Keeping it in the Family: Parents, Children Share Support for NABS

Keeping it in the Family: Parents, Children Share Support for NABS

December 21, 2005

When Bob and JoAnn Weber of Emery, SD, were raising their four kids, they had a list of values they tried to instill in them: go to church, Sunday school, and youth group; always walk the "straight and narrow"; and go to college.

It seems that an unspoken message was also passed along to Nancy, Bob, Jr., Rick, and Steve - the value of supporting North American Baptist Seminary. Now, even though the "Weber kids" are spread out around the country, they remain committed to the ministry of NABS. Nancy Peep and her husband, Steve, live in Spearfish, SD; Bob, Jr. and Jan Weber call Shawnee, KS, their home; Rick and Annie Weber live in Vancouver, WA; and Steve and Deb Weber reside in Kalamazoo, MI.

Their home church had a lot to do with fostering this interest. First Baptist Church in Emery has a long history with the seminary. When NABS relocated to Sioux Falls in 1949, Emery was one of the largest North American Baptist churches in the region. Roy Seibel was the pastor in Emery at the time, and he later joined the seminary faculty. The Emery church often recruited its pastors and youth pastors from the seminary. The long list of names includes Chuck Hiatt, Dennis Hoffman, Barry Seifert, brothers Jim and Dan Derman, and Arlo Grenz. "Seminary was a big part of the church," says JoAnn. "In addition to our pastors, seminary speakers came quite often."

The Webers have supported the seminary for generations. According to Rick, "My great-grandparents were NAB, my grandparents were NAB, and on and on..." Indeed, the list of Webers who have a connection to the North American Baptist Conference and to the seminary is lengthy. Bob, Sr. remembers the strong commitment of his parents, Ed and Emma Weber, to the seminary. And Nancy remembers that Emma had a prayer for her family, as well. "Grandma Emma always prayed that someone in our family would become a preacher."

Rick fulfilled that prayer when he enrolled as a Master of Divinity student in 1981. Shortly after that Bob, Sr. and JoAnn started volunteering at the seminary, assisting with mailings and the annual phonathon. "When my parents started helping with the phonathon, they called me," says Bob, Jr. "I was living in Iowa at the time working as a lineman for a telephone company. I've been giving to the seminary ever since."

For Steve, his gifts to the seminary are a response to the pastors and youth workers at his church. "It is a heartfelt decision. People that have come out of NABS have had an impact on my life." In fact, both Steve and his wife, Deb, have been directly affected by the seminary. Her parents, Mervin and Jackie Kramer, are both graduates.

Rick's support stems from gratitude for his education. "I appreciated the seminary's role in my life," he says. "Not just classroom stuff and academics, but the practical side of ministry that the seminary emphasizes." He serves as the Regional Minister for the Northwest region of the North American Baptist Conference.

Nancy appreciates pastors that come out of NABS. "I have always respected people associated with the seminary. Any time our pastors were grads, I felt a common thread with them because of where they were trained." She also helps encourage others to attend as well. "I always mention NABS to college people in our church who are considering ministry and tell them to check it out."

So how does a family forge a relationship with an institution that is passed from generation to generation? "We never over-emphasized NABS with our kids," say Bob, Sr. and JoAnn. "It was just always a part of our life."

Although Bob, Sr. and JoAnn didn't intentionally pass their support of North American Baptist Seminary on to their children, there is no doubt that the values they instilled in them are a major reason the Webers are keeping it in the family. And in return for their commitment to the ministry of NABS, yet another generation of Christian leaders will be equipped to serve.