Revs. Jesse and Joseph Schlie grew up in Fort Wayne, IN, where their dad was a pastor. Many people watching the Call Day service at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne would remember them as the identical twins called to the Missouri District.
Personality-wise, it seems like the brothers were as similar as their physical appearance. Both brothers think people can tell them apart after they get to know them a little bit, though it’s usually hard in the beginning.
Throughout their childhood, the brothers got along well. Not all twins are as compatible as they are, as both Joe and Jesse describe a strong bond. The twins attended Indiana University and then Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne together. When it comes to having a twin, Joe says, “It’s having a lifelong best friend. We didn’t have to do the college roommate lottery.” Jesse says, “It’s like a having a mirror connected to your brain. There’s no worse or more accurate critic than a twin who knows the thing you need to hear sometimes.”
When the twins were in college, they both had similar journeys to feeling God’s call to seminary. Joe and Jesse both were active in campus ministry and dealing with the death of their mother. She died from a form of cancer after another more aggressive form of cancer went into remission. Joe believes facing the death of a parent definitely has helped him as a new pastor. He says, “It gives you empathy, because you’ve experienced something similar to a lot of people, but you have to be careful, because people all deal with grief differently. It did definitely help me deal with intense situations, because I’ve been there, and you don’t want to be putting your foot in your mouth as a pastor.”
When Jesse felt called to go into ministry, it was also around the time of his mother’s cancer diagnosis and death. He changed his major from education to history to better reflect his interests and goals. He spent his second year of seminary at the sister school in Cambridge, England, Westfield House.
It was the first time the brothers had lived apart, followed by vicarages on opposite sides of the country. Jesse went to Tucson, Arizona and Joe went to Philadelphia.
Even though they were in vastly different places, the brothers remained on a similar trajectory in that they both had the chance to experience college ministry from the other side on their vicarage. Since Joe and Jesse credit their campus ministry experience with having a large impact on their decisions to become pastors. Each brother had a different layer to his vicarage, in addition to campus ministry. Joe met weekly with a homeless man going over the small catechism and Jesse split his time between campus ministry at University of Arizona and a smaller congregation in a nearby town.
Jesse and Joe both enjoyed all four years of seminary, even the two they lived far apart. When Jesse was in England, it wasn’t really possible to keep in touch much due to the different time zones. So when it came time for Call Day, the brothers were curious, but not necessarily in suspense about whether they’d be called to congregations close to each other.
They’d both done vicarages in the English district, but also had both interviewed primarily
in the Missouri District. So, it wasn’t exactly a surprise when they both got called here. In fact, Joe had told his wife, Kristen, “We may end up going to Missouri.” Joe was called to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville and Jesse was called to Trinity Lutheran Church in Jefferson City.
Call Day was an eventful one for both brothers, who each had a new daughter. Unfortunately, Jesse spent the afternoon of Call Day debating if he should even attend the service. His baby girl, Nora, had alarmingly high levels of jaundice and had been admitted into the emergency room, with the medical team considering a blood transfusion. Once the team decided the transfusion was unnecessary and Nora’s levels started to normalize, Joe decided to attend the Call Day service.
He says, “It was almost a good object lesson about ministry. I was supposed to be thinking about what it means to become a pastor and leading the body of Christ, but honestly, I spent a lot of time thinking about my family.”
Jesse’s introduction to Missouri was a little tumultuous, with a tornado hitting the hotel he was staying in with his wife and infant. Recalling the tornado, Jesse laughs and says, “I told my congregation that God speaks to us through the Word and Sacraments. Don’t read into this.” Things have settled down,
and Jesse and his wife, Keegan, happily live in a house with a finished basement. The twins now live three hours apart and take turns visiting each other with their families.