Ian Boden, senior, is in his second year at Capital and is about to enter the four-year process of becoming a Lutheran pastor.
Although Boden is eagerly preparing for candidacy, becoming a pastor was not always his plan.
“I didn’t want to be a pastor at first,” Boden said. “I wanted to work for the Boy Scouts of America as a program specialist or become a history professor.” Boden is an Eagle Scout and still currently works for the Boy Scouts.
“When I entered into community college, my major was history before religion, and history is something that fascinates me, especially church history,” he said.
His interest in history led him to discover the Order of Lutheran Franciscans, which he is currently a novice member of. Boden said his studies led him to question his purpose in life when suddenly 12 people in one week asked him if he was studying to become a pastor or in seminary.
“That lead to two years of sleepless nights, waking up every day wanting to do something different,” he said. “The messy bit of discernment. I was at the point where I [couldn’t] see myself being anything but a pastor, which is a good thing, but a little bit terrifying.”
Boden is aware that when he wears his traditional brown robes around campus he draws different reactions from students, but he is not always dressed in that attire. Most days he is modestly clad in “normal” clothes.
“My daily life is I go to class, I work, I do pray three times a day as my rule of order instructs,” Boden said. “I meet with other students who are discerning a call as well, there are actually five or more of us that regularly meet to talk. We actually just went on a road trip to visit two seminaries, what every student does on fall break!”
Boden says some people only recognize him as the person wearing “the funny brown robes,” or as the person dressed in a Boy Scout uniform, or from Chordsmen.
“Sometimes when we’re involved in these organizations, our identities become fractured and people have a hard time seeing people as a whole,” Boden said. “And balancing the whole can be difficult.”
Boden says that prayer is helpful in helping him stay balanced and grounded. Prayer plays a big role in his life and is something he practices faithfully.
“When I think past the four and a half years, there is excitement to be a pastor,” he said. “To be a pastor, as I hope to be, you enter into people’s lives in the most vulnerable and intimate moments. To have that privilege is something I am excited about.”
“There’s brokenness in the world and I want to be able to proclaim the gospel to people who need to hear it. To be radically available, that’s why I want to become a pastor,” Boden said.
While his excitement overshadows his fear, he has his worries as well. Boden worries that being gay could interfere with his placement in a congregation.
“I can be ordained through the church, we have gay pastors,” Boden said. “But we live in a world where not all of our congregations are as accepting, and we hear about gay pastors being denied calls. So that is a reality. It is shrinking, maybe not as fast as we want it to, but it is a reality. So that is a fear.”
Despite these fears, Boden feels confident in the Lutheran church’s openness and willingness to accept people of all sexual orientations and backgrounds. In fact, Boden will soon be speaking at a conference held on campus on the topic of the intersection of personal identity, public acceptance, and religion, and looking at that through his experience in the LGBTQ community.
“If people have questions, I wish they’d ask,” Boden said. “Maybe the brown robe throws people off, or perhaps I look angry when I’m in a hurry. But if people have questions, they can ask. The church really does stand for being accepting of all people, taking people where they are, and that everyone is precious and is loved.”