Leaders committed to the future of Lutheran education convened in St. Louis Feb. 16-17 for a meeting of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Lutheran Schools.
The task force — created by the 2013 Synod convention and directed to continue its work by the 2016 convention — was established “to assist our congregations to embrace Lutheran schools as a critical ministry in congregational life and to support our schools as they serve in the 21st century” (2013 Res. 3-04).
Since 2005, “LCMS congregations have closed 458 schools” and “enrollment has dropped by 99,113 students” (2016 Res. 8-03A).
In 2016, the Synod in convention directed the task force to grapple with this decline and to look for “creative solutions” to meet the challenges schools and workers are facing.
“There is no doubt that alongside the heartbreak of school closures we also find a growing number of thriving models for Lutheran education,” said Terry Schmidt, director of LCMS School Ministry. “Most exciting is that given all of the changes to the U.S. educational ecosystem, we believe we are living in one of the most opportune times to grow Lutheran education in America.”
Over the next year, the task force will cast a wide net for ideas and insights, according to Schmidt. Members will seek input via formal and informal research, gather creative and collaborative options, set the stage for pilot projects, address the economic needs of rostered and non-rostered workers and the impact of those needs on congregations, and identify reasons for the decline in schools as well as opportunities for growth.
The task force’s findings and recommendations will be reported at the 2019 convention and distributed Synodwide.
“We trust that the Lord has already blessed us with everything we need to carry Lutheran education forward faithfully,” said the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission. “An important part of our work is to seek out success stories and bring as many voices into the process as possible.”
The task force started its work in May 2016 and is quickly gathering momentum, according to Chairman Jeffrey Beavers, executive director of Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, Calif.
“It’s clear that task force members have a passion for the work and firmly believe the future of Lutheran education is a bright one,” he continued. “Our challenges are real, but they are inspiring innovation, not inertia.”
To add your voice to the conversation or to share a success story related to Lutheran education, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted March 7, 2017