By Kevin Armbrust
On May 27, three pastors and 12 deaconesses graduated from Centro de Misericordia y Seminario Concordia el Reformador (Concordia the Reformer Seminary and Mercy Center) in Palmar Arriba, Dominican Republic (DR). The graduates will serve the church throughout Latin America as they head to Peru, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela and other nations.
The graduation service took place at the end of a weeklong symposium hosted by the seminary.
“One of our goals for a regional, residential seminary is to gather our students together around our Lutheran theology to foster their common identity as Lutherans,” said LCMS missionary Rev. Joel Fritsche, director of Concordia. “Our annual theological symposium seeks to accomplish that at an even broader level by inviting partner church presidents and leaders in theological education to join us for a week. This year we are humbled to play a role in the introduction of the new Spanish Lutheran Hymnal, which we pray will also strengthen our theological unity and identity in song for years to come.”
“God takes you in many ways. … I never thought I would be a pastor. But God led me here out of my country to learn the truth so that I can return to my home country to tell them the truth,” said the Rev. Jeancarlos Ramírez, who graduated from Concordia after four years of residential education. Ramírez, who will serve the church in his native city of Lima, Peru, especially looks forward to bringing the Gospel to the children and families. “Everything you learn in seminary — it’s important to think about how to communicate that to kids, to people who don’t know. … [We] don’t change the truth but learn how to share it with kids so that they can understand.”
Concordia forms pastors to spread the Gospel, plant Lutheran churches and show mercy. It also trains deaconesses to serve alongside pastors to show the mercy of God in Christ to those who are in need and facing difficulties. Deaconess Danelle Putnam, LCMS missionary and associate coordinator of the deaconess program at Concordia, noted that most of the graduating deaconesses will not be paid. They see their service to the church and others as their reward.
Rain drenched the outside graduation service, and the wind whipped the rented tents, which could not fully protect everyone from the elements. Yet the Word of God, sent from heaven as was the rain, accomplished exactly the purpose for which God sent it forth. The Rev. Dr. Gerson Linden, director of Seminario Concordia in São Leopoldo, Brazil, preached to the graduates and all assembled to trust in and proclaim the one thing this world needs, Christ and Him crucified.
Read more about this event and the Synod’s work in Latin America in a future issue of Lutherans Engage the World.
Posted July 19, 2022