Seminary cooperation continues
ST. CATHARINES, Ontario – Cooperation between Lutheran Church–Canada’s two seminaries continues to bear fruit, as evidenced by recent meetings in St. Catharines, Ontario. On January 26, the Boards of Regents of Concordia Lutheran Seminary and Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary held their annual joint meeting, followed the next day by individual board meetings. On January 28, representatives of the seminaries as well as LCC’s Board of Directors met as part of the regular review of the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
“We’ve come a long way from the difficult days leading up to the 2011 Synod Convention when the future of seminary education in Lutheran Church–Canada was in question,” noted LCC First Vice President Nolan Astley, who serves on the MOU Committee. “Over the last few years our seminaries and the Board of Directors of Synod have, by God’s grace, begun to work together in many important ways.”
Vice President Astley highlighted a number of recent seminary successes:
- Continued fiscal responsibility. The two seminaries have demonstrated a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility and sustainability, both in seeking out opportunities to reduce expenses and being diligent in developing donor support for their programs. Both schools finished recent fiscal years in surplus positions.
- Greater resource sharing through technology. Over the past four academic years, the two seminaries have shared a number of classes via the internet, with Edmonton students able to take courses taught from St. Catharines and vice versa. Better equipment has been purchased and students and faculty are growing more comfortable with the technology.
- Renewed focus on recruitment. At 2013’s National Church Worker Conference, church worker recruitment a session topic, focusing especially on the role of current pastors and deacons in raising up candidates for church work vocations. The ABC District has developed a website focusing on recruitment (isgodcallingme.ca), and CLTS and CLS have produced a series of posters for display in churches.
- Responsible approach to faculty hiring. Both schools are seeking new faculty to replace retiring professors, and this process is being carried out with consultation between the schools and Boards of Regents.
The committee also reported plans to revise the current MOU document to provide ongoing guidance for the seminaries and Synod as they work together to provide cost-effective sustainable seminary education in LCC. It also noted its desire for the establishment of a more permanent committee.
“The intention would not be to go back to the old method of having a Board for Higher Education, which reduced seminary autonomy and did not report to Synod’s BOD,” Vice President Astley explained, “but there is a case to be made for the creation of a synodical committee that would coordinate our work in the training of future church workers, much as the Committee for Missions and Social Ministry Services guides LCC’s mission work.”
The MOU committee has set September 2015 as the target date for the completion of a new document to guide seminary education in LCC.
The committee also wished to address misconceptions that they are committed to the immediate amalgamation of LCC’s two seminaries. Concerns raised in the Task Force’s report continue to militate against amalgamation in the near future, and so the present focus remains on cooperation and operational unity, rather than institutional merger.