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A blog featuring Winebrenner students & alumni

InStep

Alumnus Craig Flack – The “NIV” of Teaching

On Wednesday June 22nd I sat down to speak with the Teaching Pastor from Celina First Church of God, Craig Flack. We spoke for close to 2 hours, and in that time Pastor Craig spoke to me about his successes, his struggles, and his beliefs. At risk of giving the rest of the story away,...
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MCI Students and Alumni – Part III

This blog entry is the third in a series on our students and alumni at Marion Correctional Institution (MCI). Because this unique community of learners cannot represent themselves through this platform, other voices will share about their journeys, both to faith in Christ and into ministry. This third entry, written by Adjunct Professor Dr. Linda...
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MCI Students and Alumni – Part II

This blog entry is the second in a series on our students and alumni at Marion Correctional Institution (MCI). Because this unique community of learners cannot represent themselves through this platform, other voices will share about their journeys, both to faith in Christ and into ministry. This second entry, written by Winebrenner volunteer Mary Jo...
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MCI Students and Alumni – Part I

This blog entry is the first in a series on our students and alumni at Marion Correctional Institution (MCI). Because this unique community of learners cannot represent themselves through this platform, other voices will share about their journeys, both to faith in Christ and into ministry. This first entry, written by Academic Dean, Dr. Bruce...
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Alumnus Tim Eding – From Persecutor to Pastor

For the first 18 years of Tim Eding’s life, I don’t believe anyone would have guessed he was called to ministry. Not his family, not his friends, not even himself. By his own admission, he said “I grew up a heathen”. While Tim’s mother had been involved in the church, and had even had Tim...
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Alumnus Dr. Andrew Draper – A Voice for Justice

As we work through these challenging times, I recognize that everyone’s experience and perspective are different. Dr. Andrew Draper, Winebrenner graduate, has granted us permission to share this as a way to process what is occurring in our society. Martin Luther King, Jr. is credited with saying “True peace is not merely the absence of...
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Alumnus Paul Rutledge – Number One Job is to Love People

On April 20th I sat down for a phone call with Paul Rutledge, the Pastor of Risingsun First Church of God, in Risingsun, Ohio. During our hour and a half long call, Pastor Paul spoke candidly about his life, with occasional injections of humor. Pastor Paul’s story has been at times conventional, at other times...
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Alumna Leslie Fern – Called to Counsel with Hope and Compassion

When Leslie Fern completed her undergraduate and graduate work in Human Resources, she was done with studying and the all-encompassing gruel of student life. She settled into a full time HR position and forged ahead in her new life as a working adult. For over 20 years, Leslie’s life was full and meaningful. She cared...
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Alumna Katie Erickson – A New Teaching Experience

I love teaching. Growing up, when my cousin and I would “play school,” I always wanted to be the teacher. I started tutoring kids when I was in the 6th grade, mostly in math, and I really never stopped through high school, college, and beyond. Since earning my Master of Divinity from Winebrenner in 2010,...
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Ross Wiley – From Business to Ministry

When Ross Wiley moved to Northwest Ohio to oversee the expansion of his family’s restaurant business, he and his wife Elisha believed their time in the region to be temporary. They had planned to stay just long enough to establish a few new restaurants and then to head back to the West Coast or wherever...
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Caleb & Christina Acosta – Ministers to God’s Latino Fields

Since 2010, God has blessed the ministry of Pastors Caleb & Christina Acosta and their outreach to the Latino community, both here in the United States and abroad.    Caleb was born and raised in Venezuela and came to the United States in 1989. Christina is a native of Lancaster County, PA. God brought them together at a church gathering...
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Alumnus Dr. Murthy Kola – A Special Call to Minister Alongside the Incarcerated

Dr. Murthy Kola is a third-generation ordained minister who served as a minister of the Gospel in South India in his teens and twenties. Since coming to the United States in 1974, God has given him a special calling and gifting to work with many incarcerated youth and adults. Little did Dr. Kola know, as...
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Alumnus Chris McCormick – How God Used a “Silly Idea” to lead Chris to Seminary

July of 2013, Chris was taking in just a “regular” Sunday sermon from the book of James when the Holy Spirit clearly spoke to him. Arriving home from church, he shared his “impression” with his wife Cindy, adding on, “Isn’t that a silly idea?!” Expecting her to agree with him, Chris was shocked to hear...
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Alumnus Angie Swonger – Journey from Teacher to Pastor to Counselor 

When God called Angie Swonger into Winebrenner’s Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling (MACC) program, she was not at all the “traditional, straight-out-of university” graduate student. Having already been an educator for over 20 years, Angie was also serving in her local church as an ordained pastor (Church of God, Anderson).    It was 2015 when her senior pastor approached...
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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...
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Robin Gaines – Running from God’s Call

Robin Gaines: child of God, beautiful, intelligent, wise, industrious, kind, and disciplined. And for a long stretch in her life, running from God’s call! When Robin joined Friendship Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, she joined a loving community under the leadership of her longtime family friend, Bishop Duane Tisdale. She felt accepted, loved, and safe. While she was...
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Alumnus Juan Martinez – from Prisoner to Prison Minister

In his own words, Juan Martinez entered the Marion Correctional Institution (MCI) in Marion, Ohio as a “blasphemous agnostic.” He was angry at the world and at God. If God existed, He certainly did not like Juan. If so, He would have intervened in Juan’s life and kept him from the path that led to prison.   ...
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Rob Wolpert – Army Chaplain

“You should be an Army Chaplain!” While Rob Wolpert may not have heard God declare those words in an audible voice, he nonetheless received the command loud and clear. That 2013 conversation with God would radically change his life.  Rob was still an unbeliever when in 2011 he entered Bowling Green University as an officer...
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Joel Pollitz – Social Worker to Young Dads

When God began to prompt Joel Pollitz towards vocational ministry, Winebrenner Theological Seminary was his natural choice. The seminary is theologically open to his denomination and the campus is commuting distance from his hometown of Toledo. In addition, the seminary’s mix of online classes, week long intensives, and on-campus courses fit well into his already busy schedule.  ...
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