With strength and direction from the Holy Spirit, Peter Frantz has a way of making things happen. As he neared the end of his M.Div degree at Ashland Theological Seminary in 2013, he defined a desire to “live in a different context, a place where I wasn’t an insider” as a way to relate to people who deal with that dynamic on a daily basis. God led him to teach English in Turkey, where a one-year contract turned into a six-year journey of community and faith.
A Kern scholarship recipient, Peter started his time at seminary sensing God’s call to pastoral ministry in the United States. As a self-described big-picture thinker, he thrives on creating worship experiences that give people the space to connect with God. But first, he had to experience what it feels like to not fit in. “Being a pastor of WASPs,” he explains, “wasn’t going to cut it.”
After experiencing a year of discomfort, confusion, and joy with Turkish culture, Peter knew it wasn’t time to go home yet. Rather than apply for pastoral jobs in the U.S., he stayed on at the language school. “I felt like God was saying, ‘It’s okay; you can stay. This is the place I have for you, at least for the next year or two.’ I took it in stride and didn’t make too many plans.”
Peter describes Turkey as a spontaneous, very tightly knit culture. People live close to one another, both physically and relationally. While a typical work relationship in the U.S., Peter explains, may take several months to “work up” to a barbeque invitation, connection happens in Turkey on “day one.” For that reason, coming back to the U.S. has given Peter a dose of culture shock. “People in the U.S. are rigid and have stricter schedules. They are very segmented in the way they view life.”
So, even Peter's return to the U.S. has been an opportunity to gain insight into what it's like to feel like an outsider. “Every day is a struggle [for outsiders]. Accomplishing mundane tasks takes a lot of persistence, perseverance, and prayer. Even when I wasn’t working [in Turkey], I was being worked by the Spirit, finding my sense of belonging in Him.”
Peter’s time at seminary helped develop him as a critical thinker concerned not so much with seeking answers, but with “finding the tools for seeking them.” These skills have helped him dig beneath today’s “hot button issues” the church often finds itself occupied with to explore diverse cultures and backgrounds and understand why people think, act, and worship as they do.
Peter has stayed in touch with professors and former classmates, thriving on their support, which is why he joined the Ashland Seminary as an adjunct ESL instructor after returning to the U.S. this past summer. As he did in Turkey, Peter is taking his time here in stride as he waits for direction with what to do next.
“I am open to opportunities here as well as the possibility of going back to Turkey,” he says. “Who knows where I’ll end up?”
Ashland Theological Seminary integrates theological education with Christ-centered transformation as it equips men and women for ministry in the church and the world. The seminary offers certificate, master’s and doctoral level programs in Ashland, Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit. Learn more at seminary.ashland.edu.