in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, he was homeschooled through high school. In his high school years he attended Youth Educated At Home Academy, and participated in PSEO classes there. He thoroughly enjoyed his four years at Bethany Lutheran College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and minor in Religion in 2016. Highlights for him were choir, choraliers, and any opportunity to sing, from chapel to choir tour. He also spent time serving at the cafeteria, and hopes to do more serving through training at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary to share the good news of Jesus Christ to others.
Karim Yaghleji was born to Fawzi and Amira on February 5, 1984 in Hassaka, Syira. He moved to Aleppo when he was 12 years old. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a Master’s degree in Linguistics from Aleppo University, Syria. He taught English as a second language and English for specific purposes at Aleppo University for over 4 years. He was the head of the English department at United Nations, Syria before he moved to United States at the end of 2012. His parents and his only sister, Antoinette, are still in Aleppo, Syria. Karim graduated from Martin Luther College with a seminary certificate and enrolled in Bethany Lutheran Seminary. He currently works for Multi-Language Publications as a translator who translates books and movies from English into Arabic for Arabic speakers. Karim was united in marriage with Anna Ganster. Karim is so excited to continue studying the word of God.
Patrick Ernst was born to David and Sharon Ernst and raised in Shakopee, Minnesota. He attended Shakopee High School, Martin Luther College, and Normandale Community College before beginning study at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. He studied English and graduated in December 2015. At Bethany College, he was active in organ playing, choir, and PAMA student mentors. In addition, he was editor at the college’s literary magazine, Inkwell, a member of the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, and on staff in the English and German departments. He enrolled at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary in 2015. Currently he works as the seminary’s librarian and serves as the seminary’s organist and choir director. He teaches religion as an adjunct faculty member at Bethany Lutheran College and preaches often in area congregations. Outside of study and work he spends time with music, foreign languages, and running.
Noah Thompson is the son of Rev. David and Jenna Thompson. He was born on December 4, 1990 in Mankato, MN. Noah attended High School in Detroit Lakes, MN and was involved in soccer, track, and basketball. He attended college at Bethany Lutheran College and continued his athletic career playing socccer for four more years holding the responsibility of captian his final year. Noah graduated from Bethany in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. During his time at Bethany, Noah met Courtney Nelson. They were married in November of 2013 and were blessed with the birth of their first child Elliott David Thompson on September 4th.
Christian J. Walz was born in Lisbon, North Dakota. During his childhood, his family moved to the Kansas City area. Christian was confirmed in a WELS church. After finishing high school, Christian furthered his education at North Dakota State University. In 1995 Christian graduated college with a degree in biology. Christian worked a number of jobs living in Minnesota then moving back to his hometown in Kansas. Christian became very active in his church, teaching Sunday school and serving on various boards. He became interested in becoming a Lutheran pastor. He attended Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota and completed their seminary certification program. Christian continued his education at Bethany Lutheran Seminary. He completed two years of seminary training. He returned to the work force. After some time he returned to seminary in 2015. He plans to graduate in 2017. In his free time Christian enjoys riding his bike, fishing, and nature. He wants to become a pastor so that he can share the love of Jesus with all souls, bought with the blood of Christ.
Aaron is the oldest son of Rev. Craig and Teresa Ferkenstad, born in 1980. He graduated from Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School in New Ulm, MN in 1998 and from Bethany Lutheran College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts, concentrating in Ancient and Medieval History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Music. Following graduation he moved to Virginia Beach, VA and was married there in 2010 to Djemelyn; their first son Adam was born in 2012.
Kurtis Freimuth was born in Aurora, Colorado in 1980 to Vicki and Dale Freimuth. He grew up in Utah, and was baptized on April 1, 1990 at Grace Lutheran Church in Sandy, Utah. He later moved to Indiana for high school. He attended Valparaiso University and graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education. Shortly after, he moved to Pennsylvania and married his wife, Andrea. Kurtis and Andrea adopted their daughter Fiona from Bangkok, Thailand in 2009. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, he served as a teacher and administrator at a Lutheran school for nine years. Desiring to serve God in the pastoral ministry, Kurtis enrolled in Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary beginning in 2013. During his senior year the Freimuths welcomed a new baby boy, Dale!