At Concordia the Reformer Seminary in Palmar Arriba, Dominican Republic, 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.
The seminary’s deaconess program serves some 140 women in five countries, with coursework aimed at training women to share the Gospel as they do works of mercy in their churches and local communities.
To launch the school year, the Rev. Dr. David Preus, professor, presented an intensive course on the sanctity of life. Based on Psalm 8:4, the online offering was titled “What is Man that You are Mindful of Him?” Deaconess students, deaconesses and pastors from five countries across the region attended the three-day seminar.
During orientation week for the seminarians, Preus presented the course again, though slightly modified to provide a deeper dive into the theology. In an update for the LCMS international website, Preus wrote, “During this pandemic crisis, our neighbor is often looked at as someone who might be a threat to our health and life, and someone to avoid. In this course, students explored how to look past that initial image we have of our neighbor and see our neighbor as someone made in God’s image, someone for whom Christ died.”
The Rev. Dr. John Bombaro serves as a theological educator in Latvia. He and the Rev. Dr. Charles Cortright, who also serves in Latvia, conduct an online seminary program called the Livonian Lutheran Project.
The program is held in conjunction with the Riga Luther Academy in Latvia. In collaboration with Concordia University, Irvine (CUI), Calif., and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Bombaro and Cortright train, catechize and mentor future pastors and church workers, as well as new converts to the Christian faith.
This semester, Bombaro and Cortright are co-teaching an online course titled “Introduction to Theology.” More than 45 students throughout Eurasia participate each week over a three-hour Zoom class. Bombaro and Cortright also privately mentor several of the students, with Bombaro providing catechetical instruction for Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
Bombaro visited CUI this summer to assemble course materials for the online seminary program. While he was there, one of the catechesis students he is mentoring, a mother of three young children, professed Christ as her Lord and Savior and stated her desire to be baptized along with her children. In preparation for Holy Baptism, Bombaro offered them training in Luther’s Small Catechism. Two months of online catechesis ensued.
The instruction was completed at the end of October. Bombaro traveled to the mother’s home to administer the Rite of Holy Baptism. Following all required COVID-19 protocols, she and her three children were baptized in their own backyard with 25 witnesses present. The mother is continuing with classes at the Riga Luther Academy, and she and her children have also begun private instruction in preparation for their first Holy Communion.
Read more stories about LCMS international mission work at international.lcms.org.
Posted Dec. 15, 2020