Above photo: Seminarians process in during the 2019 graduation ceremony for Concordia the Reformer Seminary (Photo: Heidorn)
The pandemic has caused problems of various kinds all around the world, but it has not slowed the steady stream of new pastoral candidates flowing from Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic. Currently, 35 students representing twelve countries attend in-person or on-line class offerings for their pastoral formation.
The 2020 graduating class had their formal graduation ceremony postponed until May 2021, due to the pandemic. These outstanding men have completed all coursework and requirements for graduation, so even though they must wait a bit longer to don their caps and gowns, they are being ordained and installed as pastors in various countries across Latin America.
Benjamin represents a new generation of Bolivian pastors trained up in the confessions. He and several other young Bolivians represent the future leadership of the Christian Evangelical LUTHERAN Church of Bolivia (ICEL).Rev. Herb Burch, LCMS Missionary Pastor
Two 2019 graduates were ordained in Bolivia on November 28th. Benjamin Flores will serve as a missionary pastor in Belize, where he served his vicarage. Pastor Flores and his wife Karina are expecting their first child, a baby girl, to arrive in early January.
Pastor Samuel Calero will serve at Vida Nueva (New Life) Lutheran Church in Potosí, Bolivia. His vicarage was in La Florida (Santiago), Chile, under the supervision of Rev. Cristian Rautenberg.
Missionary Pastor Herb Burch, who was the vicarage supervisor for Pastor Flores, shared, “Benjamin represents a new generation of Bolivian pastors trained up in the confessions. He and several other young Bolivians represent the future leadership of the Christian Evangelical LUTHERAN Church of Bolivia (ICEL). Their formation will certainly strengthen this LUTHERAN body as it seeks to join hands with the LCMS and member churches of the ILC (International Lutheran Council)”.
On September 20th, Guillermo Leyva was ordained and installed at All Saints Lutheran Church in Guadalajara, Mexico. Pastor Leyva is from Mexicali, which is just across the US-Mexico border about an hour west of Yuma, Arizona, and two hours east of San Diego.
He has family in Guadalajara, which will be a blessing as he begins his ministry there. His vicarage assignment was at Bethany Lutheran Church in Rio Bravo and The Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Matamoros, which is just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. Rev. Isaac García, President of the Lutheran Synod of Mexico, was his vicarage supervisor.
In addition, Neftali García, another recent graduate from Mexico was ordained and installed as Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mexico City on November 15th. Neftali is the son of Rev. Isaac García, President of the Lutheran Synod of Mexico, and a native of Rio Bravo.
This increase in the number of pastors is a huge blessing for our Latin American Lutheran churches. According to Missionary Pastor Arthur Rickman, who oversees the work in Mexico, in 2013 only three ordained pastors were serving in that country. Today we have eight ordained pastors and two missionary pastors to shepherd the flocks.
Ordination of Neftali García
Each of these young men is a living and serving demonstration of what our seminary aspires to produce in every part of Latin America.Rev. Dr. David Preus, Professor of Doctrinal Theology at Concordia the Reformer Seminary
Since welcoming the first class of students in 2017, Concordia the Reformer has sought to prepare men to be shepherds, teachers and evangelists. The Church is seeing the fruit of the labors of all who have worked, prayed, and supported the seminary, its faculty and students.
Rev. Dr. David Preus, Professor at Concordia el Reformador spoke about the new graduates, “Having served as professor, pastor, and fieldwork supervisor of Guillermo, Nefta, Benjamín, and Samuel, I noticed that in each case my students, now recently ordained servants of God’s Word, underwent a certain process of maturing both in knowledge and in practical life. It was a real joy for me to witness their increase in zeal for the pastoral ministry even as they honed their minds through constructive Lutheran-theological conversation along the way. Each of these young men is a living and serving demonstration of what our seminary aspires to produce in every part of Latin America.”