The Call to Ordination: Ian Lasch
Three newly ordained transitional deacons and a priest share their discernment trajectory, God's gentle tap on the shoulder, and hearing the call to ordained ministry
Ian Lasch’s ordination story probably began way back growing up in North Carolina, when spending time around his uncle who was a Methodist minister and Air Force Chaplain. His childhood memories were of being impressed that there was something different about this man, that he knew something special, that he was somehow different for it.
Those packed away memories flooded back before Ian’s graduation from high school, when he began imagining his future. Would he choose a college, a non-traditional education opportunity? Ian had a deep conversation with his step-dad about the Roman Catholic faith and the possibility of joining a religious order. That felt too serious, as though he wasn’t yet ready for it.
Ian joined the military and became a translator. As an Arabic (and at one point Kurdish) translator, he served five years in the US Army, then worked seven more as a civilian contractor, all in Augusta, Georgia.
But those memories remained, and sometimes made him ask, was he running away from a call to religious life?
Through his young adult life, Ian noticed that at key moments, times of being in a good place, or a challenging place, he seemed to be supported by members of Christian communities. “I seemed to fall into the right spot, and around people dedicated to God and pursuing a holy life.” And many would ask him, have you ever considered ordination, and he’d reply, no, I’m really not ready for that.
His best friend asked him that, and then introduced him to Loren, an Episcopal priest and his future wife. That may have been the last in a “long line of holy coincidences when the topic of ministry kept coming up again and again.”
Ian began his discernment process in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. Partway through, the diocese revamped the process, and he learned he’d need to begin anew. Loren was in the Diocese of Georgia, and he decided if he had to start again, he’d start at St. Augustine’s Church in Augusta, Georgia. He worked through the process in that community for about a year and a half before going on to seminary. “They were so caring, they practically treated me like a seminarian.” Three years at Virginia Theological Seminary followed, and his graduation, then ordination to the transitional diaconate took place in May in Georgia.
Two-priest couples can offer some employment opportunity challenges, but Ian and Loren (and their son Elias) arrived in the diocese to begin work in June--Loren as the diocesan youth missioner and Ian as associate rector at St. Peter’s Church in Ladue.
St. Peter’s “has been so welcoming and so supportive in every possible way,” he said. He had wondered how he fit, and is buoyed by that support. Many of his friends from seminary are the only cleric in a small parish, and he shares with them the experience of being at a place like St. Peter’s where there are so many people excited about their faith and there is so much going on. “You know, you can tell the people here are eager to delve deeper in faith to get more involved in community…it’s what you dream of in a parish.”
Ian’s ordination to the priesthood was on January 6, 2017 at Christ Church Cathedral. Twice as many people as he expected attended, so many from St. Peter’s were there, excited for him and for what it means for the church. It was “awesome” that so many diocesan clergy came to the ordination. His experience had been very different in the Diocese of Virginia, which is larger and can feel isolated. Missouri feels engaged, with “a bishop that lives out that idea of Christian community. It speaks volumes about this bishop and clergy.”
Ian is intrigued by the cultures of St. Louis, with influences from South, Northeast, and the frontier West. “It’s a fascinating place for those of us who have never lived here, with familiar aspects, but all blended.” He won’t miss the six months of unbroken heat in Georgia summers. He’s settling into the rhythms of the community, at St. Peter’s, in this diocese.
First published in the February issue of Seek: voices of the Diocese of Missouri. Read online here, read past issues, or subscribe.