By Daniel Fickenscher
For the first time in nearly 20 years, a pastor of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is serving in Mexico.
At the invitation of the Lutheran Synod of Mexico — an LCMS partner church — the Rev. Daniel Conrad serves primarily as a theological educator, to strengthen and form national pastors. He arrived in Mexico City in mid-November.
That partner church’s name in Spanish is Sínodo Luterano de México (SLM).
While the SLM is a well-established church body with congregations across Mexico, there is need to develop an in-depth yet practical route to ordination as its 10 congregations greatly outnumber its four pastors.
Tyler McMiller, an LCMS missionary who has been serving in Mexico City since July, reports that he already has identified men whom he is confident will study under Conrad. These men will be able to enroll in Hispanic Pastoral Formation with Conrad as their mentor. Hispanic Pastoral Formation, which began in 2014, is a theological distance-learning program created by the LCMS Office of International Mission; Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Concordia Seminary, Buenos Aires, Argentina, for men throughout Latin America.
The SLM currently has five residential students studying at the seminary in Buenos Aires — four of whom are pursuing ordination, and the fifth is pursuing a graduate pastoral degree. With Conrad walking side by side with the pastors and members of the SLM, it is anticipated that the financial and logistical obstacles of studying abroad can be avoided.
Conrad, who served more than 20 years as a vicar and pastor in Venezuela, will not just be a theological educator of pastors but also of potential lay leaders. And, he will be the pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church, one of the SLM’s three congregations in the capital city, where McMiller has been teaching music lessons and leading Bible studies in the congregation’s soup kitchen.
McMiller, along with the Rev. Germán Novelli, has been preparing for Conrad’s arrival by getting to know the members and pastors and assisting in the three congregations. Novelli, a Venezuelan pastor of the LCMS who most recently served a Hispanic ministry in Wisconsin, was asked to serve in Conrad’s place until he arrived.
Sometime early in 2016, others are expected to join Conrad in Mexico, including his wife, Kathy, their daughter, Ana, and the Rev. Andrew Schlund and his family. Schlund, who is currently in the phase of identifying and building a committed network of financial partners, also will serve primarily as a theological educator.
As with all Synod missionaries, Conrad relies on the financial support joyfully provided by people and congregations in the LCMS to sustain his work.
To learn more about LCMS missionaries, including Conrad and Schlund, and how you can partner in their ministry, click here.
Daniel Fickenscher (firstname.lastname@example.org) is communications specialist for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region with the LCMS Office of International Mission and is based in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Posted Dec. 3, 2015