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.
Sixty Lutheran pastors and church members from Guatemala and Honduras gathered online for four days of Disaster Response Training last week. Pastor Alejandro Lopez presented the virtual classes from his location in Panama. Missionary Deaconess Cheryl Naumann from the Dominican Republic coordinated the instruction through the Mercy Center, an institute of Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic.
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.
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.
For the first time in two years, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Panamá hosted a Luther Academy conference. Luther Academy provides continuing theological education courses in intensive formats to strengthen and assist pastors and leaders throughout churches in Latin America and around the world.
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.
Diaconal formation continued in Panama September 28-29, as the ladies continued with their second course in the Deaconess Program, The Divine Service and the Life of the Church. A dozen ladies were in attendance from two congregations.
The Mercy Center, an institute of Concordia Seminary the Reformer (CMSCR), provides a spectrum of educational conferences, from personal witnessing and Christian reconciliation to family and community health and life issues. Disaster response training throughout the Latin American and Caribbean Region is done under the auspices of the Mercy Center.