Above photo: All participants and presenters at the recent FPH Symposium at Concordia the Reformer Seminary (Photo: Heidorn)
Story by Jana Inglehart
Concordia the Reformer Seminary welcomed distance-learning Formación Pastoral Hispano (FPH) students and pastoral mentors from several Latin American countries to a week-long symposium in January. The FPH program is similar to the SMP program at our LCMS seminaries in the United States. It focuses on the pastoral acts and consists of sixteen courses. The students take four courses a year, with a pastoral mentor assigned to each of them.
“The FPH conference was a fabulous opportunity for our far-flung students from many countries to be in chapel, meet their professors for the first time, enjoy the fellowship of others working towards their pastoral formation and together encourage one another in Christ and His great mercy towards us.”Rev. Ted Krey, Regional Director for the Latin America and Caribbean Region
In Latin America, the challenges for FPH students vary. Many of the men are older and have a family and a career. In addition, they have some theological training and serve in some capacity in their local church. Though a student may desperately want to complete a residential program, to do so, he must leave his career, extended family and the comforts of home behind to travel to another country. This transition requires a passport for each family member and a visa to live and study in the Dominican Republic. The process is arduous, time-consuming, expensive, and often just not a reasonable option.
The desire to bring the men together for mutual learning, support and encouragement was realized with the first-of-its-kind gathering of Latin American FPH students. Each day of the symposium began and ended with worship and was packed with learning and interaction with other FPH students, professors, seminarians and missionaries. Throughout each day, the men attended lectures, participated in workshops and discussions, and learned of various resources available to them. Some of the topics and workshops were as follows:
- The Office of Preaching and Pastoral Care – Rev. Dr. Arthur Just
- Basic Aspects of a Theology of Worship – Rev. Dr. Roberto Bustamante
- Pastoral Care and the Liturgy – Rev. Sergio Fritzler
- The Pastoral Visit – Rev. Dr. Don Wiley
- The Pastoral Visit (workshop) – Rev. Sergio Maita
- The Communion Kit and Its Use – Rev. Sergio Fritzler
- Use of the Hymnal and Pastoral Accompaniment – Rev. Alejandro López
- Conducting the Divine Service – Rev. Dr. Jonathan Naumann
- Conduct of Divine Offices: Matins and Vespers – Rev. Samuel Pérez
- Devotional Life and the Care of the Pastor’s Family – Rev. Eliezer Mendoza
Breaks and mealtimes offered more opportunities for asking questions, discussing in-depth theological topics and creating bonds with the extended seminary community.
Regional Director Rev. Ted Krey said of the event, “The FPH conference was a fabulous opportunity for our far-flung students from many countries to be in chapel, meet their professors for the first time, enjoy the fellowship of others working towards their pastoral formation and together encourage one another in Christ and His great mercy towards us.”
No doubt, the mutual encouragement and learning were greatly appreciated by all involved. Plans are already in the works for next year’s FPH symposium; thanks be to God.