Called to Ministry

Amy Chalupnik felt the call to ministry at a young age and, although life and education took her on a different path for a while, she will soon be graduating from Luther Seminary with a Masters of Divinity.

Amy and Jason Chalupnik both graduated from Buffalo High School, where they met working on the school newspaper together.

Amy double majored in economics and in religion in college, while Jason studied music education.

Amy grew up solidly Lutheran and Jason grew up as a “Christmas and Easter” Roman Catholic. Before they were married, they decided to find a church that would be not his or hers, but theirs together. Amy and Jason had gone to high school with Carmen Blair and Anne Folkerds, daughters of Zion’s pastors at that time, which led them to check out Zion Lutheran Church

“…and we stayed! Zion was the welcoming and service-oriented faith community we wanted for ourselves and for our children. We are pleased to call Zion ‘our church-together.’”

Now married for almost 17 years, they have two boys: Tommy (11) and Danny (10). Both children attend Discovery Elementary School (Tommy will be entering Middle School in the fall), and enjoy baseball, building snow forts, and watching movies. Their family also currently includes Kitty, a foreign exchange student from Thailand, who will be with them until mid-July.

Amy and Jason have a passion for the educational opportunities and schools in the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose school district, and are advocates for literacy, especially for the under-served. They are parent volunteers with Discovery Elementary School and Tommy and Danny’s other activities, and Amy has volunteered with Read-to-Feed-the-Mind, an organization that was started by Bev Koopman, a local teacher and member of Zion.

As a family, we enjoy camping, traveling, vegetable gardening, canning our own spaghetti sauce, and cheering for the Minnesota Twins! We love our Buffalo neighborhood and enjoy neighborhood get-togethers and movies-in-the-garages. Our family enjoys the small town feel of Buffalo, and supporting the local businesses like BJ’s Deli, Buffalo Books, and others.

Banking was Amy’s first career and she was in the financial industry for over fifteen years.

For many years, Amy was an active volunteer at Zion, singing soprano in the Zion senior choir, serving on various committees, as treasurer for the Zion Foundation, teaching Sunday school, and volunteering with senior high youth.

Jason is also very active at Zion. He sings with the Zion Senior Choir, plays bells, and co-directs the children’s bell choirs at Zion. He has served on several committees, including the Call Committee that recommended Pastor Luke. He has enjoyed trips to the Boundary Waters with a Zion men’s group, where he has filled ‘head chef’ duties. Jason enjoys cooking and collecting cookbooks, and is a member of the Buffalo Rotary Club. Having decided that music is more of a hobby, Jason works as a sales manager at Kjellberg Carpet One.

Several years ago, while volunteering with the Zion’s Youth Ministries, Amy felt God calling again. She spoke to several people, including another Zion seminarian and then-pastor Steve Svoboda, about the ministry, and they suggested she consider ordained public ministry … perhaps working with young people.

Luther Seminary in St. Paul had just started a Distributed Learning program which offered more online classes and was expanding the offerings of evening classes, so it seemed God was at work in making it possible for me to continue to work and start taking classes.

With the Synod’s acknowledgement, and Zion’s blessing, Amy began as a part-time student at Luther Seminary in 2008. When she was laid off from her former employer she became a full-time student.

Classes and other seminary requirements have limited Amy’s involvement in many of the ministries she used to enjoy at Zion. She particularly misses being part of the choir. Over the last few years, she has managed to find new ways to be involved with her home congregation. She has had the opportunity to visit with a number of Zion seniors in their homes or at care centers, has been part of the prayer chain, served as a worship assistant, Communion server, and ashes imposer on Ash Wednesday, and as a prayer partner at the Women’s Retreat. She continues to be an active part of Zion’s public and private online communities on Facebook and TableProject.

My favorite classes were the Systematic Theology courses and the Pastoral Care courses—that combination of head-stuff and heart-stuff is rather rare I’m told, but I completely enjoyed it! That’s perhaps what surprised me most. Another surprise was how much I love being at the bedside or walking with those that are confused, grieving or suffering physical or mental distress; it is a privilege to share the love of Christ in those moments.

Since the first presentation to the Council of my intent to follow God’s call and attend seminary to train for pastoral leadership, I have been blessed by the support of the Zion congregation. In prayers and interest and random acts of kindness (like homegrown veggies or lunch out or tickets to some event), this community has supported our family during these five long years. The Zion Foundation has been extremely generous in its commitment to fund my seminary tuition expenses.

Like most institutions for higher learning, Seminary is not inexpensive, and the loss of my employment income has caused economic struggles for our family. Without the scholarship monies, I may not have been able to complete the coursework, certainly not in this timeframe. There are [other] congregations that provide that level of funding, but they are few and far between. Along with my family, I am humbled and very thankful.

I want to express my gratitude to the generous donors who have funded the Foundation over the years—and continue to grow the Foundation through regular giving and bequests, and to trustees of the Zion Foundation who distribute the earnings in support of God’s mission through the Buffalo community and the wider-church.

Having studied at Luther Seminary for almost 5 years, Amy is awaiting faculty approval in mid-May, and expects to “walk” with her graduating class. In June, she will interview with the Minneapolis Area Synod for candidacy approval, and will then complete her year-long internship with Como Park Lutheran Church in mid-August, and graduate with a Masters of Divinity.

With the help of God and the blessing of the Synod, I should be available for call by a congregation after internship. I am anticipating being part of the October assignment process—which means that I will be “assigned” to a bishop of a specific Synod. Given the housing downturn, our family will remain in Buffalo for the foreseeable future! Therefore I will be praying for a call within a one-hour radius, likely in the Southwest Synod or the Minneapolis Area Synod. [Zion is on the western edge of the Minneapolis Area Synod]

Amy’s graduation ceremony will be held at Central Lutheran in Minneapolis on Sunday, May 19. All are welcome and no tickets are required. Doors open at 2pm and the ceremony will begin at 3pm.