Title: Partners in Seminary Studies
Anderson University School of Theology students Tim and Josie Vickey find their 13-year marriage has become more enriched through their seminary studies. The Studies also are enhancing the lives of newlyweds Julie and Norberto Kurrle, who have been married just a little over one month. The Vickeys and Kurrles have become good friends in the process, and both couples are considering pursuing ministry work in South America, which is Norberto's native land. While in the beautifully serene Miller Chapel at AU's School of Theology, the foursome talked of how God has deeply touched their lives, and how they find their studies have become more of a spiritual experience since sharing it with the ones they love.
"Now that we are both in seminary full-time, we find that when we have an idea or concept the person that I can bounce that idea off is right next to me," Tim said, of his wife and study partner. "I find that to be a holy experience. It's something that is enriching for me and for our marriage as well."
Tim admitted theological studies can be challenging, but he is cherishing the experience with Josie next to him.
"I think as Christians we go through situations where there are times of trials and times of victories. We call them valleys or mountains, and as we go through those together, it strengthens our marriage," Tim said. "The seminary experience is one that can do that."
Josie agreed. She finds she's communicating on a deeper level with her husband now more than ever before.
"We discuss theology and discuss the Bible. It's not that we didn't before, (because) we have for the 13 years of our marriage. But it's a higher, deeper level of thinking," she said, adding she and her husband are always thinking and asking, "Where does God want us, where does he want us tomorrow?"
The Kurrles find theology studies have deepened their own faith, and enriched their lives. Norberto added seminary classes have given him a better understanding of different cultures.
"And understanding why we are the way we are, and who we are. It's helping me relate better to others, and helping me understand."
He loves being in the seminary with Julie, the love of his life.
"In a way, it's almost easier because we share the load now at home doing the work, and we're sharing classes now. It cuts the costs down on books," said Norberto with a grin.
In seriousness, Norberto said he cherishes sharing study time with Julie, and by reading together, he finds he gains a deeper understanding of the studies.
"I'm enjoying it more," he said.
Julie agreed. "This is a special time in our lives."
Norberto came to AU in 1993, and Julie came in 1994. They met around two years later. Julie was leaning toward the corporate world, but soon found God leading her toward more Bible studies.
"I had a passion for learning more about our creator God," she said, adding her desire for the ministry field just evolved from the studies.
The Vickeys say it was 6 ½ years ago they felt the calling to serve God on a higher level. Tim was working for a Michigan corporation at the time, and his wife was teaching.
"We came to a point to where we had to no longer just be Christians, but we had to be radically obedient, fully devoted Christians. With that placed in front of us, we had to make a decision and our decision was to be fully devoted and radically obedient, and we didn't really know what that would mean, but what it ended up meaning is that I resigned my position in the corporation, and came to seminary," Tim said, adding Josie stayed in Michigan and continued teaching since she was under her teaching contract.
The Vickey's felt to be a "witness to the community," it was Josie's responsibility to complete her teaching contract, before coming to AU for theology studies. Now that she's here, Josie continues to teach in Anderson, and is employed with Anderson Community Schools. Her husband is serving as a ministry assistant at Park Place Church of God, in the Christian education area, and is also serving as a chaplain assistant.
The Vickeys and Kurrles believe it's important for seminary couples to share their experiences and insight with each other, and both couples encourage other married couples to consider seminary studies.
The strongly believe these studies not only enrich one's faith, but also strengthens the marriage vows.
"And it's so important to have a support group of other people who are going through some of the same things," said Tim, who cherishes get-togethers with the Kurrles and other seminary students. "It's over those times that wisdom may come through our collaborative efforts."
And their faith is strengthened even more.
---Theresa Campbell is a reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.