Monday evening, September 21, the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM)—EURASIA successfully launched the Livonian Lutheran Project’s first online class. The Livonian Lutheran Project is the working title for a mission to build an online, bachelor’s level curriculum of confessional Lutheran theology in partnership with the Riga Luther Academy, in Latvia.
The goal is to forge a path to ordination into the office of holy ministry for indigenous men in mission fields where it is not possible to establish their own seminary. It will also make Lutheran theological education available to a wider audience of anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of Scripture and the confessions of the Lutheran Church.
The teaching platform is a Zoom “classroom.” This beginning class is called Introduction to Theology. This course provides an academic overview of confessional Lutheran theology and includes surveys of the four basic areas of theology: biblical, historical, dogmatic, and applied (practical) theology. There is no tuition; the course is offered free of charge and is designed to help students assess their interest and aptitude for theology. For most, the course will provide the opportunity to explore preparation for Lutheran ministry.
The class was taught by Rev. Dr. Charles Cortright from his office in Riga, along with Rev. Dr. John Bombaro sitting in on the class from Washington, D.C., where he is fulfilling reserve duty as a military chaplain. Forty-two people were in attendance for the first session. The students represented fourteen different countries ranging from Islamabad, Pakistan to San Diego, California. Most of the students are from European countries: Italy, Bulgaria, Ireland, Switzerland, Romania, Czech Republic, and from the Russian Federation.
The eleven students from Pakistan were gathered together in one location—they do not all own their own computers. They assembled in one room huddled around three computers, anxious to learn all they could about God’s Word and the way of salvation.
According to Cortright, “the course is not rocket science,” but one of the students is actually a rocket scientist. Another one is a member of the Latvian Parliament.
The class will continue every Monday evening from 6:30-9:30, Riga time. However, when you calculate the difference in time zones, the Pakistani students attend from 8:30-11:30 PM in their time zone and the one student from San Diego attends from 8:30-11:30 in the morning.
The first session was ruled a success: everyone was able to join the online class with no technological hitches. The class members looked like a large “Hollywood Squares” set on screen. They introduced themselves to each other, learned about how the course works, and listened to the first lecture, “The scope of theology.” Next week there will be three sessions of lectures and learning about theology in earnest. May God bless the efforts of the students and professor during this inaugural course of the Livonian Lutheran Project.
For more information on this initiative, visit the Livonia Lutheran Project website at https://www.thelivonianlutheranproject.com/.
by Connie Cortright