Vocational Panel

Explore Ministry Pathways Beyond Traditional Pastoral Ministry

Vocational Panel

  • Did you know that not everyone who goes seminary plans to be a pastor? Have you felt a call to seminary but wondered what vocational path there might be for you in ministry? Join us for a Q&A discussion with people who are serving in diverse forms of ministry and explore where God might be calling you.

  • Panelists include:

    • Deacon Nick Bates, J.D. was consecrated/ordained as a deacon in 2014 after completing his joint degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Capital Law School. He entered ministry to build and direct ELCA and ecumenical advocacy efforts in Ohio. Since 2016, Deacon Nick has served as director of the Hunger Network in Ohio which is an ecumenical network that seeks to address the root causes of poverty through public policy advocacy. Nick brings a wealth of experience in coalition building, organizing, and advocacy from past justice efforts  including housing policy, budget and tax issues, voting rights, multi-system youth and he has worked on two ballot campaigns - one to limit payday lenders and the other to increase Ohio's minimum wage. He lives in the historic hilltop neighborhood of Columbus with his wife and two children - 13 and 8.

    • Kinnon Falk, who has over ten years of nonprofit and professional kitchen experience. He currently works as the Operations Manager at Kindred Montrose, an ELCA Mission Restart congregation near downtown Houston. He serves on the board of Grace Place, an evening drop-in program for unstably-house youth of all sexualities and genders between the ages of 13 and 24 years old. In a partnership between Kindred and Grace Place, he is helping launch Kindred Kitchen, a culinary training program with wrap-around support services designed to inspire and prepare Houston’s youth to pursue meaningful employment in the food service industry. Prior to his time at Kindred Kitchen, Kinnon worked in fundraising positions for foster care and homeless service agencies. He also has experience in catering and restaurant kitchens. Kinnon earned an MA from the Graduate Theological Union, and an MDiv from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, both in Berkeley, CA. As Director, Kinnon ensures that Kindred Kitchen produces quality food and service while adhering to its mission of serving Houston’s opportunity youth.

    • Deacon Ross Murray, who is ordained with a specific calling to advocate for LGBTQ people and to bridge the LGBTQ and faith communities. Ross is a Vice President at the GLAAD Media Institute. Ross uses the best practices perfected by GLAAD to train a new generation of advocates in order to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ people, as well as other marginalized communities. Ross is also a founder and director of The Naming Project, a faith-based camp for LGBTQ youth and their allies. His book, Made, Known, Loved: Developing LGBTQ-Inclusive Youth Ministry is available from Fortress Press. His next book, The Everyday Advocate: Living Out Your Calling to Social Justice will be available in May of 2023. Ross has also contributed to two books focused on LGBTQ Christian youth: Queerfully and Wonderfully Made and Welcoming and Affirming. He has written and appeared on numerous media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, USA Today, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Religion News Service. Ross is a producer for the "Yass, Jesus!" podcast, a faith and sexuality affirming podcast that believes you don't have to pick between gay and God. Hosts, Daniel Franzese (Actor, Mean Girls, Looking) and Azariah Southworth (former host, The Remix on TBN) meet each week in this hilarious take on a Sunday service to explore big questions and find out what it means to be a Christ-loving member of the LGBTQ community during these divided times.

    • Deacon Erin Power, who currently serves as the Director for Evangelical Mission in the Eastern North Dakota Synod. This work is focused on new mission and congregational vitality, and includes lots of miles on prairie highways, accompanying congregations in exploring how God is calling them into the future. A background in outdoor ministry and hospitality, Erin graduated with a Master of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO where she lived and served for 11 years. A gatherer at her core, her passion and joy in ministry is creating spaces for transformational gatherings, authentic community, and challenging conversations, while always tending to who is missing around the table. She loves the question “why” and imagining what could be and how God is calling us as church into the future. Her desire to change the world is fueled by a deep call to justice and vegetarian cooking. 



Logan Rimel
(510) 559-2732