Alumnus Katie Erickson – Pursuing Her Passions

Katie’s journey into seminary education and Christian ministry has involved some rather dramatic turns and a whole lot of trust in God.

A 2003 electrical engineering graduate from Ohio Northern University, Katie went on to pursue her Masters of Engineering at the University of Toledo. Following in the footsteps of close family members, her long-term goal was to teach engineering as a college professor. Her graduate education was largely funded via a teaching assistantship, but after only one year, that funding was cut. At the very same time, Katie’s husband lost his job, and they were left with some pretty tough decisions. Could Katie move forward in her graduate degree? How would they make ends meet overall? In response to their financial situation, Katie moved from part-time to full-time work at a Detroit, Michigan power company. It wasn’t her dream job, but it gave them time to regroup, pray, and consider their future.

God used these unexpected “setbacks” to speak to Katie about who she is and His dreams for her life. He told her, “You are still going to teach, but not in engineering.” While Katie was confident in God’s message to her, it left her somewhat puzzled. You see, Katie grew up hearing that women were not to teach in a church setting, and they most certainly were not to attend seminary. With that teaching imbedded in her, Katie chose to temporarily deny God’s calling. God provided full-time work for her husband and they settled into a routine.

Katie’s frustration with the status quo in her life grew and grew. Finally, she was compelled to speak to her pastor, shyly sharing what she believed God was prompting her to do. Her pastor was not at all surprised, having also observed Katie’s passion for theology and overall ministry. On August 7, 2005, Katie took a bold step and preached her first sermon to her church family.

In 2006, Katie began looking for seminaries that included women in their Master of Divinity programs. After her first visit to Winebrenner, her heart affirmed, “This is it!” As much as Katie relished her time at Winebrenner, it too was “plagued” with some outside disappointments. She struggled with some family members not believing that women should pursue seminary education. In addition, her husband’s employer gave him an ultimatum to either move to Columbus, Ohio, or lose his job (after they had just relocated to Findlay from Toledo and had not yet sold their previous house). In support of Katie’s work and studies, they opted to trust God and stay in Findlay. Those were tough moments in her journey, but she forged on (and her husband found even better jobs).

In Katie’s three years at Winebrenner, she most appreciated the community she found there. True to her first impressions of Winebrenner, she discovered a peer group who both accepted and challenged her as they journeyed together. Early in her seminary experience, she “assumed” she would go on to become a pastor. Over time, however, she discovered that her real passion and gifting centered on the Biblical languages. She fondly recalls meeting weekly for a number of years with a group of fellow students at Bob Evans to read the Bible in Greek and Hebrew. Her love for the Biblical languages, combined with her natural “bent” for teaching, made her consider a path towards teaching as opposed to pastoring.

Five years to the day after preaching her very first sermon, Katie graduated from Winebrenner Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree! In the years since that special day, Katie has served countless churches as pulpit supply. She teaches and tutors others in Hebrew and Greek, she oversees and writes weekly for the Worldview Warriors blog, and she recently published the book What the Bible Says About…. As Winebrenner’s volunteer Alumni Coordinator, the Seminary benefits from Katie’s sharp mind, astute observations and high attention to detail. On top of all these “side” endeavors, Katie continues to serve God as a full-time employee of Ridge & Associates, Inc., designing power and controls systems for fuel terminals. She is grateful for the many doors currently open to her in ministry and remains available for all that God has for her going forward.