Ivar Hillesland ’10 M.Div.
B.A. Pacific Lutheran University 2002
I came to YDS from Santa Monica accompanied by wife and dog, and when I began classes we had no place to live. The newly renovated apartment building that we were supposed to move into failed inspection for two months. While I have strangely fond memories of writing about the “mystery of God” according to theologians Rahner and Barth while watching late-night television in a sketchy motel room, I have fonder memories of the munificent support offered by Dean of Students Dale Peterson and fellow classmate Debra McLeod Sears, who graciously offered us a room for that time. We were blessed to have such generous assistance from the community and found this generosity to be typical of YDS.
After growing up Lutheran, attending Pacific Lutheran University, and working full time at a Lutheran church for five years, I felt that I had been thoroughly baked into a profoundly Lutheran mushroom-soup-and-cornflake casserole. I applied to YDS with a desire for an education that would put me into direct dialogue with people from other Christian faiths. I did not want to read it in a textbook—I wanted to live it in class, in community, and in worship. This is exactly what I found at YDS. As a Lutheran seeking ordination I knew I would have to pay the price of an extra year of school at a Lutheran seminary in order to be properly “Lutheranized,” but the price was worth it.
My academic experience at YDS was phenomenal. I learned not only a great deal of information and facts, but I also learned how to learn more expansively, and gained the firm ability to critically examine my own beliefs and convictions. In community I found deep and lasting friendship and was continually inspired by classmates. Worship in Marquand, which bravely and prophetically tries to honor and give voice to all traditions while avoiding making each tradition into a sort of museum piece for others to examine, was the reason I finally chose Yale. In all of these facets of my education, the Bible came alive, and I gained an eager ear for God’s creative and liberating word.
This coming fall I will be entering Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA for a year of study in order to fulfill my Lutheran year requirement. We will try to squeeze my son Olyver (who at two months still can’t seem to change his own diapers), my dog Molly (who at seven years still can’t walk herself), and my gorgeous wife Targhee (who can’t seem to get rid of her deadbeat husband) into some tiny space, while that space manages to squeeze all the money out of our pockets. Once that year is over, I will spend a year as an intern at a church and, pending approval, will seek out a parish somewhere on the west coast as a pastor.