From Law to Theology: One Graduate's 20-Year Path to Ministry

2018 graduate Erik Khoobyarian shares his story
Erik K Photo Small

Erik Khoobyarian is poised to receive his Master of Divinity degree, however his journey was not a linear one. He arrived at PTS right out of college 20 years ago, but despite feeling a call to ministry, something inside told him that seminary was not where he was supposed to be at that time. He stayed one night (in the same dorm that he would later live in) and then departed without starting orientation, deferring admission for one year. He returned again the following year, only to once again decide to leave after one night. After that he thought the door was forever closed on his dream of coming to seminary.

Erik felt a renewed tug to return to PTS in 2015 while he was working as an attorney. He realized while practicing law and walking with people through some of the darkest times of their lives, he actually had been gathering tools for ministry. He knew the time was right — though it was far from an easy decision.

“Choosing to sell most of my possessions and move across the country to a place I’d left two decades earlier was a huge step of faith for me and it was hard at first,” he says. “But at the same time, it was very clear that this was what I was supposed to be doing and I was reaffirmed on a regular basis that this is where I was called to be.”

Though his first semester at PTS was challenging, particularly as he was learning Greek while taking other classes, Erik returned repeatedly to a prayer of submission, “I’m here. Use me.” Slowly he began to evolve from seeking perfection in his coursework to looking at how the courses would help his ministry.

Erik worked on building community at PTS through dorm life, making sure new students were “seen” and welcomed. Living in a dorm also provided an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with his fellow seminarians, which gave Erik an even stronger appreciation for the PTS community. He received the Friar Award for his efforts, which is given to a graduate who has contributed significantly to the life of the seminary.

“I didn’t expect the level of honesty and vulnerability my peers were willing to have,” he says. “That these students allowed me to walk alongside them with the tough things they were journeying though was very powerful for me.”

Erik is currently in the search process and is certified ready to receive a call. He says one of the ironies of his life is that when he was younger, he was impatient about going to seminary and thought that three years to become a pastor was too long when, in fact, it took 20.

“I have realized my formation doesn’t end when I leave seminary,” he says. “I hope it will continue throughout my life and career, and I anticipate that PTS will be part of that formation through all my current and future relationships and connections.”

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Associate Rector at Trinity Church, Princeton, New Jersey

Nancy Hagner, Class of 2013

“Preaching is one of the most important things we do as pastors. You get to challenge people’s minds and hearts, as the gospel challenges all of us.”