The Latin America and Caribbean Region had a special visitor this week. Deaconess Tiffany Manor, Director of LCMS Life Ministry, arrived in Santiago, Dominican Republic, to meet with the region’s Life Coordinator, Jamielynn Tinkey Flores, and other regional team members.
Eager to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Concordia Deaconess Conference (CDC) – which should have taken place in 2020 – CDC members and guests “met” together through an ingenious combination of individual participation and group “hubs.” Initiated due to varying Covid 19 pandemic restrictions, the Zoom (internet based) conference was attended by 160 people.
Missionary Pastor Andrew Schlund, his wife, Kelsey, and their two little daughters, Charlotte and Margaret are on their way back to the United States. They have faithfully served as LCMS missionaries since June of 2015. Rev. Schlund worked tirelessly as Pastor of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Mexico City, and as an adjunct professor for Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic.
Concordia the Reformer Seminary launched her Deaconess Program for 2021 on January 14th, with an eight-week intensive course entitled The Catechism – Disciples for Life: Instruction in the Christian life from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Over 100 women from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela, signed up for the online offering, with Deaconess Caitlin Ramirez and Rev. Sergio Fritzler serving as the professors.
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.
Isaac Neftali García Guevara, a graduate of Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic, was ordained and installed as Pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mexico City this past Sunday. Neftali is a native of Rio Bravo and the son of Rev. Isaac García, President of the Lutheran Synod of Mexico.
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.