For 15 years now (give or take a couple of years between my sister and brother) you have housed a member of my family and taught them as they prepared for the public ministry. This morning, the last of my family accepted his diploma.
While the distance between Michigan and Minnesota is quite far, you, Martin Luther College, were a huge part of our lives.
My brother Matt started out in 2000 after graduating from Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Michigan. I started in the fall of 2003, and my sister Erica joined me two years later. Finally, in 2011 my little brother Jared started on the Hill. Two pastor-track, and two teacher-track. Of the four of us, I was probably the one the most doubtful about starting at your school. It wasn't until I discovered the Parish Music program in my senior year of high school that I made my final decision to attend.
We were quite a dramatic group of kids. But not in the bad way. (I hope.) We all were members of Forum and participated in no less than 20 productions ranging from Musicals to Children's Theater to Plays to Outdoor Theater and Readers Theatre! Gazing at the posters in the Green Room would bring back more memories than looking at a trophy case, to be honest.
We all had fantastic teachers while attending your school. From Professor Fredrich to Professor Cherney to Professor Koelpin to Doctor Wendler to Professor Schmidt to Doctor Wagner to Doctor Moldenhauer and Doctor Whaley, we received a very good education on campus that help us in our ministries. Most importantly, these teachers helped us delve deeply into God's Word and gave us the ability to spread that message in varied and wonderful ways.
On campus we witnessed some great transitions. The cafeteria stayed open for 12 hours, then let the community pay to eat there, then opened up for late-night
chicken finger binges hours and trivia contests! The auditorium became the auditorium again, as my sister got to watch the new Chapel of the Christ being built, and my brother got to perform in it many times. The lobby between Concord and Augustana was remodeled. Herman the German came down for a while to be renovated, and it just didn't feel the same without him towering over campus. That old NEW ULM water tower was finally taken down, too. New parking lots and tennis courts were put in place when my older brother was around.
The opportunities to worship were wonderful. The morning chapel services gave us a chance to sample new liturgies from the Christian Worship: New Service Settings and the Christian Worship: Supplement. The Compline services allowed us to see a beautiful, meditative form of worship for the close of the day. My brothers both got to do chapel services there, solidifying their decisions to become pastors. My sister and I played organ for chapel services, improving our skills and readying us for our future calls.
We all got opportunities to put our training to work while we were there. My older brother was the director of the largest dramatic production of the year, the fall musical. My sister, while on the Student Senate, was in charge of the whole Winter Carnival. My little brother helped organize blood drives, did some radio commentary for sporting events, and did about a billion other things I can't think of at the moment. I got the chance to direct the College Choir - something I never imagined doing.
And that brings me to the part of this school that I think made the biggest impact on our lives at the time, and still continues to make an impact now: the music. Between the four of us we participated in three of the four choirs on campus, as well as the Bell Choir and the Wind Symphony. We went on tons of tours, read hundreds of different songs, and learned countless techniques that helped improve our sound. We were able to spread the gospel message through our songs to thousands of people all over North America. This musical imprint still resonates with us today. My older brother sings solos at his church. My sister plays organ for services. I direct choirs. And my little brother plays several instruments.
So, MLC, I would like to thank you for helping shape the lives of the people in my family. I'm sure my mother and father thank you as well. On behalf of my siblings, we are so thankful for these last 15 years at Martin Luther College. May God's blessings continue to shower down on MLC for the years to come as you train more men and women for the public ministry.
Claire Natsis - Class of 2008
Matt Natsis - Class of 2004
Erica (Natsis) Griepentrog - Class of 2009
Jared Natsis - Class of 2015
"Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending;
by paths as yet untrod, through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with courage, not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
- Lutheran Book of Worship