Our Dominican seminary’s fourth academic year is well underway with its fall classes. Pandemic restrictions are still in place, so classes are being taught via Zoom. With 11 residential students and 24 online students representing 12 countries, the enrollment for pastoral formation is holding steady.
Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic hosts an annual symposium drawing an increasingly large crowd each year. The draw is two-fold: It is currently the only Lutheran theological symposium in Spanish, and the quality of the presenters and presentations is top-notch. It was the overflowing crowd at last year’s conference that prompted the organizers to reluctantly establish the by-invitation-only rule for the 2020 symposium scheduled to take place next week.
People come here to survive—not voluntarily. Waves of Venezuelans, including nurses, dentists, engineers, teachers, students, and others, reluctantly take the short, ninety-minute flight to the Dominican Republic, and embark on a life vastly different from what they are accustomed to. Having left behind family and friends, home, and everything familiar, they begin life again, from scratch. They leave the country that they love, not because they want to, but because they have no other option if they want to live.
No rest for the weary! Our seminarians finished up finals week on Friday and immediately dove into a two-week intensive course. Latin American pastors and deaconesses were invited to join our seminarians for this online class on the theology of mercy, taught by Pastor Ted Krey, Regional Director for the Latin America and Caribbean region.
During this time of uncertainty due to the global pandemic, many are in various states of quarantine or isolation from social activity. Our seminary and her students and staff are no different. Seminary Director, Rev. Joel Fritsche, shares some of the ways in which the work continues, and the Gospel goes out even in the midst of this storm. Thanks be to God.
In January 2020, Concordia Seminary St. Louis sent two deaconess students on a mission education trip to the Dominican Republic to learn about various aspects of the ministry occurring there and throughout Latin America. Participants Janie Schlie and Christina Shaffer, both first year students, had the opportunity to experience what life is like in the Dominican Republic while serving alongside and learning from missionaries, deaconesses and local believers.
Disaster Response workshops were hosted by Concordia Lutheran Church and School in Palmar Arriba, and Lamb of God Lutheran Church and School in Licey, through grants from the Mercy Center, an institute of Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic.
To commemorate 502 years of the Lutheran Reformation, LCMS mission congregations across the Dominican Republic celebrated with a street procession preceding their Divine Services.
On Trinity Sunday, seven new adult confirmands were brought into membership at Lamb of God Lutheran Church in Licey, Dominican Republic. Missionary Pastor Sergio Fritzler, from Argentina, serves the congregation part-time, in addition to his duties as a seminary professor at Concordia the Reformer Seminary. Recent seminary graduate, Yban Navarro, assisted with the service.
Santa Ortiz, the pastor’s wife of a Lutheran congregation near the capital of the Dominican Republic, describes her church’s need for more members willing to serve the church as deaconesses.