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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The Candy Man can with God's help

Do you have a sweet tooth? A yen for chocolatey mints, colorful gumballs or little gummy bears?

If so, chances are that over the years you've eaten candy to which ELCA seminarian Stephen Brisson has applied a kind of finishing touch.

A 37-year-old chemist by trade, Brisson spent years working to perfect candy coating glazes that improve the appearance and help maintain the freshness of candy snacks.

But beginning last fall, Brisson started a career change. Each Sunday he points his pickup toward Philadelphia for four days of classes at The Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia, where he's preparing to be a parish pastor.

Brisson credits his pastor, Thadius Platt, for being a spiritual mentor. Brisson; his wife, Sarah; and son, Neil, are members of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Woonsocket, R.I. "The pastors there have all been good teachers," Brisson says. "They've played a role in deepening my faith."

The decision to attend seminary is a major commitment. Brisson sacrificed a successful career. And his wife, a contract administrator for a company that makes machines used in the manufacture of paper, makes the family's only income. Son, Neil, 17, is getting ready to enter college next year.

Brisson spends a significant period of time each week away from his family, driving 600 miles round-trip from his Attleboro, Mass., home in a 1989 vintage truck with 100,000 miles. "But Sarah and I are excited that next year, when Neil is in college, we'll be able to be together in Philadelphia," he says.

The scientist admits he was nervous about returning to school and studying theology. "After thinking like a scientist for so many years I wondered, would I be able to think differently? Would it be possible for me to write in a different way? So far everything just feels right, and my studies are giving me a new perspective on my background," he says.


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