church workAlex Hinojosa ('21) and his wife, Abbey ('21), on the campus of Fort Wayne Theological Seminary where Alex is in his first year.

Students enrolled in CUAA's family life ministry or parish music programs can now take advantage of the STEPS internship program.

Since 2004, Concordia University Ann Arbor’s STEPS program has helped more pre-seminary and pre-deaconess candidates gain early, on-the job training and access to mentors than any other school in the Concordia University System.

This year CUAA will expand the successful internship model to two other church work programs. Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in family life ministry or Bachelor of Arts in parish music programs may now opt in to a paid part-time internship experience with any of CUAA’s 20-plus partner parishes or LCMS ministries.

Ministry experience from the start

Typically church work students don’t participate in the equivalent of an internship until their senior year at CUAA or seminary, but STEPS aims to get them into real-life ministry settings their sophomore year.

“We found the program to be so beneficial for our pre-seminary students that we wanted to expand it to our other church work candidates, as well,” says CUAA’s pre-seminary director Rev. Dr. Ted Hopkins, who oversees the STEPS program. “The more we can help students put their classroom knowledge into action and connect them with positive role models for their future vocations, the more they’re able to mature and grow into their callings.”

Student shares experience, now at seminary

That certainly was the case for Alex Hinojosa (’21). While pre-seminary students are only required to participate in STEPS for one semester, Hinojosa chose to stick with the program through to his graduation this past May. He’s now enrolled at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana and is thankful for the extra opportunities he had to “get his feet wet.”

“It gave me a new appreciation for the amount of work that goes into ministry,” says Hinojosa. “And I gained so much confidence and support from the overwhelming amount of love that was shown to me by my STEPS congregation.”

STEPS is funded by grants received by the Michigan District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and contributions from donors. To support this uniquely CUAA program, visit

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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