Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the fall 2016 issue of Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin. View a PDF version of the magazine here. Shelby Weishaar didn’t realize she’d never been baptized as an infant.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2015, when the Illinois native decided to attend Concordia University Wisconsin, that the subject came up. Her father, knowing his daughter would soon be attending a faith-based institution, asked if she planned to be baptized.
“The question took me off guard,” said Weishaar, who’s now in her second year at CUW. “It never really came up that I wasn’t baptized. I had my own beliefs growing up, but I had never really been to church.”
As a result of the witness of a CUW theology professor and the support of a friend, Weishaar decided to be baptized. Her name was marked in the Book of Life on June 5 at her new home congregation, Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Belvidere, Illinois.
Weishaar says her suite mate last year and close friend Sarah Geboy played a big role in her faith journey. Both in the Occupational Therapy program at CUW, Weishaar and Geboy happened to not only share a dorm space last year but have identical class schedules, including Christian Faith with Rev. Dr. Thomas Feiertag.
The pair’s shared schedules and living space gave way to many late-night talks and study sessions on the bluff. During these times, they’d often find themselves revisiting lessons from Dr. Feiertag’s class.
Weishaar recalls that one April night last when year she and Geboy were lying around in their shared living room area, and the subject of baptism came up, as it often had before.
“Sarah just kept yelling at me to just email (Dr. Feiertag), but it was like 2 o’clock in the morning,” Weishaar said with a laugh. “I finally told her I’d email him the next morning, which I did at like 9 a.m. He was very eager to help me.”
Dr. Feiertag connected Weishaar with Rev. Allan Buss, senior pastor at Immanuel, Belvidere. The timing was even such that Rev. Buss was planning a visit to CUW about a weekand-a-half later and was able to meet with Weishaar in person.
She also spoke with Campus Pastor Rev. Steve Smith, and, ultimately, Weishaar felt led to schedule a baptism at Immanuel for early in the summer. Dr. Feiertag even surprised her by showing up at Immanuel for the occasion.
“For me, it’s about having that assurance that I am in God’s family,” Weishaar said. “It’s part of my identity now that I’m a child of God, and I have confirmation that even though I sin, I will be forgiven. I’m secure in that.”
— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-243-2149.
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