My name is Keith Weatherford. My wife of thirty-one years, Kirsten, and I have five children, three who are adulting in their own homes and the two youngest that remain in our home. They range in age from thirty to ten. Yes, you read correctly. There are twenty years between the boys, with three girls sandwiched in between. We were blessed with our first grandchild three and a half years ago. We live in the community of Laurel, and we will remain in our home there during the internship year. As a family, we enjoy the many outdoor activities that Montana has to offer such as cycling, camping, boating, but mostly walleye fishing.
I attended Montana State University in Bozeman where I studied Mechanical Engineering. I then transferred to MSU Billings where I finished in Business Finance. I jumped at the opportunity to relocate to Southern California and began working for Lutheran Brotherhood (now Thrivent Financial). It took 5 years, but I began missing the open spaces of “home,” so I returned to Montana. At that time, I changed directions and fell back on my mechanical background and went to work for Conoco in their Billings Refinery as a process unit operator which, through the mergers, spin-offs, etc., has become a Phillips 66 facility. I remained in the plant for the next twenty-five years. In May of this year, I retired. I also worked as the Director of Youth Ministry at our church, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Billings from 2014 through 2020.
After a thirty year hiatus from academia, I attended Youth Cert. School at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg (now United Lutheran Seminary ULS) in 2014/2015 and found myself following and discerning a deeper sense of call. In the Fall of 2017, I returned to ULS to begin the journey of pursuing a Master of Divinity degree as a Distance Learner (DL) student. As of May 2021, I have completed all the academic requirements of the Master of Divinity (MDiv) program at United Lutheran Seminary. I have also completed the ELCA requirements outside of the seminary course work. These requirements include study in the areas of Anti-Racism, Ministerial Boundaries and Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) which was completed through St. John’s United. I have received a positive Endorsement from the Montana Synod candidacy committee allowing me to move into the final phase of my seminary education, Ministerial Immersion or Internship. That is where our faith journeys intersect. I will be serving a one-year internship that begins August 1st at Emmanuel Lutheran in Shepherd, MT. As a detached intern, I will have an offsite supervisor. That role is being filled by Pr. Darren Paulson from Atonement Lutheran in Billings. During the next year I will continue to meet with the ELCA Montana Synod candidacy committee, Pr. Paulson, Emmanuel’s internship committee, and my academic advisor working toward fulfilling the requirements for Approval and Ordination into the ELCA.
I am looking forward to the year ahead. I am deeply grateful for Emmanuel’s commitment and willingness to be involved in my seminary education and journey. I am joyfully anticipating the opportunity for both myself and my family to form new relationships, rekindle old relationships, and the chance for all of us to share our faith journeys with each other. May our experiences become woven together in the faith stories and rich history of Emmanuel Lutheran’s ministry as the little white church in Shepherd.
In Christ’s Love,