Back Row L to R: Dr. David Veum, Dr. Eugene Boe, Dr. Nate Oldenkamp, Dr. Daniel Berge, Nicholas Laven, and Dr. Brad Pribbenow. Front Row L to R: Ben Breslin, Mars Harper III, Tim Collins, Seth Johnston, Ty Rostvedt, Tom Copple, and Dr. Gaylan Mathiesen.

BEN BRESLIN 

After serving for three years as a Cavalry Scout in the United States Army, Ben earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2002. He spent over fifteen years as a technical business analyst in the healthcare industry. Ben’s life took a turn as his rediscovered faith in Christ led him to pursue pastoral ministry, earning the Master of Divinity degree from Lutheran Brethren Seminary in 2019.

Ben says of LBS, “I enrolled at LBS with little more than a vague hope of what the MDiv program might prepare me for in pastoral ministry. Now on the other side of graduation, I find the program thoroughly comprehensive. The MDiv program exposed areas of ministry that I’d never imagined, and provided new perspective to the exploration of God’s Word for the sake of his kingdom. I’ll still be learning about pastoral ministry for years to come, but I am now far more equipped to step into this ministry because of my years of lecture and study at LBS.

Ben has accepted a call to serve as pastor of Faith Fellowship Lutheran Brethren Church in Kelso, WA. He is eager not only to apply the wisdom and discipleship gained from his studies at LBS, but also to serve the congregation and its surrounding community in the forgiving, redeeming, restoring, life-giving gift of the gospel.


MARS HARPER III

Before coming to seminary Mars Harper served as a volunteer youth worker at Community of Christ Lutheran Brethren Church in Arvada, CO, while working for the city of Denver. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Faith International University.

Mars says of LBS, “What I appreciated most was the feeling that I was involved in the classes, despite being a distance student. The professors challenged and stretched me in ways that developed me as a student and as a pastor. The knowledge and tools that I received have helped me greatly in my ministry.

Mars is married to Mitzi, and they have three children. After graduation Mars plans to continue serving as the Intern Pastor at Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church in Sidney, MT.


NICHOLAS LAVEN

Prior to LBS, Nicholas worked in management at a distribution company, while serving as youth leader at his home church, Elim Lutheran, in Osakis, MN. He graduated from Osakis High School and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management from the University of Minnesota-Morris. He went on to earn his Master of Divinity from LBS.

Nicholas says that coming to LBS was one of the most important and needed times in his life. “I grew so much during my time at LBS. Spiritually I have grown and matured, and my theological understanding has grown in ways I couldn’t have envisioned.

One thing that stands out to Nicholas about LBS is the family that he has entered. “They welcome you in with love and grace and all the professors care about you. I didn’t receive that at University. They want you to grow not only in knowledge and understanding, but in your relationship with Christ as well.

Nicholas is married to Brittany and they have four children, Tobias, Lucy, Hadley, and Molly. Nicholas is currently serving as pastor at Faith LBC in Estevan, Saskatchewan and Trinity LBC in Torquay, SK.


SETH JOHNSTON

Seth graduated from Polaris Expeditionary Learning School in Fort Collins, CO. He then moved to Chicago to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Applied Linguistics from the Moody Bible Institute.

In his last semester at Moody, Seth met his wife, Patience (Szobody). She was instrumental in his pursuing further study at Lutheran Brethren Seminary. The initial call to seminary began with an intention to pursue a Certificate of Theological Studies in preparation for missionary service in Chad. The certificate program slowly morphed into pursing the complete MDiv as God changed Seth and Patience’s call to ministry.

Seth says, “I did not grow up Lutheran or with any connection to the CLB. It was through my relationships and studies at LBS that I came to find my ‘theological home.’ Moreover, it has been in this humble space where I have wrestled most with God and have come to experience and appreciate a fuller understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In May, Seth began a Master’s program in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavioral Analysis. He hopes this degree will enable his family to better serve bi-vocationally in the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and beyond.


TIM COLLINS

Tim graduated from Wadena/Deer Creek High School, Wadena, MN, studied sales at Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, MN, studied Music and Liberal Arts at North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton, ND, and earned a B.S. in Psychology from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.

Tim says of LBS, “I was able to take time (5½ years) to complete my MDiv here at LBS, thanks to the gracious support of the professors and staff. In that time, however, I was able to build a wonderful group of colleagues and mentors. From the number of students I came to know and love, I am truly blessed with a support team in the pastorate for all of ministry to come, along with the many professors that I have drawn close to and know I can call upon for advice and wisdom at any time. That is a gift I would never exchange for time gained back.

Tim will continue to serve as pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in rural Underwood, MN.


TOM COPPLE

Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree in History with minors in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Minnesota State University in Moorhead. He graduates from Lutheran Brethren Seminary with a Certificate in Theological Studies. While at seminary he developed a passion for reading Scripture in the original languages, in particular Hebrew, and is working on translating Psalms and Ecclesiastes. His professors have given him a heart to build empathy and understanding with others in order to build inroads for the gospel of Christ. His long term plan is to seek ministry opportunities that utilize his gifts for writing and passion for prayer.

Tom says of LBS, “My seminary years were quite an experience. Between class, work, and volunteering, I was tempted more than once to quit, but then I would return to Christ and find the strength to continue on. As the author of Hebrews says, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith… consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’” (12:2a,3).


TY ROSTVEDT

Ty grew up attending Grace Lutheran Brethren Church in Bismarck, ND. After graduating from Bismarck State College with an Associate’s degree, he attended LBS—receiving a Certificate in Youth Ministry in 2007. Ty worked in youth ministry for six years, eventually completing his Bachelor’s degree online from Faith International University. He then spent three years working as a roofer and pursuing pastoral ministry in a Presbyterian church. God closed that door and eventually provided the opportunity to head back to LBS in 2016.

Ty says of LBS, “Not only do we receive a rigorous academic education, our faith in Christ is nurtured throughout the process. We are reminded that the Word of God is not only for those to whom we minister, but also so much for our own souls.”

He and his wife Sheila have four children. They began serving Salem Lutheran Brethren Church in Grand Rapids, MN in 2018, where he currently serves as pastor.

Associate for Ministry Support
Meet the Smiths